Derrick Rose, All-Star starter (Getty Images)On Thursday night, the NBA announced the All-Star starters, culled from fan votes spread out over a season that has only been playing live basketball for 39 days. Yikes.
So you know there are bound to be some misses, as the fans take to the ballot both online and off. Did the fans make the right call as to who they're sending to the scorer's to start the game on Feb. 26? Or is it time to hand the vote to Larry Brown and a whole bunch of other basketballniks who know who Cliff Hagan is?
Let's find out, after the jump. And the Western takes can be found here.
Howard started slow and his production has dipped slightly as his Orlando Magic have fallen off the face of the earth over the last week and a half. But even while taking off some plays, he remains dominant overall defensively -- that's how great Howard was when he was engaged; this is his version of mailing it in and he's still causing havoc -- and his 20-point, 15-rebound averages are more than deserving of an All-Star nod.
Competitors Joakim Noah started even slower than Howard while Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut and Al Horford have been out due to injury. Tyson Chandler has enjoyed a fine season, but he just isn't in Howard's company.
James, without question, has been far and away the best player in basketball this season. Not amongst a group of three or four greats, mind you, but the best in the NBA by a wide margin. He's having a career year, which is saying something both because of his staggering regular-season accomplishments in years prior, but also because of the draining nature of this truncated season.
Anthony is not having his best season -- far from it -- and the lure of a big-name scorer with New York recognition was too much for the fans to pass on. Miami's Chris Bosh, averaging 20 points (on a much better shooting percentage) and eight rebounds, would have been the better choice here. And we're saying that without attempting to make a distinction between the two forward slots.
Wade has played only 13 games this season while dealing with his usual brand of lower extremity maladies, but he's so much better than the rest of the shooting guards in the East -- what happened to this position out East? -- that you have to give him the nod here in spite of missing nine of his team's 22 games. Or instead of picking another point guard like New Jersey's Deron Williams or Boston's Rajon Rondo.
Even as his toe pains him with every step, much less each stop on a dime and bound to the rim through a series of defenders, Derrick Rose has gotten even better in his fourth NBA season. The Bulls guard is averaging 23 points and 7.7 assists for the East's best team.
Three things of note …
1. Dwight Howard, jumping center, in Orlando.
By all accounts, he'll still be with the Magic by the time the All-Star game tips off on Feb. 26. And Magic fans, mindful of the nationally televised audience and their own team's dodgy future, will no doubt give Howard the biggest standing ovation he's ever heard as he's introduced. That's how fans work. They'll save the boos and hisses for when Howard eventually leaves the team this summer.
And he will leave this team. Which will make the ovation -- as a recruiting tool -- a needless exercise. Sad.
2. Miami, getting reps.
It's hard to believe that after 104 regular-season games spread out over two seasons and a trip to the sixth game of the Finals last year that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James still have work to do in order to develop a chemistry worth their collective talent, but every minute of practice counts with these three. If the East isn't coached by Erik Spoelstra this year, the coach would be wise to sub in Bosh while taking James and Wade out.
You don't want The Big Click to happen under your watch, coach.
3. No Lob City.
Derrick Rose isn't a selfish player, but he's not a natural playmaker and passer in the mold of a Chris Paul or Steve Nash. What he can do is score, score, score, not unlike all the other players in this starting five.
The West? They'll be easier on the eyes, attempting alley-oops left and right and trying to entertain. This is what we tune in for, sure, but any watch of the most recent All-Star games reminds you that this is no recipe for success. While the West is throwing half-courters for attempted dunks gone wrong, the East's perimeter-oriented core of Rose, James, Wade and Anthony will be grabbing long rebounds and going coast-to-coast for scores.
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