Prepare your complaints. One week after the announcement of the starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, the league revealed the contest's West and East reserves, as selected by NBA coaches, Thursday night on TNT. The team is the usual mix of established superstars, soon-to-be household names, and first-time selections. Naturally, there are also some snubs and deserving players left off the list.
We'll start with the West, a far deeper conference with more difficult choices to join starters Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin. The backcourt reserves include Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (7th selection), Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (1st), San Antonio Spurs mainstay Tony Parker (6th), and Houston Rockets scorer James Harden (2nd). The frontcourt boasts Harden's teammate Dwight Howard (8th), Lillard's pick-and-roll partner LaMarcus Aldridge (3rd), and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (12th).
The East, which currently has just five teams with more wins than losses, features a less star-laden list of reserves alongside starters Kyrie Irving, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. The backcourt has Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (1st), Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson (7th), and Toronto Raptors scorer DeMar DeRozan (1st). The frontcourt comprises Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh (9th), Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (1st), Chicago Bulls big man Joakim Noah (2nd), and Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (2nd).
For those counting, the All-Star Game will have five first-time selections, with only Curry serving as a starter from that group. Kobe has the most All-Star selections with 16.
The Miami Heat are the only team with three All-Stars, while the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Clippers each placed two players.
Many West players deserved inclusion, with Anthony Davis of the host New Orleans Pelicans, Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns, Mike Conley on the Memphis Grizzlies, and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings standing out. However, it's difficult to refer to any of these players as snubs in such a crowded field. The silver lining is that Bryant (and potentially Paul) could be replaced due to injury, which could give another first-timer a chance to soak in the All-Star experience.
Filling out the East roster with protoypical All-Stars proved a difficult task for many analysts, but some of the selections were quite surprising. DeRozan's backcourt mate Kyle Lowry looked like a more deserving candidate, and the Nets' disappointing start made most observers argue that versatile Indiana Pacers wing Lance Stephenson deserved inclusion over Joe Johnson. Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic was another common pick in the run-up to Thursday's selection. As reported by Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, Johnson over Lowry was the closest pick in the conference.
The All-Star Game itself will take place on February 16 in New Orleans. The winning team earns nothing of tangible value, because it is a fun exhibition game that proves very little.
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