By Johnny Ludden, Yahoo! Sports
January 31, 2008
I feel for the West coaches. I really do. Picking seven All-Star reserves from this season's talented crop was a thankless task. My job? That's considerably easier. I get to second-guess their selections.
No Baron Davis?
I know. This is justice. Davis quit on the Hornets three seasons ago. He wanted out of New Orleans, he got his wish and now they're not letting him come back for the All-Star game.
Even more poetic: the player who possibly knocked Davis from the roster? Hard-working Hornets forward David West.
Somewhere, Byron Scott is laughing.
Still, if being a past malcontent tarnishes one's All-Star credentials then why is Jason Kidd starting? And Allen Iverson? Davis quit on his teammates three years ago. Kidd did the same last month.
Based on his performance this season, Davis deserves to go. So does Brandon Roy, of course, but for pure entertainment value, I'll take the Bearded One chucking one-legged three-pointers any day.
Here then is the All-Snubbed team. It has a decidedly West bias, as it should. If there truly was justice, the "Leastern" Conference would have to give up one of its reserve slots.
G – Baron Davis: He's averaging 22.3 points, the second-most of his career, and 8.1 assists. On Wednesday, he helped lead the Warriors past the Hornets. Unfortunately for Davis, the coaches' votes had already been counted. Honorable mention – Deron Williams: In spite of Paul's vast improvement, there are more than a few GMs who would prefer to have this guy directing their offense.
G – Manu Ginobili: Spurs are slumping, but that's no fault of his. Even with his shooting hand dinged up for the past month, he's averaging a career-high 19.5 points, a three-point hike from his previous best, while clocking under 30 minutes a night. He's the engine that revs the defending champions. Honorable mention – Tony Parker has the numbers, but also a bad left heel, so he wouldn't play anyway. Jose Calderon gets the call here for keeping the Raptors running during T.J. Ford's absence.
F – Hedo Turkoglu: His 19.5 points per game is an increase of more than six from last season. He's hit big shot after big shot (just ask the Celtics), he often initiates the Magic offense, he's taking more than six rebounds per game and he has the same name for every person he's ever met: “Buddy.” What more can you ask? Honorable mention – Stephen Jackson: Warriors are 27-13 since his return, which is why some people consider him, not Davis, the team's MVP.
F – Josh Howard: There's a reason why the Mavericks have refused to part with him in any trade. He can score inside and out, he's tough on the boards and though his defense is a bit overrated, his motor rarely slows. Dirk Nowitzki is still Dallas' best player, but Howard is gaining. Honorable mention – Al Jefferson: He's averaging 21.2 points and 12.2 rebounds. Even on a bad team that's good.
C – Chris Kaman: He's averaging 17.2 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. A healthy Elton Brand probably would have cut into his board average, but that shouldn't diminish his candidacy for Most Improved Player of the Year. In short, he's playing how the Clippers had hoped he'd play last season. Honorable mention: Marcus Camby: He leads the league in blocked shots and is second in rebounding, but does anybody think the Nuggets deserve three All-Stars when they're clinging to the West's No. 7 seed? If so, George Karl better be sweating.
Johnny Ludden is the NBA editor for Yahoo! Sports. Send Johnny a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 11:20 pm, EST
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