NBA All-Star starters announced

Here are the starters for the NBA All-Star Game:

EAST: Gilbert Arenas, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Shaquille O’Neal

WEST: Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Yao Ming

After comparing these lineups to my picks a few days ago, I have a few questions:

Why is Shaquille O’Neal even on the team, much less a starter?

As voting closed, O’Neal had appeared in four games and averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game, while shooting 45% from the field. Meanwhile, a guy by the name of Dwight Howard played in 41 games, and averaged 17.0 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, while shooting 56.5% from the field. Is Howard really a center? That’s debatable, but he was listed at center on the ballot and should be starting for the East. O’Neal shouldn’t even be on the 12-man roster.

Why can’t the back-to-back MVP get some love?

Steve Nash is on pace to set career highs in points, assists, FG% and 3PT%. Plus, he is the leader of the Suns, the team with the second-best record in the league. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Tracy McGrady, who has managed to keep the Rockets afloat without Yao Ming. One could argue that McGrady deserves a spot on the team, but with his 42.7 FG%, he’s not a starter. Not when you have Nash sitting there.

Are Americans stlll upset about WWII?

Apparently. That’s the only credible reason for leaving Dirk Nowitzki out of the starting lineup. The Mavs have the best record in the league and Dirk’s numbers are better than both Duncan and Garnett. Sure, both those guys play better defense, but the Mavs’ success hinges on Nowitzki’s play, and he deserves to start.

Other thoughts: I don’t have a problem with Chris Bosh being selected over Jermaine O’Neal. The two were statistically similar and the Raptors and Pacers are pretty close in the Eastern standings…Carlos Boozer deserves to start, but it’s not surprising that Duncan and Garnett were selected before him. The way balloting is currently set up, it’s a popularity contest and Boozer hasn’t been popular since he left the Cavs in a lurch a few years ago…I have to hand it to the fans, they got Gilbert Arenas right. For a while there, it was looking like Vince Carter was going to start, but Arenas made a push and finished 3,010 votes ahead of Carter, the fourth-closest margin in history.

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