2016 NBA All-Star Selection Roundtable

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The All-Star Game is always an exciting part of the NBA season. It’s a chance to see some of the game’s best players go head-to-head. With the league announcing the All-Star starters tonight, myself and a few society members decided to make our own picks for the lineups. We divided the questions from our starting lineup picks (2 guards and 3 front court players) to the reserves (2 guards, 3 front court) and 2 wild card players.

Members:

1. What is your starting lineup for the East?

De Falco: John Wall (WAS), Jimmy Butler (CHI), LeBron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), Andre Drummond (DET)

LeBron James is an automatic lock-in to represent the East. Paul George is also a lock-in continuing his great comeback from that leg injury two summers ago. John Wall still continues to lead Washington as the best point guard in the East. Jimmy Butler and Andre Drummond are rising stars in their respective divisions. 

Walt: Kyle Lowry (TOR), Jimmy Butler (CHI), LeBron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), Andre Drummond (DET)

These are the best players at each individual position in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry deserves the start to represent Toronto. Jimmy Butler has emerged as a true star. LeBron James and Paul George are two top-10 NBA stars. Andre Drummond’s 17.6 points and 15.5 rebounds per game has blown away everyone’s expectations.

Soaries: Kyle Lowry (TOR), Jimmy Butler (CHI), LeBron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), Andre Drummond (DET)

If you ask me, these are the five best players at their positions in the conference in terms of performance and success, which is how I made my picks. Lowry boasts the highest PER of his career (23.2) and leads all East guards in that category while also leading the conference’s second best team and offense. Jimmy Butler has formally surpassed Dwyane Wade as the best two-guard in the conference, LeBron is still a lock-in, Paul George got off to a monstrous MVP-caliber first quarter of the season, and Andre Drummond has been the most dominant big in the East.

Mpacko: Kyle Lowry (Tor), Jimmy Butler (CHI),  LeBron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), Andre Drummond (DET).

Hard to imagine Jimmy Butler getting the starting nod over Dwyane Wade, but there is no question he’s the best 2 Guard in the East. There have been some rumblings over Kyrie Irving, however, he hasn’t played enough games to truly deserve a starting nod. The rest of the names on my list are no-brainers.

Allan: Kyrie Irving (CLE), Dwyane Wade (MIA), Lebron James (CLE), Paul George (IND), Andre Drummond (DET).

Choosing Paul George and Drummond seemed like a surprise but George is having a monster of a “career” year and Drummond is finally coming into fruition. The other three were locks.

2. What is your starting lineup for the West?

De Falco: Stephen Curry (GS), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kevin Durant (OKC), Kobe Bryant (LAL), Anthony Davis (NO).

Curry is the reigning MVP and is one of the top players in the league right now along with Durant, Davis and Westbrook. Kobe Bryant after 20 years is playing in his last All-Star game so it is only fitting that he gets the start.  

Walt: Stephen Curry (GSW), Kobe Bryant (LAL), Kevin Durant (OKC), Anthony Davis (NOP), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)

Stephen Curry has emerged as the NBA’s best player. Kobe Bryant is in his final season and last All-Star game of his illustrious career. Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the Western Conference. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are the best players in the NBA at their respective positions.

Soaries: Stephen Curry (GSW), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kevin Durant (OKC), Kawhi Leonard (SAS), Draymond Green (GSW)

Wildcards: Kobe Bryant (LAL), Anthony Davis (NOLA)

Be advised, I know full well that Kobe Bryant will be starting for the West, and I believe that’s how it should be. These are my objective picks as to who should reasonably be starting for the West, and frankly I just really want to see this lineup on the floor at some point. Steph, Russ, and KD should be no-brainers. I don’t know why anyone would want to argue that Kawhi Leonard shouldn’t be be a starter, he ranks second in the league in Win Shares. Draymond Green may or may not be a shocker, but when you consider his impact on the best team in the league, I’m giving him the nod over the likes of Griffin, Davis, Cousins, or Gasol.

Mpacko: Stephen Curry (GSW), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kobe Bryant (LAL),  Kevin Durant (OKC),  Kawhi Leonard (SAS).

The least deserving guy on this list is Kobe Bryant, and that’s absolutely fine. In the same breath, Kobe is also the most deserving guy on this list. Steph and Westbrook get the nods at the guard spots. There aren’t any forwards playing better than Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant at the moment out West.

Allan: Stephen Curry (GS), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kobe Bryant (LAL), Kevin Durant (OKC), Draymond Green (GS)

Curry is a lock with the improved season he is having and Kobe is having his farewell tour.

3. Who are your reserves in the Eastern Conference?

De Falco: Kyle Lowry (TOR), Dwyane Wade (MIA), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Paul Millsap (ATL), Chris Bosh (MIA)

Wildcards: Isaiah Thomas (BOS), DeMar DeRozan (TOR)

Kyle Lowry is right behind Wall as the top point guard in the East. Dwyane Wade even at his age is still playing at an All-Star level. Carmelo Anthony has improved this Knicks squad passing the ball around and taking better shots. Paul Millsap is my sleeper pick for this year as the former 2014 and 2015 All-Star is leading the Hawks in scoring (18.5) and rebounds (8.7). Chris Bosh has always been consistent for Miami and should go unnoticed since he is still putting up good numbers after having a life-threating blood clot in his lungs. The wildcard spots are tough but I ended up going with Isaiah Thomas and DeMar DeRozen because they are both the top scoring guards in their conference. 

Walt: John Wall (WAS), Dwyane Wade (MIA), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Paul Millsap (ATL), Pau Gasol (CHI)

Wildcards: Isaiah Thomas (BOS), Chris Bosh (MIA)

With Kyrie Irving’s early season injury, no one is close to John Wall for point guard talent in the Eastern Conference. Dwyane Wade deserves to be an All-Star until he retires. Carmelo Anthony’s 3.9 assists per game is his career-high, advancing his offensive game to another level. Paul Millsap is the NBA’s best player no one talks about. Pau Gasol has been tearing up the NBA averaged 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game since December. Isaiah Thomas leads all Eastern Conference playoff point guards in points per game. Chris Bosh is a consistent force who has come back strong from a blood clot.

Soaries: John Wall (WAS), DeMar DeRozan (TOR), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Paul Millsap (ATL), Chris Bosh (MIA)

Wildcards: Isaiah Thomas (BOS), Dwyane Wade (MIA)

Another example of knowing that Wade will probably be voted in, but I have no issue with that. DeRozan deserves to be an All-Star again. His PER (21.01) is third best among shooting guards behind James Harden and Jimmy Butler. Wall and Lowry have had more success, but Isaiah Thomas has been a complete terror as the conference’s leading scorer at the position. Pau Gasol might deserve a nod over Carmelo Anthony (I’m not willing to let up on Millsap or Bosh) but I give Melo my vote for having a transformative season as an all around player. Hassan Whiteside is very tough to leave out. The East forwards make things pretty tough.

Mpacko: DeMar DeRozan (TOR), John Wall (WAS), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Paul Millsap (ATL), Chris Bosh (MIA).

Wildcards: Isaiah Thomas (BOS), Kyrie Irving (CLE).

Lowry and Wall are turning out All-Star years, Melo Millsap and Bosh have been solid as well. Isaiah Thomas is a guy who should get in by the skin of his teeth, although he’s been the spark behind the Celtics’ stay in the East’s Playoff Race. DeRozan quite arguably has been the East’s second best 2 Guard this term, thus very deserving of an ASG appearance in front of his home crowd. Kyrie Irving would be a lock to start had it not been for his early season injury. 

Allan: Kyle Lowry (TOR), John Wall (WAS), Carmelo Anthony (NYK), Paul Millsap (ATL), Chris Bosh (MIA)

Wildcards: Isaiah Thomas (BOS),  Jimmy Butler (CHI)

Jimmy Butler should even get a consideration for starting and John Wall continues to impress once again.

4. Who are your reserves in the Western Conference?

De Falco: Klay Thompson (GS), James Harden (HOU), Kawhi Leonard (SA), Draymond Green (GS), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)

Wildcards: Chris Paul (LAC), Damian Lillard (POR)

The west is very powerful. With the amount of talent you see here, you really can make two 12-man rosters. Klay Thompson and James Harden are the best shooting guards in the league. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the best full time centers we have left in this league. Both Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green are great all around players looking to make their first All-Star appearance. Both Chris Paul and Damian Lillard are behind Westbrook and Curry for the top point guard in the West. 

Walt: Russell Westbrook (OKC), James Harden (HOU), Kawhi Leonard (SAS), Draymond Green (GSW), Tim Duncan (SAS)

Klay Thompson (GSW), Blake Griffin (LAC)

Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard on the bench is insane. Westbrook and Harden could start if Kobe Bryant wasn’t retiring. Leonard, Draymond Green and Tim Duncan are three of the NBA’s best defenders. Klay Thompson and Blake Griffin are too electrifying of players to avoid on All-Star weekend. The West is loaded with talent.

Soaries: James Harden (HOU), Chris Paul (LAC), Tim Duncan (SAS), Blake Griffin (LAC), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)

Wildcards: Damian Lillard (POR), Anthony Davis (NO), Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)

The thing is, Kobe is going to be voted as a starter, which means one of the main forwards will slide down to a reserve. That will either be Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green. Damian Lillard is playing well as of late, but missed some time with a foot injury and is part of a sub-.500 team. Klay Thompson could easily be there, but he’s another victim of having too many elite guards in front of him. I think Blake Griffin is a true wild card because of his recently missed time. Davis may get the nod over Duncan based on the fans voting, but Duncan’s and the Spurs’ defensive dominance is statistically insane. DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have to make the roster as a replacement this season. No question that he’s deserving on his own merit — he’s averaging 31 and 13 in January and the Kings are actually in the playoff hunt.

I had to add Dirk. The guy is shooting 45-40-90 and still anchoring the Mavericks.

Mpacko: James Harden (HOU),  Chris Paul (LAC), Draymond Green (GSW), Anthony Davis (NO), DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)

Wildcards: Marc Gasol (MEM), Damian Lillard (POR)

The usual suspects show up on my reserves list. No arguments there; Draymond Green is playing out of his mind. The loaded West Guard landscape will always leave a few key names out of the mix, this year I think Klay gets left out. 

Allan: Kawhi Leonard (SA), Damian Lillard (POR), Kay Thompson (GS), Anthony Davis (NO), Blake Griffin (LAC)

Wildcards: James Harden (HOU), Chris Paul (LAC).

Every one of these players is deserving of a starting position in the West, especially Kawhi Leonard who is sitting behind Kobe who, once again, is in his last All-Star game.

5. Who should coach both conferences?

De Falco: David Blatt (CLE), Luke Walton* (GSW)

All-Star coaches are usually guys that have the best record in each conference. While Luke Walton’s might not necessarily  count on his record, he is still leading is Warriors team to a historical season. 

Walt: Brad Stevens (BOS), Luke Walton* (GSW)

Brad Stevens is well-liked and respected around the NBA. He led a team of role players to the playoffs last season, and is currently the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. If he coaches role players well, could you imagine him coaching a team of All-Stars? The Warriors are 38-4 and Luke Walton deserves a lot of credit. He has coached. The Warriors look like they haven’t skipped a beat and are on the road to repeating. Since Walton has coached the best team, he deserves to coach the best on the weekend that honors the best. He is my pick for mid-season coach of the year.

Soaries: David Blatt (CLE), Luke Walton* (GSW)

If not Walton, then Popovich. If not Blatt, then who? It’s not that I don’t think the East has All-Star coaching caliber. I’d love to see Mike Budenholzer, Brad Stevens, or even Stan Van Gundy coach the East squad. But this is where tradition really takes precedence. The coaches of the best teams are typically chosen. I’m starting to think it would be cool to mix it up at some point in the future.

Mpacko: David Blatt (CLE), Gregg Popovich (SAS)

Not sure if the repeat coach rule applies to Luke Walton, since Kerr is officially the coach of the Warriors and coached in the ASG last year. If so, then the next logical choice would be none other than Gregg Popovich. David Blatt gets the nod out East. 

Allan: David Blatt (CLE), Gregg Popovich (SA)

This one was tough but I guess the best teams in each conference would have to be coaching the All-Star teams as well.

6. Who do you see being snubbed from the All-Star Game this season?

De Falco: In the East I see Brook Lopez, Nikola Vucevic and Hassan Whiteside all getting serious consideration but in the end I can all of them getting snubbed. The NBA has moved into the small ball era so big men like the guys listed above might not get as much consideration. In the West, Mike Conley has always been in the conversation as an All-Star snub. Since he is in the West it is hard for him to make it over guys like Westbrook, Curry, CP3 and Damian Lillard. 

Walt: Kristaps Porzingis went from mystery project to NBA cornerstone in the blink of an eye. He has proved to the Knicks he can score, defend, and protect the rim in his rookie season. He has thrived in the spotlight, and everyone wants to watch him play. After DeAndre Jordan re-signed with the Clippers, I thought the Mavericks would be terrible. Dirk Nowitzki has prevented that and kept the Mavericks relevant in the Western Conference. Nowitzki has one season left in him and will be represented in the 2017 NBA game.

Soaries: Most likely a deserving forward in the West will take a hit just because of Kobe. I think Hassan Whiteside will be somewhat of a snub in the East (he blocks four shots per game). 

Mpacko: Demar Derozan is a name that comes to mind in the East. Guys like Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki would most likely be snubs out West.

Allan: Jimmy Butler really deserves as many votes as LeBron because he is playing on that level. Kawhi Leonard is playing at an extremely high level, way beyond what Kobe is still attempting to produce.

The starting lineups are set to be announced at 7pm tonight on TNT. The reserves are selected a few days after.

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