Predictions for NBA All Star Team 2016-2017 Season

By+Dennis+Yang+from+San+Francisco%2C+CA%2C+USA+%28at+the+nba+all+star+game%29+%5BCC+BY+2.0+%28http%3A%2F%2Fcreativecommons.org%2Flicenses%2Fby%2F2.0%29%5D%2C+via+Wikimedia+Commons
By Dennis Yang from San Francisco, CA, USA (at the nba all star game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dennis Yang from San Francisco, CA, USA (at the nba all star game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dennis Yang from San Francisco, CA, USA (at the nba all star game) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Christy Wong, Editor in Chief

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It is a new year, signaling that the halfway point in the NBA season is approaching, meaning that the All-Star break is around the corner.  The game was originally scheduled to be in Charlotte, North Carolina.  However, due to the transgender bathroom laws in North Carolina, the NBA has decided to host All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras.  Many people have speculated over which players will start and who will be benched, since many players are deserving candidates to play in New Orleans.  Although it is highly improbable that we will see the following rotations actually play in New Orleans, these are the players I believe have earned their positions in the All-Star Team as starters and reserves.

 

East Starters

G- John Wall

G-Jimmy Butler

F-Lebron James

F-Giannis Antetokounmpo

C-Hassan Whiteside

 

Most people believe that Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry are the most deserving candidates for the starting point guard position; Irving will most likely end up being voted in for this honor, but I believe that John Wall has had a better season.  He is one of the best (if not the best) defensive guards in the league, ranking second in the league in steals per game (2.2) and third in blocks per game amongst point guards.  Most players selected to play as All-Stars have reputations as offensive players but lack effort on the defensive end.  However, the players who hustle to grab the offensive rebounds or make the big defensive plays are the ones who contribute the most to helping their teams get the win, this is something that should get more recognition.  Wall’s quickness allows him to score and make good defensive plays for his team to win; although he is one of the primary scorers in Washington, he also draws out defenders and shares the ball to give his teammates the openings to score.

 

Irving is often perceived as the best point guard in the East because of his spectacular offensive skills.  Irving averages 23.8 points a game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 5.7 assists a game.  These stats look good and are relatively similar to Wall’s stats (22.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 10.2 APG), however, the only category that Irving leads Wall in is points per game.  Although Irving is generally seen as a superior scorer than Wall, they average around the same amount of points per game.  In addition, Irving has only six double-doubles in the season (while playing 34 games), compared to Wall’s 23 (in 37 games played).  Sure Irving is a better shooter, but Wall is a more rounded player who embodies all the characteristics that every team would want.

 

Jimmy Butler and Lebron James are pretty much locks as starters in this game, both being popular players who score a lot of points every game.  The All-Stars are expected to put on a show for fans by scoring a lot of points. With Wall, these two players would have plenty of opportunities to score.  For my other starting forward selection I picked a guard to fill this spot because at 6’11, Giannis Antetokounmpo has the length to play as a power forward or center.  The “Greek Freak” has lived up to his nickname by having a monstrous season where he averages 23.2 points per game, 8.7 rebounds a game, and 5.6 assists a game.  

 

Although there are three forwards allowed per team (a center does not have to start), I believe that this rule is unfair for centers because it is common that these three spots are occupied by three forwards who score a lot of points.  Many centers play a huge role as a defensive presence for their respective teams, often assigned to guard the best offensive forwards and other big and physical players.  They bring an energy to the team, often making defensive stops or offensive rebounds, which spark their teams to rally.  

 

Although forwards generally get more votes than centers, it is still possible for a true center to start a game, which was evident when Andre Drummond did it last year while averaging 16.2 points per game, 14.8 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks per game.  Even though Hassan Whiteside will probably not get enough votes to become a starter (since most people are not paying attention to a struggling Heat team), he has been the best center in the Eastern Conference.  Whiteside has 26 double-doubles in 37 games played, he averages 17.5 points per game, 14.3 rebounds per game, and 2.2 blocks per game.  These numbers demonstrate that he is not only a force to be reckoned with on the glass, but he also brings offense, making him the complete package.  If Drummond earned his spot as a starter last season with those impressive numbers, Whiteside certainly deserves the starting role with his numbers that surpass Drummond’s.

 

East Reserves

Kyrie Irving

Kyle Lowry

DeMar DeRozan

Paul George

Carmelo Anthony

Kevin Love

Andre Drummond

 

West Starters

G-James Harden

G-Russell Westbrook

F-Kevin Durant

F-Anthony Davis

C-DeMarcus Cousins

 

Stephen Curry is surely a lock for the starting point guard spot for the West team, however Russell Westbrook and James Harden have proven this year that Curry is no longer the best point guard in the league.  Harden surely deserves to start, with the year he is having as the Rockets’ starting point guard averaging 28.6 points a game, 8.2 rebounds a game, and 11.7 assists a game.  In addition, Harden leads the league in double-doubles with 34 (11 are triple-doubles) in 42 games.  On the other hand, Westbrook has made his case for being MVP with the crazy season he has had so far.  Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.5 assists per game while having 32 double-doubles in 41 games (19 of which are triple-doubles).  The talent from other point guards in this conference overshadow Curry’s season where he is averaging 24.7 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and 5.9 assists a game.  

 

Durrant is surely a lock for a spot as a starting forward, since he leads the Western Conference in points per game, rebounds per game, and assists per game.  Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins have also had spectacular seasons as primary scorers for their teams, both averaging double-doubles due to their supreme ability to score and rebound..

 

West Reserves

Chris Paul

Damian Lillard

Kawhi Leonard

Gordon Hayward

Draymond Green  

Karl-Anthony Towns

DeAndre Jordan

 

Deciding on the West reserves was much more difficult than formulating a group of starters, due to the abundance of talent within the Western Conference.  Chris Paul and Damian Lillard’s performances this season have pushed Curry out of my reserves list, however Lillard would most likely become a snub because his performance may get overlooked by his team’s record.  However, this talent is undeniable, within the 37 games he has played he is averaging 26.3 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 6.1 assist per game (in all three of these categories his stats are better than Curry’s).  While Paul has shown year after year why he is arguably the best defensive point guard in the league, although he may not score as much as other All-Star point guards, he makes up for this with his marvelous passing ability.  He has 16 double-doubles within 35 games played this season since he averages 17.7 points a game and nearly 10 assists per game.  Paul is amongst a small group of point guards in the league who contribute in multiple categories, in fact only three other point guards in the league have more double-doubles than him (Westbrook, Harden, and Wall).  

 

Draymond Green and Gordon Hayward have had great seasons this year and have contributed to their teams having success.  Green may be overlooked because he does not score as many points as his other teammates in Golden State but he is one of the few players who can score, rebound, and dish out assists so that his team can win.  Players with their stats spread out across the board should not be overlooked, even if it appears that they are not spectacular in one specific category.  On the other hand, Hayward has made some improvements to help his team have the fifth best record in the West.   This season he has career highs in points (22.1) and rebounds (5.8), while shooting a 46.9% field goal percentage.  

 

In addition, Karl-Anthony Towns may end up getting overlooked because the Timberwolves have not had a great season as a team, but Towns is their biggest brightside.  Their big man is averaging 21.9 points a game and 12.0 rebounds per game, he has 30 double-doubles within the 40 games he has played (one being a triple double).  Even if Towns does not get a spot on the All-Star team this year, he is only 20 and has plenty of time to improve, in the next few years this young man has the potential to become the best center in the league.  

 

We will have to wait until the full East and West rosters are announced in order to see how many of the players I listed will actually play in the 66th All-Star Game.  These outstanding athletes I selected as worthy candidates certainly deserve to be in colored beads and celebrating Fat Tuesday from February 16 to February 19.

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