Earlier this week, we discussed the probable Western Conference representatives for the All-Star Game in New Orleans. As a follow-up, we will now discuss the likely representatives from the Eastern Conference. Before we continue, however, we must make an addendum in relation to our earlier picks.
Per NBA rules, if any player is voted into the game as a starter but cannot play due to injury, the NBA commissioner is then charged with the duty of appointing a replacement starter. Accordingly, if Kobe Bryant, the leading vote-getter in the Western backcourt pool at the moment, is unable to play, commissioner David Stern would then be left to pick a replacement starter. Assuming Chris Paul (currently in third) misses the game due to injury as well, the replacement starter should turn out the be James Harden–the best player out of the remaining pool.
Let’s now take our attention the the Eastern Conference. The current leaders in voting for backcourt players are Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wade has missed time due to the Heat’s insistence on holding him out of back-to-back games (due to his usual knee soreness at this stage of his career), and Irving missed games recently, Neither player appears to be suffering from serious injury at the moment, however, and should both be expected to start.
The rest of the Eastern backcourt pool, after the third returns, appear to be sentimental picks. Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, despite having been ruled out for the season, is currently in third. Fellow Point Guard Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics is in sixth despite not having played a single minute this season. Heat sixth-man Ray Allen is in fifth despite coming off the bench, and Deron Williams of the Brooklyn Nets is in seventh–although he is averaging the fewest points, assists, and steals since his rookie season.
As for the frontcourt returns in the East, the current leaders are LeBron James of the Miami Heat, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. The most interesting facet of these returns is that neither James, George, nor Anthony has logged significant minutes as a Center. Though all three have the ability to play both Forward positions, it would be amusing to watch James matchup opposite Dwight Howard (likely the Center for the Western Conference).
Anthony, the player in third in voting, is more than 300,000 votes ahead of fourth-place Roy Hibbert of the Pacers. With the starters likely to be Irving, Wade, George, Anthony, and James, we’ll turn our attention to the likely bench representatives. Keep in mind that the bench is comprised of two backcourt players, three frontcourt players, and two wildcards.
The frontcourt is the easiest to predict with Hibbert and Heat big-man Chris Bosh coming in fourth and fifth. These are the most reasonable choices at this point, though Brooklyn Nets Power Forward Kevin Garnett is currently in sixth–obviously a sentimental pick. Head coaches should know better than to select Garnett given his abysmal play this season. Therefore, the third frontcourt player will likely be culled from either Bulls Center Joakim Noah, Pistons Center Andre Drummond, Knicks Center Tyson Chandler, or Celtics Forward Jeff Green.
The frontcourt crop of talent in the East is much deeper than the backcourt and should provide the wildcard choices as well for the bench. The only sure-fire backcourt bench choice would be Wizards’ Point Guard John Wall. The other backcourt bench selection should probably come from either Indiana with Lance Stephenson or George Hill, or Toronto with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan both having impressive seasons. Out of these four players, Stephenson probably deserves a bench spot the most given his role as a valuable starter on the Eastern Conference best Indiana team.
With Wall and Stephenson on the bench for the backcourt and Hibbert and Bosh as sure-fire frontcourt selections, we can probably expect both Noah and Drummond to make the roster, with one filling the final frontcourt spot and the other as a wildcard pick. The last representative at wildcard should, in our opinion, be either DeRozan or Green, as both players are posting respectable numbers while leading teams that are competing for the Atlantic Division lead. With the Raptors currently leading the division, we’ll take DeRozan for the final roster spot.
The final returns are still a few weeks away, so we’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the season’s first half plays out.
By Austin Murphy – WonderPunter