What qualifies a player to be selected to participate in an All-Star Game? Is he one of the 12 best in his conference? If that’s the criteria, then what are the specific qualifications?
Numbers? But which ones? If this is the standard it should be noted that star-quality players on bad teams generally have better statistics than do elite players on competitive ball clubs. That’s because players on sad-sack teams perform under minimal pressure and are also likely to inflate their numbers while on the short end of blowouts.
Perhaps other facets of performance should be considered. Like an individual player’s specific value to his specific team. Sort of like a very loose and preliminary MVP situation.
And what about leadership? Or a player’s ability to be routinely spectacular?
The real answer is that there’s no real answer – which is why All-Star selections always lead to arguments and disappointments, among the players, the coaches and the fans.
That said, here are my own subjective evaluations of who belongs and who doesn’t belong in the upcoming star-studded contest.
For the West, there can be no argument with Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Andrew Bynum being voted into the starting lineup. But it says here that Kevin Love is more worthy of this particular honor than Blake Griffin.
Although Griffin is a more explosive player with quicker ups, Love’s offense is much more polished and diverse, he’s a superior shooter and passer and also a better rebounder. Neither of these two play much defense, but Love gets the edge because he is more advanced in the faux art of flopping.
Among the subs voted by the coaches, LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Steve Nash are no-brainers.
But Dirk Nowitzki is a no-no. Despite his recent splurge, he’s still having a down season. Blame his age and also his frustration at the dismantling the championship team – and the lack of faith by management that this dispersal implies. Instead of Nowitzki, Al Jefferson is the bedrock of the surprisingly Jazz and deserves to be playing on February 26 in Orlando.
Similarly, Marc Gasol doesn’t belong among this particular group of elites. It’s been his teammate, Rudy Gay, who’s carried the Grizzlies offense in the absence of Zach Randolph.
Should any of the above suffer incapacitating injuries in the meantime, worthy replacements could be Monta Ellis and/or James Harden.
In the East, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard are shoo-ins. But while Carmelo Anthony deserves All-Star status, Paul Pierce should have been in the starting lineup. That’s because Melo only knows how to score (but rarely in the clutch), while PP knows how to play the entire game.
Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Roy Hibbert are A-OK (even if the last named reminds old-timers like me of Ray Felix).
Like Nowitzki, Deron Williams was selected because of the greatness of his total career up till now. It’s understandable that Williams has experienced a lack of full-time intensity while laboring with the downtrodden Nets, yet he’s a keeper.
I heartily approve of Luol Deng because it’s the incredible improvement in his offense which makes Chicago a legitimate championship contender. While Andre Iguodala is always rock-steady, a righteous replacement for him would be Rondo, who (along with Chris Paul) can absolutely dominate any given game from the point guard slot.
Emergency substitutions for the East squad might include Louis Williams, Josh Smith and/or Danny Granger.
In any case, the 24 players in uniform will provide both an exciting showcase and a high-flying standard of excellence.