Projecting The 2013 West 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 Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul will start for the Western 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 Western Conference-based writers to pick their All-Star reserves for the Western Conference and give some thoughts on why they selected who they did.
| 2013 Western Conference All-Star Reserves
Even with how badly the Houston Rockets have struggled as of late, there’s no way you can deny that James Harden has established himself as an All-Star this season and one of the best guards in the league overall. It will be enjoyable to watch him take the court with Russell Westbrook, who has improved his assist numbers significantly with Harden gone, and Kevin Durant once again. I assume it’s a lock that they will see a significant amount of time together on the floor.
As always, picking the reserve forwards in the West is really tough even without having to consider Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol since they have not played at an All-Star level this season. Tim Duncan has once again defied age and proven that he is still one of the top big men in the game. David Lee and Zach Randolph have epitomized consistency this year. By being two of the most reliable bigs in the league, I gave them and Duncan the nod over the nearly-equally deserving Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson.
I wanted to put Rudy Gay in at one of the flex spots, but Stephen Curry and Tony Parker’s body of work are just too good to pass on over Gay. Gay, while solid, is not even playing the best basketball of his career this year while both Curry and Parker lead their teams in scoring and also have them in the top five in the West.
One of the jobs of NBA coaches as they select the All-Star reserves is to make sure that the best teams have players represented on the teams. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, for example, are never going to be league-wide fan favorites, but they are having outstanding seasons for one of the league’s best teams. The same logic leads to Russell Westbrook making the team, as the Thunder and Clippers have been stunningly good this year. Zach Randolph is the backbone of another top West team in Memphis, as is David Lee, who is having a 20-10 year for the up-and-coming Golden State Warriors. The Portland Trail Blazers have been better than expected, and LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be the backbone of the team. Finally, it’s best to have a player on the team representing the host city, and the Rockets’ James Harden is having a year that practically begs for him to be on the squad.
— Bill Ingram
Russell Westbrook, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is option 1B for team with the best record in the NBA. By similar logic Serge Ibaka should get consideration with his improved offensive game. Instead, LaMarcus Aldridge gets the final front court spot, leading a very thin Portland Trail Blazers roster into near contention. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker should represent the always dominant San Antonio Spurs. James Harden has been a revelation, carrying the Houston Rockets.
That leaves two spots for the Golden State Warriors who have been a pleasant surprise this season. Both Stephen Curry or David Lee are having career years. They deserve to represent the Warriors in Houston. The Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz are the unfortunate snubs.
— Eric Pincus
Two clear choices to round out the guard selections on the Western Conference roster would have to be former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Each a top-six scorer in the NBA season, both the Houston Rocket’s Harden and OKC’s Westbrook have proven to be two of the most explosive and productive guards in the conference this year.
In the frontcourt, grizzled 15-year veteran Tim Duncan should be a lock as he’s having one of his best seasons in years while averaging a robust 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Joining the 36-year old Duncan in the frontcourt reserve category should be first-time All Star David Lee and second-timer LaMarcus Aldridge. Quietly in Portland, Aldridge is one of only two players (LeBron James) in the NBA to average over 20 points and eight rebounds per contest – posting 20.5 points to go along with nearly nine rebounds a game. Meanwhile, Lee is dropping a double-double a night for the Warriors as one of the anchors of the 25-15 Golden State Warriors as both young forwards are deserving of All Star nods.
With the Wild Card spots, it’s difficult to go against taking Zach Randolph and Stephen Curry as the final two Western Conference All Stars. Leading the Grizzlies to the fourth-best record in the West, Randolph continues to prove how valuable he is in Memphis. For the Warriors, Curry shook off his recent injury history to produce a highly successful first half of the 2012-13 NBA Season. Averaging nearly 21 points to go along with 6.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, Curry deserves to make his first All Star appearance as the final pick in the West.
— Derek Page