Now that the NBA is halfway to All-Star weekend, and that the voting has officially opened, we make our predictions on who we think will make the cut
Can you believe we’ve already completed a quarter of the season? Wasn’t it just yesterday that Stephen Curry kicked off the season by dropping 24 in the first quarter…or was that yesterday?
We’ve reached a point in the season where potential NBA All-Stars have proven their worth. With the league opening up All-Star voting on Thursday, let’s take a look at who should make the trip to Toronto on Valentine’s Day weekend.
(Quick tangent: I’ve always thought All-Star Weekend was David Stern’s ploy to break up marriages. How am I supposed to take out my wife for Valentine’s dinner when the Slam Dunk competition is running at the same time??)
In constructing these predictions, please keep in mind that I used the same formula that will be used in February – starters voted in and reserves picked by coaches. So, the starters don’t necessarily reflect the best at each conference’s positions (*cough* *Kobe*), but a prediction on who the voters will choose. I also put greater weight on teams that currently playoff-bound. If stats/value are fairly similar, it only made sense to see which team is performing better.
G – Kyle Lowry: He was voted in last season and ranks 1st among all East players in Win Shares, VORP, and PER. Oh, and game takes place in Toronto.
G – Dwyane Wade: You could make the case that Jimmy Butler deserves this spot. Across the board, their stats are fairly similar – Wade is higher in PER and Offensive Rating, while Butler has a better VORP and Defensive Rating. Miami and Chicago have similar records. Wade received over 330,000 more votes than Butler last season. Butler has not made enough of a leap this season to steal extra votes from Wade and, to a lesser extent, avid fans of his backcourt running mate (and former NBA MVP),Derrick Rose.
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F – LeBron James: Does anyone else get the feeling that we’re only seeing 75% of James so far? He’s on the wrong side of 30 and expected to end his hometown’s 40+ year championship drought. Expect him to continue to roll at cruise control, while occasionally showing super-human James in marquee matchups (Merry Christmas Golden State!).
F – Paul George – Is he the East MVP? Yes! If not for the alien playing in the Bay Area, George would be THE feel-good story of the season that every media outlet would be discussing ad nauseum. That he’s played at a level even better than before his gruesome lower leg injury is a borderline miracle.
F – Carmelo Anthony: Voters gonna vote! I don’t agree with this, but he’s a staple when it comes to All-Star voting. Similar to Butler/Wade, Melo has played decent enough while none of his fellow East Forwards have made enough of an impact to steal his spot.
G – Jimmy Butler: He deserves to start. Hopefully his inclusion on the All-Star squad, combined with Rose’s exclusion, will be the eye-opener that Rose needs – Chicago is Butler’s team now!
G – Kemba Walker: This may be a little harder to defend than others, but bear with me. Charlotte currently sits in the 2nd spot behind Cleveland, so they deserve to have an All-Star. The Hornets have gotten a boost from Nic Batum and Marvin Williams, but it’s Walker who captains this ship. For the stat heads, he’s 6th among East players in VORP and BPM.
G – Isaiah Thomas: Yet another that may take some convincing. If the season ended today, Boston would be in the playoffs. The biggest reason is due to their littlest player. One of only six players in the top 20 in PER, points, and assists per game.
F – Paul Millsap: Speaking of VORP and BPM, Millsap ranks 4th among all East players. His breakout season has helped lighten the blow of losing Demarre Carroll, and weather the storm of early injuries to Jeff Teague andKent Bazemore.
F – Kevin Love – After a down year of getting used to playing on a contender, Love’s numbers this season have quietly crept back up to his all-star worthy career figures. Averaging 18 points and 11 boards, Love is one of only nine players with double-digits in both categories. His 2.3 threes per game are more than the other eight players combined!
F – Andre Drummond – Last time anyone averaged 17+ rebounds per game: 1993-94,Dennis Rodman. Drummond ranks 1st in rebounds, rebound %, defensive rebound %, and 2nd in offensive rebound %. Boards aside, he’s also an excellent defender, ranking 1st in defensive win shares – yes, higher than the almighty Kawhi!
F – Hassan Whiteside – Bosh’s scoring and FG% have taken a dip this year, but everything else is around career averages. Same can be said about Wade. The Heat, however, are in the thick of the playoff race after missing altogether last year. So what’s changed in South Beach? Whiteside has tore up the league so far. He’s running away with the Blocks title, averaging 4.4 (to Anthony Davis‘ 2.7!), and leads the NBA in Defensive Rating. To boot, he’s in the top 10 in rebounds per game, FG%, TS%, eFG%, and defensive BPM.
Snubs: Chris Bosh, Al Horford, John Wall, Bradley Beal
The biggest snub is easily Wall. He’s top 4 in both assists and steals per game. If he doesn’t get voted in, then it’s possible coaches may exclude him altogether. Not only do the stats favour Kemba and Isaiah more than Wall, but their respective teams are outperforming, while the Wizards are underachieving. There’s a lot of ball still to be played, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wall turn things around to sneak into his 3rd consecutive All-Star game.
G – Stephen Curry: He’s been alright, I guess.
G – Russell Westbrook: Kobe Domino Effect #1. Bryant’s move from guard to forward on the ballot opens up a spot for Russ. He’s on pace to post the 8th-best PER in league history. Well, 9th, if we assume Curry finishes anywhere near the astronomical levels he’s currently at.
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F – Kobe Bryant: Voters gonna vote, part 2! He has the worst Win Shares – negative(!) 1.1 – on the conference’s worst team. But this has nothing to do with stats and everything to do with paying homage to one of the NBA’s all-time greats.
F – Anthony Davis: Last year’s leading vote-getter among West voters will have no problems nabbing his 3rd consecutive All-Star spot.
F – Kevin Durant: Kobe Domino Effect #2. What if KD loses some votes to Kobe (now a Forward), Griffin (allure of the dunk), and Westbrook (the more deserving player from OKC?)? Regardless, Durant’s making the squad.