Monday, February 4, 2008

The Final Ballot

Last week the NBA coaches made their selections to fill out the All-Star reserve rosters. They did a respectable job, selecting players worthy of the honor and leaving out the standard few that get snubbed every year. But what about the one ballot that didn't get counted? The one that most fairly and accurately selected only the most deserving NBA stars to shine in New Orleans on February 17. That's right, mine.

Here's the Tar Heel's All-Star Squads for both Conferences and a brief mention of why they made the team. The guys in italics didn't make the real rosters. An asterisk(*) indicates a shift in their roster position (going from reserve to starter or vice versa) and a number sign (#) means this is their first selection.

Dwight Howard - Orlando - 21.7 points, 14.8 boards, 2.6 blocks per game. Leads the NBA with an absurd 43 double-doubles. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the dunk contest again either. He was robbed last year.
PF Kevin Garnett - Boston - 19.2 points, 9.9 boards, 3.8 assists. The biggest reason for the Celts turnaround and the main reason Danny Ainge still has a job.
F Caron Butler - Wizards* - 21.7, 6.9, 4.4 - The most valuable player in the East right now behind LeBron. And yes, I'm getting a little creative by moving King James to the 2 and D-Wade to the point to make room for Caronimo in the starting lineup, but CB3 is more deserving that J-Kidd (the real fifth starter) and maybe the East would be better served to go with a big lineup.
LeBron James - Cleveland - 30.1 (1st in the NBA), 7.9, 7.2. The best player in the game right now. Period.
Dwyane Wade - Miami - 24.5, 4.4, 6.7. He's playing hard, which is a lot more than can be said for the rest of the worst team in basketball.

F/C Chris Bosh - Toronto
- 22.7, 9.2, 1.3 blocks - A little Canadian flavor from the East to counter Steve Nash in the West.
F Antawn Jamison - Wizards - 21.3, 10.4 - Trying to do it all for the Wizards minus Gilbert and with Caron banged up.
F Paul Pierce - Boston - 20.3, 5.7, 4.9 - The luckiest guy in the NBA this seaso after adding two studs from the West to fuel a title run.
G Ray Allen - Boston - 18.2, 4.0, 2.9 - He's had to sacrifice more than the other two big three to make their offense work. Allen is used to being the go-to guy in all situations but he's gladly taken a secondary role while continuing to make the big shots when they count. (Except for that one against the Wiz). Boston is the beast in the East and I'm willing to award them for it with three All-Star roster spots.
G Chauncey Billups - Detroit - 17.6, 3.0, 7.0 - The leader on a perennial championship contender.
G Jose Calderon - Toronto# - Calderon has the Raptors running in T.J. Ford's absence. That's good enough for me, but apparently the coaches' thought Joe Johnson was more deserving. If you're gonna stick to the "bad teams don't get rewarded" trend, the Raptors (25-21) are good. The Hawks (19-24) not so much.
G Jason Kidd - New Jersey* - 11.1, 8.1, 10.4. Supposedly quit on his team. He wants out and although his scoring is way down, he's still putting up near-triple-double numbers on a nightly basis.

Just Missed: Hedo Turkoglu (F, Orlando), Richard Hamilton (G, Detroit), Josh Smith (G, Atlanta)

C Yao Ming - Houston
- T-Mac has been in an out of the lineup all season with injuries but Yao has carried the load. He's shooting 50 percent from the field and 85 percent from the stripe (compare that to Shaq, Timmy or Howard) and keeping the Rockets (27-20) in the thick of the playoff race.
PF Tim Duncan - San Antonio - The Big Fundamental continues to get the job done with 19.2 and 11.6 a night. Yawn. He's boring, but he belongs here every season.
SF Carmelo Anthony - Denver - Melo is the closest thing the West has to LeBron. 25.5 points, 7.1 boards, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per night.
SG Kobe Bryant - LA Lakers - We knew Kobe was going to have to carry this team, but after the loss of Andrew Bynum and no big name offseason acquisitions, did anyone expect the Lakers to be 30-16 at this point?
PG Chris Paul - New Orleans*# - If the season ended today, CP3 would have a mighty strong case for the MVP. The Hornets lost only twice in the month of January and currently lead the NBA's toughest division, which includes the defending champion Spurs, the Mavs and the the Rockets. Paul is the biggest reason why with his 20.7 points and ridiculous 10.9 assists per game. Coming into the season would anyone have predicted the Southwest crown might go to a team not from the state of Texas? Paul bumps AI down to the reserves where he belongs.

Al Jefferson - Minnesota# - Sure he plays on the second-worst team in the league but how can you not give this guy a little love. He got dumped by the Celts in what many considered to be an insanely one-sided trade and all he's done is put up numbers. With 21.3 points, 12.2 boards and five 30+ scoring efforts, Jefferson gets the slight edge over Utah's Carlos Boozer (22, 10.6). His team is awful but this guy is having a phenomenal year. The Clips' Chris Kaman could also fit in here as a worthy player on a horrible team.
F Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas - 22.3, 8.7, 3.8 and he's even playing a little defense. Teammate Josh Howard (20.7, 7.5, 2.1) is just as deserving but Dirk has the star power and this is the All-Star game.
F David West - New Orleans# - His 19.4 points, 9.2 boards, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks per game are all career highs. Another huge reason the Hornets are shocking teams this season and a major contributor on the Tar Heel's second-place fantasy team.
F/C Amare Stoudamire - Phoenix - 22.6, 9.0, 59.4 percent shooting (yeah, they're mostly dunks). Fully recovered from the surgeries and simply impossible to defend on the inside.
G Brandon Roy - Portland# - 19.3 points, 4.6 boards, 5.7 assists for this super soph. Talk about surprises. The Trailblazers (27-19) are shaking things up without Greg Oden and Roy is a major reason why.
G Baron Davis - Golden State - There are just too many good players in this conference. Allen Iverson is having the most efficient season of his career (27 points, 45 percent shooting, +23.41 efficiency rating) and Deron Williams is also worthy (18.8 points, 2.75 assists/turnover ratio) but I'll give this spot to the best player on the most fun team to watch play. Among point guards, Davis ranks first in scoring (21.9), second in rebounding (4.8) and seventh in assists (8.1) with a 3.0 asst/to ratio. Any of these guys could start in the East, but unfortunately, only a few can make this roster.
G Steve Nash - Phoenix - 17.4 points, 3.5 boards, 11.8 assists, 2.2 3-pointers per game. Just another stellar season for the former MVP from Canada.

Just missed: Josh Howard (F, Dallas), Deron Williams (PG, Utah), Allen Iverson (PG, Denver), Marcus Camby (F/C, Denver)

-- The Tar Heel

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