The NBA announced the complete rosters for the annual NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans this coming Valentines' Day Weekend. The starters were announced last week and there were few surprised other than Kobe Bryant getting voted in despite playing only six games and Kevin Love passing Dwight Howard for a starting spot.
Out West, that was remedied for Howard and the Rockets as Howard made his eighth straight All-Star team. The rest of the West reserves were all worthy candidates:
Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge arguably should be starters as they have powered the Blazers to a blistering start in the Western Conference. Nobody had the Blazers making this kind of a leap this quickly with that relatively young squad.
Dirk Nowitzki got sort of a "lifetime achievement" selection, but is certainly worthy of the nomination with 21.6 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting. Tony Parker too kind of got the veteran status nomination, but has put up some good numbers worthy of the trip to New Orleans.
So for snubs like Goran Dragic of the Suns, Anthony Davis of the Pelicans and DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings, it is hard to figure whom they would replace.
It is likely that Kobe Bryant will miss the game and it is very possible Chris Paul will miss the game. That should open the door for Dragic to get an invite as well as the hometown sophomore, Davis.
The East though is a much bigger mess. There are several first-time All Stars and many are deserving, but there are a few puzzling choices and guys left out that seemingly deserve a second look.
Among the Raptors many figured Kyle Lowry would get the nod over DeMar DeRozan. Both have had very good years, but Lowry has been the engine driving the ship up North. He is averaging 16.8 points and 7.6 assists per game. Toronto is currently the third seed in the East. DeRozan has put in some big scoring games so it does not seem like it is too egregious to include him.
Joe Johnson, on the other hand?
Johnson has been integral to the Nets recovering from their extremely slow start. His numbers though are nowhere near as good as the guys left off this roster.
Lance Stephenson has been a great player for a team lacking a really true point guard that has the best record in the league. He has three triple doubles (and is working on a fourth as I write this against the Suns). His overall numbers are not great, but he has had some very strong games.
Arron Afflalo has been the leading scorer for the Magic all year and has done so extremely efficiently. The only problem is the Magic have the second worst record in the league and somebody has to do the scoring from them -- no matter how efficiently it comes.
And then there is Al Jefferson. His former teammate from Utah, Paul Millsap, made his first All-Star Game, but Jefferson is still looking for his first. He has been a a stalwart in the low post and has anchored Charlotte's run into Playoff contention after two years at the very bottom of the standings.
It is hard to make an argument for Johnson over these three and they all have legitimate gripes.
Then again, it is all an exhibition. The fans should get a good show.
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