February 09, 2004

Sam-I-Am or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Game.: lilnemo's take on the 2004 NBA All Stars.

Conventional wisdom would have me examine the All Star selections by conference. But what's convention really? I'll start off with the fan selections and comment on why it sucks (which you already know), and then move on to the coaches selections.

The Fan Ballot.

In any sport that relies on fan balloting to select its all-star team you are bound to find some discrepancies between the fan's opinion, and the obvious or "correct" selections. We SpoFites have already discussed the merits of Vince Carter's All Star selection as a fairly tame example of such analysis and comparison. You'll hear alot of jugheads on your local sports talk station begging for someone to decry the state of the All Star game. Actually it's in pretty good hands. At face, it appears we have become too in love with the candidates that we feel are deserving of the honor versus those whom are "merely popular". I'm going to rail off both sets of All Star squads starters whose members I believe have done the most for their team.
CBen WallaceShaquille O'Neal
PFJermaine O'NealTim Duncan
SFRon ArtestKevin Garnett
SGLeBron JamesKobe Bryant
PGBaron DavisSam Cassell
In the instances where the I agreed with the fans you'll find less commentary. Deal with it. Starting with the Center position: I'm not about to apologize for placing Shaq in the starting line-up. How he has played this long and only won a single MVP award is beyond me. If he wasn't constantly injured, overweight, out-of-shape, or just plain cross-eyed we wouldn't be having this discussion. That said, he's still the most dominant force in the league, get a good look folks. Like the great brontosaurus, he won't be around much longer. As for Ben Wallace, in the Eastern Conference the line for quality big men starts and ends with him. 'Nuff said. As for the Power forwards... Unless someone takes a severe detour on the Indy 500 into Canseco Fieldhouse during a Pacers/Spurs matchup, I think it's pretty safe to say these guys will be cemented in these slots for at least the next 3 years. Small Forwards, there's a contrast, eh? I won't even bother discussing KG, so on to Artest vs. Carter. Of all the potential Vince Carter replacement candidates we discussed, the ommission of Ron Artest was the most shocking. I know that we were thinking of players that weren't selected "period", but again, starting the All Star game is an award that should be "earned". At least in this column it is. Carter averages 3 ppg more than Artest and shoots 3 pointers at a better clip (take that as you will). But Artest is a superior all around player. You don't see many of Carter's opponents putting up 4-12 nights do ya? You have to like a player who says at the beginning of the year that he wants to push the limit this season, that he wants to try and expend as much energy as possible on the floor. But he's crazy. So the fans have him coming off the bench. I know, I know, I can hear you already Scott, Vince has the burden of the entire Raptors offense resting on his shoulders. I see that, I acknowledge it. But you have to admit that the Pacers Defense is anchored by Artest, which is an anomally. Most, if not all NBA defenses are anchored by a big man, ususally the PF who plays to defend the post, and helps in the paint. In watching the Pacers defensive rotations you begin to see that Carlisle has Artest everywhere. It's insane!! I'm not even a Pacers fan!! Of all people, it took Bill Walton ( I can't believe I'm saying this out loud ) to convince me of Artest's defensive prowess. Earlier in the year, when the Pacers were on their Texas road trip ESPN was showing the Pacers/Mavs game. Either in the second or the third (the score was tight and contested throughout) Steve Nash picked Tinsley (I believe) and had only Artest to beat. Artest not only beat him to the spot, he diverted him away from his strong hand, while backpedaling, didn't plant his feet, and allowed Nash to lob up an off-balance lay-up from the space he had vacated. Like magic. Simply an unbelievably unreal defensive play. Most guys plant and gamble on the charge, or go ahead and concede the foul. Artest lead Nash like a Matador. Shooting Guards, they do more than shoot right? Tracy McGrady not starting the All Star game? Heresy right? Tracy is scoring at a better clip than LeBron, but his team is 7 games behind the Cavs. Hell the Cavs have a winning record at home! And because it's the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are only 3.5 games out of the playoffs. Mathematically they're still in it. Orlando is 10.5 games out with no end in sight. I like T-Macs game, but I'm getting a decidedly "A-Rod at midseason saying he'd be okay if he we're traded if it made the team better"-type vibe from him this year. I'm beginning to feel he's not as inspired as he was in 2000, or 2001 for that matter. I'm beginning to feel that he might have cashed Coach Rivers check. As for Kobe; well, Magic got a farewell spot didn't he? Point Guard is the same as Lead Guard. Allen Iverson not starting the All Star game? This isn't heresy anymore, it's just stupid. But seriously, Baron Davis deserves to start. Although they reside in 5th place, Baron has the Hornets playing some pretty inspired ball (at least in the first half of the season). And he's done it without Mashburn, or Alexander, all the while with Tim Floyd at the helm in a new city. Iverson is having another typical season. He'll flirt with the scoring title, and provide good defense. But he might end up buying Randy Ayers a bus ticket out of town before the 76ers get a chance to lose in the first round. As for selecting Cassell over Francis, I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, when you have a post presence capable of 20-10 you need to get him to touch the ball on every possession. Not once every 4-5 possessions. Besides, Sam's having a good year, and is being a good citizen (for now).

…. And The Rest….

Here are the reserves for my All Star Squad. No commentary. I'll let you haggle in the comments.
GAllen IversonSteve Nash
GJason KiddRay Allen
FCarlos Boozer Andrei Kirilenko
F Kenyon Martin Dirk Nowitzki
CKurt ThomasYao Ming
*Paul PiercePredrag Stojakovic
*Michael ReddBrad Miller

posted by lilnemo to commentary at 08:40 PM - 0 comments

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