January 25, 2010
OK, NBA. I'll play by your rules.
You needlessly force us to make categorical designations regarding the players on the All-Star ballot, the All-Star starting lineup and with the All-Star reserves. I'm sick of it, you've won, and I'll try to make my point spoken through my own quarter-inch cable, but run through your particular brand of amplification. I will list my All-Star reserves as you request. Two guards, two forwards, one center and two wild cards.
I'll get you back, NBA. Might even write a strongly worded letter. But first? My picks for the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves.
I don't know how I'm going to live with myself picking Johnson over Andre Iguodala(notes), but A.I. has fallen off a bit in terms of help defense, to these eyes. And while Johnson has cost the Hawks some games this season with his one-on-one play, apparently (see intro) I'm just a sucker for orthodoxy. For giving in. For playing by the NBA's rules. I won't take it as far as selecting, say, Derrick Rose(notes) and Mo Williams(notes) or some such nonsense, but I will give Joe the slight edge. Even though he's not as good.
Rondo's "as good." Rondo should be starting.
Bosh should be starting. The man has been fantastic this season.
Wallace? The key to Charlotte's top-ranked defense, an all-around terror offensively, and a reminder that being very, very good at several things will always help a team more than being excellent at one thing. A rather crummy reminder, if I'm honest, because Wallace is excellent at quite a few things.
Those without League Pass needn't comment. Of all the reasons the New Jersey Nets are 3-40, Brook Lopez is reason number 4,182. Of the several reasons the Nets aren't being blown out by 73 points per night, Brook Lopez is first.
This is a team game, though, and an individual accomplishment. And while others certainly merit consideration and my appreciation, no pivot has been better than Lopez. In the East. Excluding Dwight Howard(notes).
These men punish teams, on the inside. Absolutely punish teams. Atlanta's perimeter defense is so, so lousy, and yet the team is able to stay amongst the ranks of the above-average due to Horford's moving feet, and Smith's stifling blocks and boards. On top of that, they score without much hassle.
I honestly feel absolutely terrible about these two. Let there be no mistake -- David Lee and Paul Pierce are having All-Star seasons. They are All-Stars. They are wholly deserving of the All-Star nod. And if you want to replace Horford with David Lee, I can't blame you. I just slightly prefer Horford's defensive presence to Lee's offensive brilliance.