On Thursday, January 22, the 2015 NBA All-Star Starters were announced. The Western Conference starting five features G Stephen Curry, who received the most votes, G Kobe Bryant, F Anthony Davis, F Marc Gasol, and F Blake Griffin. The Eastern Conference starting five consists of G John Wall, G Kyle Lowry, F LeBron James, F Carmelo Anthony, and F Pau Gasol.
The Gasol brothers made history by becoming the first set of brothers to start in the same All-Star Game.
With the starters nearly set in place, the lone issue involves G Kobe Bryant’s replacement. Bryant is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a torn rotator cuff. There is still some shaking up that can occur in the Western Conference. However, the East has their starters in place and the topic of discussion then shifts toward who the reserves should be.
The remaining seven spots consist of two backcourt players, three frontcourt players, and two wildcard players that can play any position. Who deserves an All-Star nod this season and who will be snubbed? Check out these predictions.
The West is normally known for stellar guard play but the East is no slouch. With Kyrie Irving, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, DeMar DeRozan, and Jeff Teague, it’s bound that one of these players will be snubbed. Butler might sport the strongest case to make it in. Butler ranks amongst the elite in several categories: total minutes played (1st), free throws made (2nd), free throws attempted (2nd), steals (8th), total points (10th), and offensive win shares (5th). With averages of 20.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists, Butler has clearly demonstrated a superstar skill-set throughout the season. He has generated a strong argument that the coaches can’t turn down. He’s a coach’s favorite kind of player and the voting procedure only helps Butler’s case.
Wade barely slips through the cracks and makes the reserves. It is mind boggling that Wade didn’t make the starters since it was decided by fan voting. That surely signaled a changing of the guards. While Wade is having a solid season with averages of 21.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists, Miami is four games below .500 and are in danger of falling out of the playoffs. Wade isn’t the same Wade that provided us with poster material every night but is still playing at a superstar level having being ranked 12th in points per game and player efficiency rating. There may have been a changing of the guards, but Wade is still All-Star material.
Atlanta finally gets their All-Star representative. Horford has been one of the driving forces that have lead Atlanta to 36-8 record, best in the Eastern Conference. We sometimes forget how great of a player Horford is. He can shoot, rebound, defend and demonstrates a high basketball IQ being at the center position. While he may not be dominant at one single aspect of the game, his overall play contributes to the success of the team.
The Big Three will unofficially reunite at MSG with Bosh and Wade both being selected as reserves. After having down years recently, Bosh has seen a numbers increase with the departure of LeBron James. He has upped his numbers to 21.2 points per game (the highest per game total since joining Miami), 7.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He presents a stronger case when his 3-PT % is brought into the discussion as he is averaging 38.1% from long-range. The All-Star game streak for Bosh has a great chance to push the number to double digits.
Love snatches up the final frontcourt reserve spot. While the plan in Cleveland isn’t working to fruition and Love isn’t the same Love we saw in Minnesota last year, his All-Star game resume is still solid. Love is ranked 13th in free throws made, 6th in total rebounds, 5th in defensive rebounds, 10th in rebounds per game, and is 19th in offensive win-shares. Cleveland has been streaking as of late, winning their last five games, strengthening Love’s case for an All-Star bid.
After missing out on getting voted in as a starter, which resulted in him not collecting a $7-million bonus, Irving takes his spot as a wildcard. While this creates an awkward scenario between past and current teammates, Irving has earned the right to the All-Star Game. We all know about his offensive prowess (20.9 points per game and 5.2 assists per game) and his mesmerizing handles, but his defense has been a strong aspect of his game (19th in total steals). He is also tied for 10th in offensive win shares, tied with his teammate and starter for the All-Star Game, LeBron James.
Paul Millsap/Jeff Teague
The Atlanta Hawks record may actually be the downfall of any Hawks’ players’ All-Star Game chances. While Kyle Korver is having an unbelievable season chasing 50-50-90, his perceived one-dimensional play takes away nearly any chance of him making the game. Teague and Millsap both lead the Hawks in points (1st and 2nd respectively), and excel in their area. Millsap is averaging 8.0 rebounds per game and Teague is averaging 7.5 assists per game. Atlanta deserves to be rewarded for their success, but unfortunately someone will end up with the short stick.