Originally Published: Jan 18, 2011 10:45 AM CDT
My producer, T.J. Perry, and I spent a couple of hours this morning on my radio show ("T-Row in the Morning Show" on SportsTalk 1400) trying to figure out who will make the Western Conference All-Star Team. It seemed like an easy discussion until we got into it. Obviously people around here are interested in seeing Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin in the game. Both are seemingly deserving, but what do the numbers say when you break it down?
First, here are some nuggets to know. The coach of the team with the best record in the West as of the 2nd week in February will be the head coach of the Western Conference All-Star Team. This is important because it will likely be Gregg Popovich and he may take his guy Tim Duncan as a reserve who might not necessarily be deserving according to the numbers. Also of note, if a player is chosen as a starter but hes injured, Commissioner David Stern gets to select his replacement. (Back to that in a moment.)
It looks like these 5 guys will be the starters in the West: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Yao Ming. (Well assume that Melo stays and Nugget, but it is entirely possible that hes a Net or Knick by the All-Star Game which would open up another roster spot in the West.)
Here are the contenders for the seven reserve spots in the West: Lamarcus Aldridge (21 pts, 9 rbs), Steve Nash (18 pts, 11 asts), Zach Randolph (20 pts, 13 rbs), Eric Gordon (24 pts), Monta Ellis (27 pts), Manu Ginobili (19 pts, 5 rbs), Pau Gasol (18 pts, 11 rbs), Dirk Nowitzki (24 pts, 7 rbs), Tim Duncan (14 pts, 10 rbs), Deron Williams (22 pts, 9 asts), Russell Westbrook (22 pts, 8 asts), Blake Griffin (23 pts, 13 rbs), Kevin Love (21 pts, 16 rbs), Nene (15 pts, 8 rbs).
I think the givens are Ginobili, Nowitzki and Gasol. All having incredible years and all "All-Stars." I think Popovich will also take his guy Duncan. His numbers arent there, but "hes Tim Duncan." That leaves three reserve spots to fill. (Tough isnt it?)
Im going to say the most "deserving" players are Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Im giving Williams and Westbrook the nod over Steve Nash because theyre having better seasons and their teams are having better seasons. Whether Popovich leaves Nash off the team, however, will be a controversial call. And I think you just cant ignore Kevin Loves numbers...even though his team stinks.
That leaves one unresolved issue. Who replaces Yao Ming as the starter in the middle? Last year when Kobe Bryant was injured David Stern went with the home town hero in Dallas...Jason Kidd. I think hell do the same again this year. I think hell name Blake Griffin as Mings replacement. It would be a popular pick, and hes certainly deserving. It would then be up to Popovich as to whether he actually put Griffin in the starting lineup or went with Duncan or Gasol.
Tobys predicted Western Conference All-Stars: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.