Ball Don't Lie - NBA



On Tuesday at 3 p.m., the NBA's (assistant) coaches were asked to turn in their ballots featuring their choices for the reserves for this month's NBA All-Star Game. And, in the grand tradition of selecting Wally Szczerbiak(notes) (because the Timberwolves are good!) and Jamaal Magliore (because you gotta have a backup center!), we're about to see this thing go terribly wrong. At least, that's what we assume.

So, before the news hits on Thursday night, as the TNT crew reveals the reserves, we're going to offer up our choices as to who should make this year's All-Star team, beyond the players that were voted in by fans who don't appear to be paying much attention (Yao Ming(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes)? Seriously?).

We bring this noise at the NBA's behest. The league asks its coaches to submit choices for a reserve center, two forwards, two guards and two "wild cards." This is pretty daft, because it forces All-Star teams to boast depth at positions that really aren't rife with All-Star players. But because these are the rules, hopefully for the last time, we'll follow them.

Click the jump, for a look at the East.

CENTER

Al Horford(notes), Atlanta Hawks

Every spring, as the NBA squares its playoff bracket, you'll hear a small group of fans wondering aloud as to the feasibility of the league restructuring its playoff format so as to seed teams 1-16, rather than 1-8 in either conference. The idea is nice, but it isn't feasible, because running a seven-game series between teams in Phoenix and New Jersey wouldn't be the smartest move for this league's first round.

But with someone like Horford? You can understand why you might consider rerouting roster spots for the best 24 players in the NBA, regardless of conference (and, hopefully next year, position). Because this guy is having a monster year, and he'll have to watch as the West fields (again, hopefully, as we're dying for David Stern to pick a non-pivot to replace Yao Ming) zero centers later this month.

Sixteen points and 10 rebounds in just 35 minutes for Horford, who is shooting 57 percent from the field. Most significantly, Horford is making nearly 3-of-5 shots on average while taking about 3-of-5 shots on average from midrange, as his jumpers continue to fall at an astounding rate. One block and just 1.5 turnovers a game (to 3.5 assists, too) for Horford -- on top of his already surefire defense.

FORWARDS

Paul Pierce(notes) and Kevin Garnett(notes), Boston Celtics

We can all agree that Garnett is, at best, annoying and, at worst, cheap and disrespectful, but holy lord can that guy affect a game defensively. As I've stated a few times in these pages, were Garnett's total minutes on par with Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), I'd probably give him the nod over the white-hot Knick big man for the starting forward slot. Garnett's combination of offense and defense slightly tops Stoudemire's work in those two areas.

Pierce, 13 years after being drafted into this league, is possibly having his best season. In fact, the only thing that is keeping his Player Efficiency Rating a step below his levels from his peaks in years past is his lowered Usage Rate -- but he should have a lowered usage rate, considering Boston's offense in 2011 compared to 2006. Nineteen points per game, 51 percent shooting overall and 42 percent from the field for Paul.

Also, because we want to see some seven-game classics this spring, kindly add both Pierce and K.G. to the game, and play them a total of 42 seconds, Doc Rivers. Keep those legs fresh.

GUARDS

Rajon Rondo(notes) and Ray Allen(notes), Boston Celtics

God, how annoying.

I'm with you. The idea behind a great team getting "representation" at the All-Star game is moronic. You're not supposed to be rewarded with All-Star berths for being a great team. You're supposed to be rewarded with great seeding and home-court advantage in the playoffs, and a chance at the championship. That's the reward. Not some individual honors in a February game that everyone forgets a week later.

But Allen and Rondo have been the two best guards in the East beyond Dwyane Wade(notes) and Derrick Rose(notes).

It's not clear-cut with Allen. Joe Johnson(notes), though we all agree he's been massively overrated at this point, has been better per-minute, but he barely missed my cut because he missed a few hundred possible minutes in December with a wrist injury. Andre Iguodala(notes) has actually been as worthy, but he's been injured. Devin Harris'(notes) 31.8-minutes-per-game average has me leaving him out, though I agree that it's not Harris' fault Avery Johnson still treats him like a rookie. Seriously, Devin Harris playing 31.8 minutes per game is a joke, and he's certainly as worthy as Johnson or Allen here.

Rondo's a step above all of these gents, despite his miserable free-throw shooting.


WILD CARDS

Carlos Boozer(notes), Chicago Bulls, and Chris Bosh(notes), Miami Heat

When you go all Charlie Kelly (NSFW) with it, you're bound to get a little angry at this All-Star setup. Not only are Boozer and Bosh more deserving of an All-Star nod than Ray Allen, so too are Josh Smith(notes) and (don't laugh) Elton Brand(notes). Brand might whiff of a millstone to you, but he's also averaging 15 points and 8.5 rebounds, making more than half his shots with 2.6 combined blocks/steals for a team in the playoff bracket.

And though his offense has been awful this year -- a True Shooting Percentage of 49? for a center? -- I'm not sure I've seen a player with as strong a defensive impact as Andrew Bogut(notes) this season. And I'm well aware that Dwight Howard(notes) has played basketball this season.

But Boozer and Bosh are it. Carlos has played in only 29 games, but come on: 20 and 10. Play 42 minutes a night or 32 (as he does, sadly), and it doesn't matter. Twenty and 10.

Bosh is averaging 18.5 points and eight boards a night. Nobody likes him, but it's getting a little old. Bosh has had a fantastic run following that slow start.

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