The All-Star balloting has come to a close and TNT will announce the starters for each conference before their doubleheader on Thursday. There has been a bit of movement in the last three weeks (since I released my initial choices), so it’s a good time to release an update. Since the ballot is broken up into sections for guards, forwards and centers, I will use that methodology when discussing the starters, so it won’t matter if I have two shooting guards or two power forwards starting for a particular team.
Here’s a look at my current list of the top 12 players from each conference based on their statistical performance through January 21st. Special consideration is given to those players from winning teams.
EPG = ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)) / (Games Played)
Gilbert Arenas, G, Washington Wizards (24-16)
25.1 epg, 29.7 ppg, 6.3 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 spg
Arenas is a bonafide star and the Wizards are tied for first in the East. He’s definitely a scoring point guard, but his 6.3 assists are nothing to sneeze at. Moreover, he’s a former second-round pick, which makes his ascension all the more impressive.
Dwyane Wade, G, Miami Heat (18-22)
27.8 epg, 28.2 ppg, 7.9 apg, 4.8 rpg, 48.1 FG%
Even though Miami has struggled without Shaq, Wade has the league’s second-highest efficiency rating and has his team just a half game out of the playoffs.
LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers (24-16)
25.5 epg, 27.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.1 apg
King James has the Cavs tied for first in the East, and barring injury or change of locale, he’ll have this starting spot wrapped up for the next several years.
Jermaine O’Neal, F, Indiana Pacers (20-20)
23.5 epg, 19.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.1 bpg
This is a tossup between O’Neal and Bosh, but O’Neal gets the nod because the Pacers have one extra win and O’Neal has appeared in a higher percentage of his team’s games.
Dwight Howard, C, Orlando Magic (22-19)
22.9 epg, 17.0 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 56.5 FG%
As of January 11th, Shaquille O’Neal had garnered more votes than Howard, which goes to show just how flawed the All-Star system is. Howard will surely make the team, but he deserves to start.
Chris Bosh, F, Toronto Raptors (19-22)
23.8 epg, 21.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Bosh is the main reason that the Raptors are even in the hunt for the Atlantic title. If he can stay healthy, Toronto might just catch the aging Nets.
Caron Butler, F, Washington Wizards (24-16)
23.5 epg, 21.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.0 spg, 48.3 FG%
Those are All-Star caliber numbers. If Butler doesn’t make the team, it will probably be the most egregious snub of the year. (Anyone think the Lakers are regretting that Butler for Kwame Brown swap?)
Jason Kidd, G, New Jersey Nets (20-20)
23.9 epg, 14.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 9.1 apg, 1.9 spg
Kidd’s rebound numbers are amazing for a guard. The Nets have had a tough start, but Kidd’s play has them atop the Atlantic.
Chauncey Billups, G, Detroit Pistons (23-16)
21.2 epg, 18.1 ppg, 8.0 apg, 3.4 rpg
Billups has been steady this season and has the Pistons just a half game out of first place in the East.
Michael Redd, G, Milwaukee Bucks (17-23)
21.1 epg, 27.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg. 46.2 FG%
As of the last returns, Stephon Marbury had more votes than Redd, which is a travesty. His knee injury has hurt his resume, but he deserves a spot on the team.
Vince Carter, G, New Jersey Nets (20-20)
21.9 epg, 25.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 4.2 apg
Carter and Kidd give the Nets one of the best backcourts in the league. That’s good, because with Richard Jefferson out, they don’t have much else.
Luol Deng, F, Chicago Bulls (23-15)
19.1 epg, 17.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 52.9 FG%
Ben Gordon has been coming on of late, but Deng has been steady all season and the Bulls should be represented.
Emeka Okafor, F, Charlotte Bobcats (14-25)
21.8 epg, 14.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.9 bpg
This team is sorely lacking in size and has a dinged up player (Redd). Okafor is the next logical candidate at either forward or center.
Close, but no cigar: Paul Pierce, Richard Hamilton, Joe Johnson, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Antawn Jamison
Steve Nash, G, Phoenix Suns (32-8)
24.7 epg, 19.3 ppg, 11.5 apg, 3.2 rpg, 53.1 FG%
Nash just keeps on truckin’ and is the cog that makes the Suns go. As far as point guards go, he’s the class of the West.
Kobe Bryant, G, Los Angeles Lakers (26-15)
25.3 epg, 27.9 ppg, 5.6 apg, 5.3 rpg, 47.0 FG%
Bryant has done a terrific job of setting his teammates up while taking over when necessary. That formula has the Lakers in the fifth spot in the West despite the loss of Lamar Odom.
Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas Mavericks (34-8)
27.4 epg, 24.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 50.0 FG%
Along with the Suns, the Mavs are the class of the West and Nowitzki is having another season that has him in the running for league MVP.
Carlos Boozer, F, Utah Jazz (27-14)
27.0 epg, 22.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 56.1 FG%
Boozer is probably the biggest surprise starter this year. His play has helped the Jazz ascend to first place in the Northwest, and he’s one of only four players averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds this season.
Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets (25-16)
26.5 epg, 25.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 52.2 FG%
Prior to his injury, Yao was dominating the competition and is the best true center in the league.
Kevin Garnett, F, Minnesota Timberwolves (20-19)
29.5 epg, 22.2 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 4.3 apg
KG keeps the Wolves afloat, which means he probably won’t be traded anytime soon. It would be scary to see what he could do with another star on his team.
Carmelo Anthony, F, Denver Nuggets (20-17)
25.8 epg, 31.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 50.3 FG%
Prior to the “bitch slap,” ‘Melo was on pace for a starting spot, but Boozer gets the nod for controlling his temper, unlike Anthony.
Shawn Marion, F, Phoenix Suns (32-8)
24.9 epg, 18.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 2.1 spg, 51.5 FG%
The Matrix fills up the stat sheet and deserves another All-Star bid. He’s got an ugly shot, but he’s a very efficient scorer.
Tim Duncan, F, San Antonio Spurs (29-13)
24.4 epg, 19.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 2.1 bpg, 54.1 FG%
The Big Fundamental just keeps on chugging. He’s injury-free this year and is showing that he has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Allen Iverson, G, Denver Nuggets (20-17)
22.8 epg, 29.5 ppg, 7.5 apg, 2.1 spg
The Nuggets made a great move trading for AI, who has helped them stay afloat during ‘Melo’s suspension. It will be interesting to see how the two will co-exist.
Elton Brand, F, Los Angeles Clippers (19-21)
24.5 epg, 20.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 55.4 FG%
After a slow start, Brand has come on of late and continues to be a bright spot on a shaky Clippers team.
Josh Howard, F, Dallas Mavericks (34-8)
20.4 epg, 19.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
Howard continues to improve and is proving to be a wonderful sidekick to Nowitzki.
Close, but no cigar: Tracy McGrady, Zach Randolph, Amare Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Chris Paul, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Pau Gasol, Kevin Martin