Thursday, January 29, 2009

NBA All-Star '09: Who will be there?

The fans have spoken and, for the most part, they've done a good job selecting the All-Star starters. Here they are:
Guard - Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
Forward - Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire
Center - Yao Ming

Guard - Dwyane Wade, Allen Iverson
Forward - LeBron James, Kevin Garnett
Center - Dwight Howard
Not bad. The sketchiest pick is probably Iverson, who may not have made the team without his popularity with the fans. Now the coaches' picks for the All-Star reserves will be announced later tonight. There is sure to be plenty of complaining about who should have made it once these selections are released.

Here is my list of predictions for the All-Star reserves, based on a combination of what I think will happen and what should happen. Remember only seven guys from each conference can make it.

These guys are very likely to make the team: Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups
My other picks: Shaquille O'Neal, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol, Al Jefferson
Other possibilities: Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash
Darkhorses: Jason Terry, David West, Paul Millsap, Deron Williams, Manu Ginobili

Jefferson and Durant are in the same situation: they're good young players putting up good stats on bad teams. However, their fortunes have turned around lately with the Timberwolves 10-3 in January with one game (vs. the Lakers) left in the month, and the Thunder winning six of their last nine games. Carmelo's situation could be compromised by an injury, though he is now cleared to play again.

Very likely: Danny Granger, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson
Likely: Paul Pierce, Devin Harris
My other picks: Jameer Nelson, Ray Allen
Other possibilities: Vince Carter, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis
Darkhorses: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mo Williams, Tayshaun Prince, David Lee

Team record could be the deciding factor in some of these choices. The Boston Three Party might all make the team, and Ray Allen is shooting the lights out, which, along with team record, could propel him ahead of one of the Nets' two candidates. A second Orlando player (Nelson, Lewis, Turkoglu) would appear likely to be chosen. We'll see if LeBron gets a Cavs teammate in Phoenix.

The Eastern Conference predictions come with one caveat: selecting a backup center is mandatory, and I didn't choose a true center. However, coaches can list a player under their secondary position if they get substantial playing time at that spot. In this case, I make the assumption that Bosh gets picked as a center. Otherwise, it could be Ilgauskas, or another hybrid forward/center who plays center more often than Bosh (David Lee?).

UPDATE: The coaches votes are in, and I got them right, except David West got Al Jefferson's spot in the West, and Rashard Lewis is there in the East instead of Ray Allen.
Re-UPDATE: The NBA's commish has chosen Ray Allen as the injury replacement for Jameer Nelson. Mo Williams was later selected as an injury replacement for Chris Bosh.

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