Did the voters get the Eastern Conference All-Star starters right?
Starters for the 2015 All-Star game were announced on Thursday and not surprisingly the release sparked a series of debates on whether the voters got it right, who will fill out the remaining rosters as reserves and which players are potential snubs.
We will take a closer look at the Eastern Conference this morning and Basketball Insiders senior writer Joel Brigham will dive head first into the Western Conference later in the afternoon.
So we’ll break this down into three sections:
– Did the voters get the starters right?
– Who should get the remaining roster spots for the East
– Who are the likely snubs for the Eastern Conference
Did the fans get the All-Star voting right for the East?
Starting for the Eastern Conference team will be John Wall (Washington Wizards), Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks) and Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls).
The first thing that jumps off the page is the fact that no Atlanta Hawks received enough votes to warrant a spot in the starting lineup despite owning the best record in the conference. Hawks forward Paul Millsap finished 10th in frontcourt voting, while center Al Horford finished 11th. In the backcourt, Hawks point guard Jeff Teague finished eighth.
Wall was a no brainer as the floor general since his numbers are great and he has the Wizards primed for another playoff berth. The biggest surprise came as a late surge boosted Lowry into the starting lineup over perennial starter Dwyane Wade. In terms of impact and overall consistency, Lowry has outperformed Wade this season.
In the frontcourt it will take an act of congress to get James, a four-time MVP, out of the starting lineup. The veteran forward switched area codes last summer but has put together a solid individual campaign in Cleveland up until this point.
The biggest question mark when it comes to Eastern starters is the selection of Anthony. The forward has missed time due to a nagging knee injury and the Knicks own the worst record in the entire league. The appeal of Anthony to fans is clear as he is one of the league’s most feared scorers and in a game with little defense he figures to bring excitement.
Rounding out the starters for the East is Gasol, who has re-energized his career in Chicago after being the subject of constant trade rumors the past two seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Solid choice here.
Overall, the fans made the right decisions for starters in the East with the Anthony nod being up for debate.
Who should get the remaining roster spots for the East?
Routinely this is where the strongest arguments take place each year as plenty of guys can make an All-Star case after strong starts to the campaign. Let’s take a look at the guys vying for a spot in the rotation.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Listen, if you had any doubts Butler had the goods before the season started he has likely silenced even his harshest critics. The guard is averaging 20.6 points, 6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game and has emerged as a vital piece in Chicago’s championship hopes in 2015.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Millsap is one of the main reasons the Hawks are currently running roughshod throughout the league. The veteran forward is averaging 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game on the season. His numbers are slightly down from last season, where he made his first All-Star appearance, but a lot of that has to do with Al Horford returning healthy in Atlanta’s frontcourt.
Chris Bosh, Miami HEAT
Bosh has been a man on a mission as he seeks to keep Miami afloat in the first season without LeBron James and the veteran has delivered. Bosh is averaging 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds on the campaign and is definitely deserving of his 10th All-Star selection.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Horford is a two-time All-Star who would have more appearances if his seasons weren’t cut short in two of the past three years. Horford has been named Eastern Conference player of the week twice this season and is averaging 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. The numbers aren’t the most gaudy but he is a key contributor on a Hawks team on pace for 60 victories.
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Both Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade offer more eye popping statistics but those guys also have their own drawbacks. Irving has been criticized this season for part of Cleveland’s struggles and Wade has missed extended time due to various injuries. This makes Teague a clear choice for one of the final reserve roster spots. The guard is averaging a career high in points (17.2), assists (7.4) and rebounds (2.7) this season and we must note – the Hawks are rolling headed into the break with him as floor general.
Dwyane Wade, Miami HEAT
Father Time has undoubtedly slowed Wade down the past few years, but the veteran is still averaging 21.8 points, 5.5 assists and four rebounds per night on the season. Most guys dream of putting up that production and Wade is doing it while battling injuries, age and decreased nightly minutes. The end of Wade’s All-Star appearances is soon coming, but this isn’t the year.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Admittedly this is an outside the box choice as the coaches rarely go with younger guys as reserves, especially young guys on losing teams. But Vucevic has been an absolute man on the low block all season for Orlando averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds in a stellar breakout campaign up until this point.
Who are the likely All-Star snubs for the Eastern Conference?
The snub list is always debatable and up for discussion. These guys have put together very respectable seasons early on, but may be watching the All-Star festivities from afar.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Love has put up strong numbers, but for an up and down Cavaliers team, the production hasn’t been consistent enough and the forward has readily admitted he has struggled adapting to his new role.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
The same argument applied to Love can easily be adopted to fit Irving. No doubt one of the better players in the league, but the guard has struggled to find consistency this season and Butler, Teague and Wade have just been better at the guard position early on.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
One Eastern Conference assistant coach recently told Basketball Insiders that Korver was the most feared 13-point-per-game scorer in the league. No question Korver makes the Hawks’ offense potent on the perimeter, but it’s hard to give him the nod over teammates Horford, Millsap and Teague – even though he’s having a historically great season shooting the ball.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
After a slow start to the season, Drummond has hit his stride since mid-December. But even with the uptick in production, Drummond will likely have to wait until next season to snatch a frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
Only in the social media world, where every move is heavily scrutinized (and criticized), will a player coming back after two devastating knee injuries putting up 18 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists be considered a disappointment. Rose missed nearly two years of court time and is back to working cats on a nightly basis. But his All-Star return will have to wait another season.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Walker has hit numerous clutch shots this season and is rapidly gaining mainstream respect – and rightfully so. The guard is averaging 19 points, 5.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds on the season. Walker has played admirably while center Al Jefferson has been hobbled, but the Hornets’ slow start didn’t doesn’t do him any favors when discussing All-Star worthiness.
Make sure to checkout the NBA PM today for a breakdown of the Western Conference All-Star team!
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