February 4, 2014

The AllMost Stars Team

By now, you've probably seen the 2014 NBA All Star rosters. You've probably voted for many of the starters and you probably agree with most of the reserves that the coaches voted in. But as it is with every year, the list of players snubbed at the All Star Game becomes almost as interesting as the list of those who did make it.

This year is no different. Every team feels like their star should be an All Star, and argues incessantly to the relative merits of their own representatives over the others. Then, there are those like Grantland's Zach Lowe, who argued that there are no 'snubs' in the West, just great players unfortunate in the wrong conference. It's true that the conference imbalance also makes for imbalanced All Star teams. And at the end of the day, each team can only have 12 players, so no matter what a personal definition of an 'All Star' is, the final list cannot fit them all. Now whether or not you agree with the contentious voting system (fans for the starters + coaches for the reserves) is a whole different issue.

Here is my list of nine Almost All Stars this season, or AllMost Stars. One could make an argument for most of them to make the East or West squads, but only a few of them could truly replace someone less deserving actually in the final roster. One of them will definitely make it though, since Kobe Bryant has been ruled out to injury and the NBA's brand new commissioner Adam Silver will make it one of his first duties to choose a replacement in the West.


Goran Dragic: 'The Dragon' has been an absolute monster this season, and if the NBA wants to find another guard to take Kobe's spot, Dragic should be a no-brainer. Dragic has been the heart and soul of the Phoenix Suns, who are the league's most amazing story this season. He has lifted the team up from the expected tail-end of the West up to sixth place. He's averaging a career-high 20 points per game this season to go with over six assists. Most impressively, he has helped the Suns survive the loss of Eric Bledsoe without missing a step in their rankings.

Anthony Davis: Davis could give Dragic a run for his money in the race for Kobe's replacement, despite playing a completely different position. First of all, Davis would become the only representative of the All Star Game's host city - New Orleans - in the game. Davis has improved his game dramatically this season and is putting up historically impressive numbers. Davis is averaging 20.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and a league-leading 3.3 blocks a game this season for the Pelicans, developing into a rare, dominant two-way big man. Despite the fact that the Pelicans are far outside the playoff race in the West, he has a PER of 27.1, fifth best in the league. Ultimately, it's his team's losing record that kept him out of the West roster.

DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins missed the roster because of his team, too, which are currently bottom-feeders in the West. But don't blame it on 'Boogie' - Cousins has been an absolute beast, enjoying his best season with career highs in points (22.6 ppg) and rebounds (11.6 rpg) as well as enjoying the NBA’s highest usage rate.

Mike Conley: The numbers - although impressive - might not scream 'All Star', but don't let the Grizzlies' slow pace fool you into ignoring Conley's contributions. Averaging a career-high 18 points per game, Conley helped keep the Grizzlies barely afloat in Marc Gasol's absence, and upon Gasol's return, helped the team propel to a 9-2 streak. Still, it might be too little too late in the West, which is loaded with talented guards including Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and James Harden.

Tim Duncan: A veteran of 14 All Star games, T-Robot missed the cut for only the third time int he last 16 years! With the Spurs suffering a mix of injuries, Duncan has helped Parker in keeping the team near the top of the West and is still putting up consistently impressive numbers. With 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, it's clear that Duncan - even as he pushes close to 38 - hasn't conceded to Father Time just yet.

David Lee: A regular double-double machines, Lee's offensive numbers could put him in All Star consideration nearly every season, and this year, he has been the second-best player for the successful Warriors. Lee rounds up four big AllMost Stars out West, and I would've picked any of them in the spot over Dirk Nowitzki. Lee has averaged 19 points on 51.6 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds this season.


Lance Stephenson: Probably the biggest snub of either conference, Stephenson has been rightly miffed at being snubbed by Eastern Conference coaches to make the Eastern reserves, despite being the third-best player in the conference's best team, leading the league in triple doubles, and being a lock-down defensive player. Stephenson is averaging career highs across the board and could be one of the top choices for the Most Improved Player award. For now, he has made it clear that "I already had a chip on my shoulder and it made me even worse. Now I'm going to kill everybody who is in front of me."

Kyle Lowry: I would've chosen Lowry over DeRozan as the Raptors' lone representative at the All Star Game in New Orleans. Head to head, DeRozan has a slight scoring edge, but Lowry rebounds and assists better, and has been slightly more consistent. It's close, but I think DeRozan's injury and Lowry's play in his absence sealed the deal for me. The Raptors have been the surprise team of the East thanks to both these players, standing atop the Atlantic Division. I think both of them and Lance Stephenson could have been picked over the last Eastern guard spot, which shockingly went to Joe Johnson.

Jeff Teague: With the Hawks hanging on to the third spot in the East despite Al Horford's absence, it could be argued that the team should've been rewarded with a second All Star besides Paul Millsap. Besides John Wall, Teague has been the best point guard in the East and is averaging career-highs across the board, including points (16.9) and assists (8).

*The East is too awful for me to give any another considerations, so Aaron Afflalo, Al Jefferson, have to deal with being the snubbed snubs.

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