Yesterday, I wrote about who should be the reserves for the Eastern Conference All Star team. It was a pretty damn good piece of writing. Today, I’m going to try to emulate that type of success by writing about who should be given the honor of backing up Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. This is a list of who SHOULD make the team, not who actually will, because we know this is a Mean Girls-esque popularity contest.
Like yesterday’s column, I’ll pick two guards, two forwards, a center, and the next two best players. The real rosters don’t come out until Thursday, but do not be alarmed when these predictions are pretty much spot on.
Western Conference Reserves
Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City- This choice is pretty easy. Westbrook is one of the best guards in the entire league, and is having his best season as a pro. He’s third amongst West guards in scoring, second in rebounding, and fourth in assists. Altogether, that’s a pretty impressive resume. If Chris Paul weren’t having an outstanding season, Westbrook could easily slide into a starter’s role on the All Star team. Westbrook also has great style, so I’d like to see what he busts out in Houston.
Stephen Curry, G, Golden State- The Warriors have been surprisingly successful this year, and it’s not a big mystery why. Despite always having talent, the Warriors were derailed in the past by injuries. Not this year. This Ms. Prissypants has managed to avoid missing games and has finally put up the numbers we knew he could. Usually he’s a strong gust of wind from missing a month, but this year he’s stayed on the court and produced 20+ points a game. He rebounds and passes the ball well, and shoots very high percentage shots. He has quick hands and plays exceptional defense on the perimeter. His biggest asset is his ability to run the point, or slide into the shooting guard’s role.
David Lee, PF, Golden State- Quick, when was the last time the Golden State Warriors had two All Stars? Seriously, go look it up, I can wait. If my predictions are correct, which they should be, the Lee will be the second player to represent the Warriors and is very worthy of the honor. Lee averages a double-double with 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He’s not much of a force on the defensive end, but he shoots over 50% from the field and almost 80% from the free throw line. Lee is more than good enough to make this All Star roster.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland- Aldridge has secretly been one of the best players in the Western Conference for a couple years. He’s second in the West amongst forwards in scoring, behind Kevin Durant. The Blazers have a triumvirate of fringe All Stars with Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum, but the team as a whole isn’t good enough to warrant the inclusion of more than one of these guys. Aldridge is the best player on Portland and has played well enough to earn a spot in Houston.
Marc Gasol, C, Memphis- Gasol has been a dominate force of fundamental nature in the post for the Grizzlies. He’s a big, fat, hairy Spaniard that plays the game like a big, fat, hairy Spaniard. He can shoot a mid-range jumper, he makes free throws, he blocks out and moves people to get his share of the boards, and he probably has a great sense of humor. There aren’t many true centers left in the world, but Gasol is one, and he is a good one.
Best of the Rest
James Harden, SG, Houston- Let the hometown kid play. Best known for his beard, Harden has channeled the power of the chin mop and used his newfound powers to score. Lots. Harden is third in the West in scoring, behind Durant and Kobe Bryant. He sees the court very well for a shooting guard, and it shows in his stat line. Harden averages 5.3 assists a game, which is first among shooting guards in the West. Above average perimeter defense, combined with an outstanding offensive game, make Harden deserving of a spot on the All Star roster.
Tim Duncan, PF/C, San Antonio- Someday Duncan has to start to slow down, right? This year he’s looked like a power forward in his prime, but the man is 36 years old. His 17.3 points per game ranks him fifteenth in the West. He’s shooting over 50% from the field, and is shooting 82% from the free throw line, which is 13% higher than his career average. Where he’s shocked me the most has been on the defensive end. He’s second in the West in blocked shots, at 2.78 per game. Shot blocking is a young man’s skill, but Timmy continues to defy logic and is swatting shots like it’s 1997.