2013 NBA All-Star Game: Predicting the Western Conference Reserves


The voting process for selecting the starters is in the fans’ hands. For the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, there isn’t much to argue about.

In other words, there wasn’t a particular selection that calls for a change in the voting process. Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant are all certainly worthy of nominations. The only question mark is Dwight Howard, who’s been at the heart of most of the scrutiny the Lakers have endured. Otherwise, I think the fans deserve a round of applause.

Now, the coaches are on the hot seat.

The West is again muddled both in the frontcourt and backcourt. And this means one thing: someone, if not more, will be left out of the party. It happens yearly and there’s really nothing anyone can do to alter the configuration so that everyone worthy of a nomination, is nominated. The only way to do this would be to expand the roster. But that’s irrelevant.

So, let’s start with the guards. There will be roughly four. As for the “duh” picks, we have James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Harden’s case is quite simple. His Rockets, who were supposed to be sitting in the cellar–or somewhere close–are clinging onto the eighth seed. He’s third in the Western Conference in scoring at 25.8 per game, and also has a 22.25 PER. Only four other guards have higher efficiency ratings and at least two of them are already All-Stars (Bryant and Paul) while the other two are just waiting for the announcement to be official (Tony Parker and Westbrook).

Westbrook, meanwhile, is what you would call a lock because he essentially has all factors in his favor. His team has the best record in the league, he’s trimmed down his turnover numbers and he has become a better “true” point guard, averaging a career-high 8.3 assists per game. No longer can pundits criticize him for not facilitating the ball like a point guard your prototypical point guard (third in the West in assists per game).

Outside of Harden and Westbrook, Parker is the next closest resemblance to a lock. The San Antonio Spurs are the same old Spurs and Parker seems to be the second-coming of the ageless wonder–Tim Duncan is the original one. Parker is averaging 19.7 points (second-best mark in his career) and 7.3 assists, which is just a few ticks off from his career-best mark of 7.7 assists per game. He may not bring the flaur like Westbrook and Harden, but he gets the job done at an efficient clip nonetheless.

As we move on, here’s a good question: what about Stephen Curry?

Well, that’s where things become a bit dicey because there will be four guards or four forwards. As it stands, the locks for the frontcourt are Duncan, Marc Gasol and perhaps David Lee, with the wild cards being Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Basically, the difference will come down to whether the coaches choose four forwards or four guards.

First of all, props to the fans for not jumping on the Jeremy Lin bandwagon. While he has a bright future, he isn’t deserving of a start or even a spot at this point. If he was voted in then Paul would be a reserve, which would thrust a more deserving guard–than Lin–out of the running. Luckily, the fans wisely nabbed Paul as the starter

So now, it’s really down to Randolph or Curry for that final spot.

Randolph and the Grizzlies have dominated on defense, yielding just 89.6 points per game. In terms of his own personal stats, Randolph isn’t doing anything out of the norm. He’s averaging 16.3 points and 11.8 rebounds along with a PER of 19.52.

Curry is second in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (45.5 percent), and is averaging 20.5 points and 6.6 assists, topped off by a PER of 19.34. His Warriors have been one of the NBA’s more surprising team’s this year, but have slipped slightly over the past week or so.

It’s hard to compare a forward to a guard, but what we can compare are their respective stats. Yes, Randolph is a crucial reason to Memphis’s success, but his numbers aren’t career highs, unlike Curry, who’s having a career year. So, if he stays healthy and the Warriors remain in contention, I’ll give Curry the nod.

The final list would be: Harden, Westbrook, Parker, Lee, Duncan, Gasol and Curry.

Yeah, not too many big surprises here, but there aren’t many versions, other than a group consisting of Randolph instead of Curry, or Aldridge instead of Randolph and Curry. Otherwise, voilà.

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