Projecting The 2013 East All-Star Reserves
The NBA lets the fans vote on who the starters in the All-Star Game will be. The fans vote has been counted and Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade will start for the Eastern Conference squad.
The NBA has its 30 head coaches select the reserve players. The coaches vote for seven players within their conference – two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. The All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, so we asked some of our East-based writers to pick their All-Star reserves for the Eastern Conference and give some thoughts on why they selected who they did.
| Eastern Conference All-Star Reserves
The Philadelphia 76ers have been reeling without Andrew Bynum in the lineup but Jrue Holiday has come into his own and is nearly producing 20 points and 10 assists per night. Those are monster numbers on a team without a dominant scorer to alleviate pressure. Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis has put up bigger offensive numbers in his career, but his play this season is still worth noting. Ellis has kept the Bucks relevant in the Eastern Conference’s playoff race despite a coaching change and reports of a tense locker room environment.
Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez has experienced the type of bounce back year the Nets’ organization was hoping to see. Lopez has been the primary driver in Brooklyn’s rise up the East’s standings as both Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are having down years. Emerging wing Paul George gets the headlines, but Indiana Pacers forward David West has been the heartbeat of the team this season playing without the injured Danny Granger. West is nearly producing at his pre-knee injury levels this season and is a strong reason why the Pacers sit at the top of the Central Division. The Hawks have been sliding in the standings, but Al Horford is still a deserving All-Star. While many inside and outside of the organization feel it’s Josh Smith’s team in Atlanta, Horford continues to be the more consistent force of the two.
Miami HEAT forward Chris Bosh continues to produce and play at a high level. Bosh remains one of the best power forwards in the game today and should rack up another All-Star appearance. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is the only other player I’d consider from a non-playoff team. Simply put, Irving is the goods and will undoubtedly have a long streak of All-Star appearances to his credit, why not start it in 2013?
— Lang Greene
Despite not yet being old enough to buy a drink, Kyrie Irving has already emerged as one of the most exciting, dynamic and talented points guards on the planet. Jrue Holiday is another up-and-coming guard certainly worthy of being named to this season’s All-Star team. Although he doesn’t get as much national attention as many others, Holiday is currently averaging 19.4 points (fourth-highest scoring average in the Eastern Conference) and 9.0 assists (second in the East). Jrue also has the third-highest field-goal percentage (45.8 percent) of any guard in the East averaging at least 14 points.
As phenomenal as Tyson Chandler played last season (when he was named the Defensive Player of the Year), he’s playing as well if not better this year. He is averaging more rebounds (11.0 per game) and a career-high12.4 points per contest. Brook Lopez is another Eastern Conference big man playing arguably the best ball of his career. Lopez has been the Nets’ most consistent and efficient offensive option. Just as importantly, his rebounding is vastly improved (7.3 per game) and he is averaging a career-high 2.1 blocks. An argument could certainly be made that Lopez is the Nets’ MVP through the first two-plus months of the 2012-13 campaign. Joakim Noah’s numbers don’t accurately portray just how important he is to the Bulls. Still, he is averaging his customary double-double (including a career high 12.4 points), while also chipping in 1.3 steals and 2.0 blocks (both would represent career-highs).
Luol Deng has been a key “glue guy” for Chicago all season long. He leads the NBA in minutes played, constantly contributing on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Chris Bosh is rebounding a bit less this year. But he remains incredibly efficient on offense (shooting 54.5 percent from the floor) and is a vital piece on the team with the best record in the East.
— Tommy Beer
While it’s true that my predictions here would mean half of this year’s Eastern Conference All-Star team would be from either Miami or Boston, both Chris Bosh and Paul Pierce are plenty deserving of making the team this year. Pierce has been the most consistent Celtic this year, and Bosh has been as good as we’ve seen him since he left Toronto.
Outside of those two guys, Jrue Holiday and Kyrie Irving are in because they’ve both made giant leaps forward as pros this year, while Deron Williams is having one of his cruddiest year ever. Tyson Chandler would’ve been named the starter at center in a perfect world, and Joakim Noah is one of the major reasons the Bulls have been respectable without Derrick Rose. Finally, Paul George has been a double-double machine the last ten games or so, putting up monster numbers and looking like the star we all guessed he could be when he came into the league.
This is an Eastern All-Star team I can live with, and if that means there are no Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks, even though they’re all three currently in the playoff picture, so be it.
— Joel Brigham
Jrue Holiday and Paul George aren’t household names, but they’ve stepped up this season and had career-years. Holiday and George have been the main reason for their respective team’s success. Both players lost a star teammate to injury (Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia and Danny Granger in Indiana), but they elevated their game in that player’s absence and kept their team in the playoff picture. This is likely the first of many All-Star nods for Holiday and George since their best basketball is likely still ahead of them.
Entering this season, I never would’ve predicted that Brook Lopez would be on my list of All-Star reserves. I’ve been very critical of Lopez over the years, but I have to admit that he’s having an outstanding season and he’s showing improvement, especially on the defensive end. He has been the best player in Brooklyn, not Deron Williams, and he has lived up to the huge contract he signed over the summer. This season, Lopez has the fourth-highest Player Efficiency Rating in the league behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul. He definitely deserves to be an All-Star alongside Tyson Chandler and Chris Bosh, who have been important pieces on the two best teams in the East.
The wild card spots were difficult to choose, but I went with Kyrie Irving and Paul Pierce. It’s very possible that Irving gets left off of the team simply because coaches usually reward players on winning teams and Cleveland hasn’t been very successful this season. However, he’s putting up huge numbers and deserves the spot, in my opinion. Also, don’t be surprised if the coaches leave off Irving, Holiday or George and send a veteran in their place. Sometimes, the coaches leave off players who will have plenty of All-Star selections down the road so that they can reward a veteran. Paul Pierce gets in simply because he’s a perennial All-Star and the coaches rarely leave accomplished veterans off of the team. Even though Boston has underachieved, Pierce has been putting up solid numbers and I’d be shocked if the coaches left him off of the team. Fair or not, Pierce gets the final spot over Joakim Noah, Josh Smith, Luol Deng, David West, etc.
— Alex Kennedy