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

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 East ...


Fans picked: Dwight Howard(notes), Orlando Magic

They should have picked: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

There's no way around this. He's probably the Defensive Player of the Year, he's a stud scorer no matter how he puts the points up, and he's the rock on a team that has gone in 15 different directions this season, while still trending upward as we hit the midpoint of the season.

What hits from here is something that needs to be shoved inside of every fortune cookie: Atlanta's Al Horford(notes) is having as good a season as any center outside of Dwight from the last few years, or Shaq from 10 years ago, or Yao Ming(notes) from five years ago. His work hasn't been as impactful as Dwight's this particular season, but it hasn't been far off, and we need to send kudos to this underappreciated should-be power forward.


Fans picked: LeBron James(notes), Miami Heat; Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), New York Knicks

They should have picked: LeBron James, Miami Heat; Amar'e Stoudemire New York Knicks

I still believe, because his offense is way better than Amar'e's defense, and his defense is on par with Stoudemire's brilliant offense, that Kevin Garnett(notes) is at the very worst a coin-flip proposition for the other spot alongside LeBron. But Stoudemire has played 559 more minutes this season, and that stuff counts, so we're going with the big man that turned New York's fortunes around.

Nobody alternates awful and amazing like James. He's no joy to watch, as he dribbles for a good chunk of the time, but he changes the game of basketball. He's this game's most valuable player, and he's having a remarkable season. In several different ways.


Fans picked: Dwyane Wade(notes), Miami Heat; Derrick Rose(notes), Chicago Bulls

They should have picked: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat; Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

I respect Rajon Rondo's(notes) game, and appreciate his basketball instincts. But the idea of voting for a player amongst the top two guards in the conference, even if he's made just 25 free throws all season? That's too much for me to handle.

Of course there are several other important -- way more important -- factors to a basketball game. Several factors that Rajon, at times, dominates on his way to leading the C's to a win. But Derrick Rose is outright carrying the Chicago Bulls. And even if he weren't stuck putting those numbers up on a loaded team, Rose would still be the nazz.

And Dwyane Wade? You might think him gimpy, and hate the way he earns all those free throws. But most of you would trade your team's best player for him. "Would," and "should."

What gets tricky are the All-Star reserves. And we'll get to that next week.

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