Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I Love the NBA All-Star Game
By Zach

So, today saw the announcement of All-Star Reserves for the NBA.

The Teams currently look something like this

East:

PG-Allen Iverson, Gilbert Arenas
SG-LeBron James, Dwyane Wade
F-Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Antwan Jamison
F-Grant Hill, Jermaine O'Neal, Ben Wallace
C-Shaquille O'Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

West:

G-Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash
G-Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen
F-Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Manu Ginobili
F-Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitski, Rashard Lewis
C-Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire

I have to say that I thought that the selections were on the most part pretty damn good. The coaches did a good job of rewarding players who didn't just put up big numbers, but really helped their teams win. Hence each of the top 4 teams in the league (San Antonio, Phoenix, Seattle, and Miami) having at least two representatives. The other teams that got two (Washington, Cleveland, and Houston) are all playing quite well right now, the Wizards better than anyone had thought and the Rockets have greatly improved after a very slow start. Plus, T-Mac and Yao were selected by the fans, so what are you gonna do about that? The only beef I could see is with Ilgauskas...with Shaq and Ben Wallace, you already have two centers, so Big Z becomes a bit redundant...and probably a guy like Steve Francis deserved to go, but that's a minor quibble.

Clearly the feel good story of the rosters is the reappearance of fan (and personal) favorite Grant Hill. Him being healthy is one of the best things about this season (somewhere behind the resurgance of my beloved Sonics, and the fact that up-tempo basketball is finally having a revival after nearly being murdered by Jeff Van Gundy), and I'm looking forward to seeing him try and guard either Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan on February 20th...come to think of it, maybe he should hope to get hurt before then.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't talk about what is sure to be one of the more controversial topics about the selection process...the inclusion of players like Rashard Lewis, Shawn Marion, and Manu Ginobili as second (or third) players from their teams ahead of guys like Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Brad Miller, Pau Gasol, Elton Brand, or maybe even Jason Richardson, all of who have put up equal or better stats and would the their team's sole representative.

But the fact remains that the coaches have chosen to reward Seattle, San Antonio, and Phoenix for being the best three teams in the West. With the cases of Lewis and Ginobili, it's the improved play of those players that have helped key their team's excellence. Marion has also upped his stats some, and has done it while playing out of position at the 4 spot all year. Of the three, I think Marion's case is the weakest, as the arrival of Steve Nash, and the improved play of Amare Stoudemire (and even Joe Johnson) have more to do with the Suns 38-11 record than Marion. Plus, he has the ugliest shot in the NBA, not something we want to showcase.

Webber and Bibby have put up good, but not great, numbers, certainly not by their lofty standards. Miller is hurt by the fact that Stoudemire plays center, making his inclusion unnecessary. Gasol and Brand have put up solid numbers, and their teams are playing ok, but it's hard to really argue that either should unseat a guy on the roster. And Richardson has put up big point totals, but has also taken a ton of shots on a terrible team.

As it stands, the presence of two Sonics for the first time since 1998 (Gary Payton and Vin Baker), plus the promise of some tremendous up and down play, has me as excited for the All-Star game as I've ever been. Plus, we've got Luke Ridnour in the Rookie-Sophomore game and Ray and Vlad Radmanovic in the Three-Point Shootout...heady times in SonicLand!

**Edit 5:44 PM 2/8**

In response to Tony Mejia's column on CBS Sportsline, I wrote this:

Personally, I think it's hard too get too animated about it. Webber has been on the team for the last few years, and his play has started to slip. Second, Webber has been hurt very lately...when do coaches make their selection? Right now...so if Webber is out, it's hard to take him over other players. Plus, with Bibby and Miller probably garnering support, it's hard to say which should rep. the Kings.

But the truth is that while Webber is an effective player, he's fairly boring to watch now. Sure, Duncan may be too, but he's also the best player in the league, which isn't the case with Webber. Chris just takes a bunch of jump shots, which, while often effective, aren't particularly fun to watch.

So while Mejia may have a point that Webber has the stats to be an All-Star, it's also hard to say that guys like Ginobili and Lewis, who have greatly raised their level of play, and that of their team, don't deserve to go. Sadly, there are only 12 roster spots, and more guys who deserve to go. At least Chris can use the time off to rest his knees.

3 Comments:

Blogger Brian said...

You say Bibby and Web are putting up good, not great numbers, by their lofty standards.

Bibby's stats are close to the best in his career (18+ PPg and 6+ assists) and Webber is second among forwards in assists behind LeBron James.

And, while you mention rewarding the top three teams in the West, the fourth best team at time of selections, the Kings, are completely slighted, despite being one game behind Seattle at the time of selections and a few games ahead of Houston, who was sixth in the West.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Agreed. It's not that I don't think that the Kings deserve an all-star, it's that it's hard to figure out who deserves to go. I think Bibby is the best bet, especially because he's the guy who Adelman trusts in the clutch. He just happens to have the misfortune of being stuck behind Nash and Allen, both of whom deserve to go more in my mind. If Kobe had stayed hurt, I think the additional roster spot should and would have gone to Bibby.

As for the argument that the Kings were close behind the Sonics in the standings, that's of course true, but they were playing at a level equal to or below where they've been for the last couple of years, while the Sonics and Suns were playing well above that level. The Suns adding Nash and the improved play of Stoudemire and Marion has a lot to do with their phenomenal success, as does the improved play of Rashard Lewis for the Sonics. Meanwhile, while Bibby has improved, Webber has declined due to age and injury, Stojakovic is unhappy and has been terribly inconsistant, and Brad Miller has been the third or fourth best center in the West.

So while I agree that in a perfect world the Kings would have an All-Star, their not having one is a function of a couple of surprise teams and their sustained quality of play.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

Just another point of comparison on Webber v. Lewis.

The Kings are 10-5 when Webber is their leading scorer, the Sonics are 15-5 when Lewis is their leading scorer.

Not sure what that means.

6:43 PM  

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