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Kelly Dwyer

The should-be Western starters in the All-Star game

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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It's a good thing that you got to vote in the All-Star game starters.

It's good to have a piece, however tenuous, of the game you love. A connection to something real. A voice, in what counts.

It's just that ... some of you don't have League Pass.

And some of you haven't wasted your lives moving through stats and archived games and all manner of influence that might tell you that the most popular player at the position you're considering might not be the best choice.

Who were the best choices for next month's All-Star game? Gee, really? Well, thanks for asking.

In the American tradition, I didn't vote, but I sure can complain. Onto the West ...


Fans picked: Yao Ming(notes), Houston Rockets

They should have picked: Nene, Denver Nuggets

They shouldn't have had to pick Nene.

Or Tim Duncan(notes), were he listed as a center. Or Tyson Chandler(notes). All three are All-Star worthy, but this is a bogus selection at a bogus position that was shoe-horned down the fans' throats for no good reason. And, hopefully, this is the last year of an All-Star ballot that reads "guards, forwards, and centers" instead of "come on, you're smart, pick five good ones."

Nene has had a terrific year, but I don't think he should make the team even as a reserve. And yet he's had the best year of any center in his conference. This says less about the West, and more about the ridiculousness of the stringent position-based voting process. Hopefully David Stern does right in handing Pau Gasol(notes) the starting nod next month, even if he was listed as a forward on the All-Star ballot.

Wait, that means ...

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Fans picked: Carmelo Anthony(notes), Denver Nuggets; Kevin Durant(notes), Oklahoma City Thunder

They should have picked: Kevin Love(notes), Minnesota Timberwolves; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

This is clearly the busiest order of the whole mess, and while Anthony has had a good enough year, there's no way he's had a more impactful year than Love, Blake Griffin(notes), Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Zach Randolph(notes) or Lamar Odom(notes). Odom's minutes might be lower than Carmelo's, and his per-minute production about the same, but I'd much prefer his help defense this season than Anthony's.

Love's the guy, though; 21.6 points and 15.7 rebounds? Shooting 45 percent from long range? This guy isn't just an All-Star. He's a candidate for the All NBA-Team.

Listen, there are always four or five beyond-terrible teams in an NBA seasons, squads that you watch and wonder how they'll ever make it to 10 wins. And yet, these squads never seem to produce players averaging 37 combined points and rebounds. If it were all about, "he's on a terrible team, that's why he puts up such great numbers," then why haven't we seen numbers like this in 30 years of terrible teams? Seems to me these terrible teams have had about 150 chances, in that time.

Also, Kevin Durant is the absolute business.

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Fans picked: Chris Paul(notes), New Orleans Hornets; Kobe Bryant(notes), Los Angeles Lakers

They should have picked: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets, Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Both selections are spot on. Paul is the best point guard this league has to offer. And it's not just that Kobe's the best shooting guard out West, he's the second-best guard in the conference. This isn't me choosing by position.

What worries here is the guard play left to the NBA's assistant coaches. Because Russell Westbrook(notes), Manu Ginobili(notes), Steve Nash(notes) and Deron Williams(notes) have been just as good as both Paul and Kobe.

And Tony Parker(notes) hasn't been. Same with Monta Ellis(notes).

Sorry, but there's a clear step in between the lot listed above, and the two players listed below them. Once you factor in pace, and efficiency, and work on the other side of the ball (that, apologies for pointing out, is one-half the game of basketball), Parker and Ellis just don't hold up. And yet, there's a groundswell.

Mainly because Ellis has been fantastic this season, keeping his team in games, and deserving of an All-Star nod in just about any other year. And Parker has been better, even if the per-game stats don't show it, on the league's best team.

But there are four guards who have been better. Hopefully the assistant coaches do the research necessary to seek this out, instead of dodging their responsibilities.

Stop laughing.

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