1. Which All-Star selection fills you with blissful joy?
Kyle Soppe – @unSOPable23 – Jrue Holiday, for all the critics who say that the 76ers are a team without a true star player. This kid was a prodigy when he went to UCLA and has been as good as advertised in Philly. He already has 53 more assists than last season (27 fewer games played) and has seen his scoring average jump by nearly 50%. How many point guards in the league average at least 17 points and 9 assists? Only one.
Matt Cianfrone – @Matt_Cianfrone – Paul George. As I Bucks fan I should hate George but I just find it so hard. A superb defender, stupid athletic, great passing young guard who has carried his team minus what many people think is their best player. I am glad to see George rewarded even after his slow start. Also I already can’t wait for his dunks that will come in the game. It is going to be great.
Myles Ma – @MylesMaNJ - Tyson Chandler. Yes, this is a total homer pick. But this selection absolutely fills me with blissful joy. Tyson Chandler has finally made an All-Star team after serving his time as the lynchpin of a Knicks defense whose perimeter defenders volunteer as traffic cones at the DMV. It’s his first All-Star game, and it comes in the midst of one of his finest seasons. Over the past three years, Chandler has decided to limit his offensive game to just dunks and free throws, with spectacularly efficient results. This year, he’s perfected the art of the tap out, turning a lot of J.R. Smith bricks into the midpoints of extra-long possessions instead of the unhappy endings they usually are. He even made No. 8 on GQ’s 25 most stylish men of 2012. Even with that scraggly-ass beard. It’s definitely his year.
Kris Fenrich – @DancingWithNoah - David Lee (I almost typed “David Curry”) with Jrue Holiday coming at a close second. I often refer to Lee as the modern-day Bob Pettit and I’m only partially joking. He scores with ease, rebounds well, has well-above-average vision for a four man and passes well. And none of this is new, it’s just the guy’s never been in a winning situation before. Good to see his multiple skills acknowledged among the league’s best.
Michael Shagrin – @mshaggy -Kyrie Irving. When it’s all said and done, I think this kid will have the last laugh. He’s a Chris Paul look-alike with more size and a smoother J. And he’s only 20 years old! Classic Kyrie outing: the night he returned after breaking his finger, the Cavs played a nail biter against the Lakers with Kyrie going for 28 points. As Kobe tried to wrest control of the game from him in the final minutes, he cooly steered Cleveland to victory. His absence from the starting unit was almost my answer to the following question…
2. Which All-Star selection fills you with vengeful wrath?
Kyle Soppe - Kevin Garnett. “Vengeful wrath” may be a bit strong, but I’m not looking forward to the storylines about he and Carmelo Anthony sharing a frontcourt. The All-Star game is meant to highlight the good in our game and what happened a few weeks ago was anything but. Garnett is an all-time great, but he doesn’t deserve to be starting this game. In fact, it is possible that (at this point in his career) he should be the last person off the bench for the East.
Matt Cianfrone - Luol Deng. Do the Bulls really deserve two All-Stars? I don’t think so and the one rightful Bulls’ All-Star was Joakim Noah. It just makes no sense at all to me for Deng to have made this team over someone like Brook Lopez. If you needed another wing then there was Paul Pierce, whose PER is almost 4 points higher and has missed less games, or even Joe Johnson. I just don’t think Deng did enough to merit it.
Myles Ma - LaMarcus Aldridge. I like Aldridge, but Marc Gasol should be an All-Star. He’s always been an exquisite defender and a crisp passer, but he’s gotten even better this year. He’s been less efficient on offense, but he’s still one of the more reliable scorers on the Grizzlies. And he’s still shooting better than LaMarcus Aldridge, who is in a down year. I hate to make this argument too, but Gasol has done his work on one of the best teams in the league, while the Trail Blazers have been mediocre at best.
Kris Fenrich - We’re gonna go ahead and keep it in Oakland with the omission of Stephen Curry. It’s a completely random stat, but Curry’s the only player in NBA history to flirt with a +20 points, +6 assists and +3 threes made on a nightly basis. We just haven’t seen point guards shoot threes the way he does and while I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a shame, Curry’s definitely one of the top twelve players in the Western Conference this season and deserves to be among the best in Houston.
Michael Shagrin - Dwight Howard. Stan Van Gundy’s Dwight Howard deserves to be a starter on the All-Star Team. That Howard is arguably the best big man on the planet. Mike Brown/D’Antoni’s Dwight Howard, on the other hand, isn’t even All-Star reserve quality. We know how Dwight performs on an All-Star team–every time the glitterati Lakers play he’s out there lumbering around, half a second behind the action.
3. Using whatever criteria you hold most dear, what would be your starting five for each conference?
Kyle Soppe – East Starters: Holiday (G), Kyrie Irving (G), Paul George (F), Carmelo Anthony (F), LeBron James (F)
Matt Cianfrone – East Starters: (PG) Kyrie, (SG) George (SF) Melo (PF) LeBron (C) Noah
West Starters: (PG) CP3, (SG) Kobe (SF) Durant, (PF) Blake (C) Duncan.
Seriously look at those 10. THE LOBS AND DUNKS!!!!
West Starters: Marc Gasol, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul
Kris Fenrich - This is tough because it causes me to think in terms greater than one, but here it goes:
Eastern Conference Starters: G: Rajon Rondo (Tony Parker), G: Kyrie Irving (Steph Curry), F: Carmelo Anthony, F: Lebron James, C: Joakim Noah
I was going to add a couple guys as 6th men, but instead I decided to parenthesize the players who I have as top-10 players this season, but would be hamstrung by the conference limitations. In my revised world, Parker and Curry would start alongside the remaining EC all-stars.
Michael Shagrin -I’m designing teams that wouldn’t lose. J.J. Abrams would be forced to make a movie about this matchup were it to come to fruition in Houston.
West Starters: G: Chris Paul, G: James Harden, F: Kevin Durant, F: Blake Griffin, F/C (not trying to start anything here): Tim Duncan
East Starters: G: Kyrie Irving, G: Paul George, F: Lebron James, F: Carmelo Anthony, C: Tyson Chandler
4. Using players from either conference, build a fearsome starting five from the leftover pieces (players who did not make the All-Star Team).
Kyle Soppe – I built this roster based on the “leftover players” I think it would perform in an All -Star game.
Matt Cianfrone - (PG) Steph Curry (SG) Jamal Crawford (SF) Pierce (PF) LARRY SANDERS! (C) Brook Lopez
Shooting from the outside, Lopez in the post and LARRY SANDERS! to dunk everything near the rim and block a ton of shots. This would be fun and competitive.
Michael Shagrin – Consider how skilled these players are:
Now consider how thoroughly demolished they would get at the hands of either team in Question #3. The talent among the upper-echelon of NBA stars is truly astounding.