Finding All-Stars in a Weakened Conference

Posted: December 26, 2013 in sports

The Eastern Conference has had quite a few down years in recent memory but this year is without a doubt the worst that it has ever been. With only two teams over .500 that leaves room for any team to make the playoffs with sub .500 records. With a conference playing so bad who is really an all-star? Besides Indiana and Miami the eastern conference is flat-out playing an atrocious brand of basketball right now. The 9 win Nets and Knicks can still get back into the playoffs just by winning a few games… that’s how bad things are. After the top two spots, the three through eight seeds are really up for grabs. Out West the Golden State Warriors are currently the eighth seed by a few games, if they were in the east they would be the third seed with a shot at catching Miami for the second. There are even teams in the hunt for the eighth seed out West that play better than a lot of the teams in the East.

With the East being as bad as it is choosing the all-star reserves will be somewhat tricky. Other than the usual suspects, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, there’s a lot of room for newcomers playing for bad teams. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are already expected to make it as well, but who will be the backups? In the front court Brook Lopez and Luol Deng both are out with injuries, Spencer Hawes is having a decent season but is he really an all-star? Jeff Green, from the Boston Celtics, was expected to carry the load while Rondo recovers from his ACL tear last season but he’s just been another role player for them.

The only players that I can really see having somewhat of a clear shot at making the team are Josh Smith, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and David West. With Derrick Rose out Noah and Boozer have stepped their games up. Then Josh Smith is having his most consistent season as a pro. He’s averaging 16 points 7 rebounds and 3 assists. His shot percentage is sitting at 41% which isn’t great for a guy whose strength is in the paint. David West is a guy who’s the vocal leader for the number one team in the league and can turn it on offensively if he’s asked to do so. He’s averaging 13 points 7 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 50% from the field, all-star numbers? No, if he averaged 15 points maybe, but in a down eastern conference he should be considered.

The back court players are even more difficult to choose. I know that Kyrie Irving and John Wall should be there for sure. Kemba Walker has been playing out of his mind or a while now so he should be there as well. Here comes the tricky part, which players have a real shot after those two guys? Deron Williams? Evan Turner? Will enough people add Michael Carter-Williams as a write in vote? What about Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson? He’s been playing well all season. He leads all shooting guards in assists and rebounding then he has a league high in triple doubles with three. It seems like every time he gets on the court he gets close to having a triple double. He’s not a guy who is going to score a ton of points night in and night out (Even though he has set three new career highs this season 22,23,26) but he is a guy who will get the job done in every facet of the game.

Joe Johnson is a guy who will get consideration just based on his name alone. But in all honesty if you’re playing for a New York team and your name isn’t Carmelo Anthony I don’t think you have done much to earn a spot to represent your team as an all-star, especially with the East playing as poor as they are. When you look at the Nets and Knicks there’s no reason these teams shouldn’t be near the top of the conference. Things like the Knicks double overtime victory over the Bucks is not impressive. These two teams need to step up.

The Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat should be expecting to have multiple guys represent their organizations come All Star Weekend. When you’re at the top of a weekend conference and your record is amongst the league’s best in either conference, I think it’s should be a given that your guys deserve to be there. There are guys on losing teams that put up a fight every night then there are guys who don’t even show up. The East has more guys taking it easy than going out there and fighting for their team and it shows. When the third seed isn’t winning half of their games there’s no excuse for the teams below them to not play with a sense of urgency. They should smell blood and make a push for the next teams spot.

It’s really sad to see an entire conference play so poorly. When you look at the Western Conference there’s a vast amount of good teams. You have to praise their owners and general managers for their ability to put these teams together. The Eastern Conference is a total wreck and when you look for the reasons to why that is; you have to look at the people at the top and put the blame on them. Everything starts from the top and trickles down. If the front office isn’t performing well most likely that team isn’t either. Hopefully the East gets back to being competitive but from what we’re seeing out of this conference now, I’d expect this to take quite some time.

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