My 2015 NBA All-Star ballot

With a quarter of the regular season in the books, NBA All-Star balloting began in earnest yesterday.

Of course I took the first available opportunity to vote for my ten most deserving starters – three frontcourt players and two guards from each conference:

Western Conference

FC: Anthony Davis (New Orleans)

25.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 32.9 PER, 10-11 record

Losing record or not, Davis has established himself as the best big man in the league and is putting up a combination of numbers that are historically ridiculous. He is developing a scarily fluid jump shot that could one day be the cornerstone of a title-level offense if he is ever surrounded by talent:

Anthony Davis

FC: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland)

21.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 21.1 PER, 17-5 record

The Blazers, surprising the league again, sit third in a brutal West with the fourth best defense in the NBA. They deserve a representative on the starting five. Aldridge, quietly one of the better big man defenders in the game and a killer mid-range shooter, is central to everything they do:

LaMarcus Aldridge

FC: Marc Gasol (Memphis)

19.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.8 APG, 23.4 PER, 17-4 record

One of the smartest players in basketball, Gasol has taken on a greater offensive load and it is paying dividends for the Grizzlies, who possess the league’s second best record. He remains one of the best passing big men and defensive anchors in the NBA, but is now putting up more of his patented tippy-toe jumpers, which can only ever be a good thing:

Marc Gasol

G: Stephen Curry (Golden State)

23.0 PPG, 7.7 APG, 5.1 RPG, 26.9 PER, 19-2 record

Sixth in the league in both scoring and assists, Curry is the unquestioned leader of the best team in the league and the probable MVP winner if the season were to end today. His ridiculous pull-up threes on the fast break represent perhaps the most exciting play in basketball:

Stephen Curry

G: James Harden (Houston)

26.4 PPG, 6.5 APG, 6.2 RPG, 25.5 PER, 17-5 record

The league’s leading scorer, Harden has been a one-man wrecking crew on offense and has even sured up his defense after the Internet realized it was non-existent last season. A series of virtuoso performances have led Houston to eight wins in its last ten games – all of them without Dwight Howard. Teams are gearing their entire defense around stopping him and still failing, as the Kings found out last night when he dropped 44 on them despite their triple teams:

James Harden

Honorable mentions:

  • Klay Thompson (21.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 19-2 record) – backing up his agent’s best two-way two-guard claim, but starting spots in the West backcourt are reserved for MVP candidates only
  • Chris Paul (18.0 PPG, 10.1 APG, 16-5 record) – has the Clips on a 9-game win streak but is another victim of the West’s overall strength
  • DeMarcus Cousins (23.5 PPG, 12.6 RPG, 11-12 record) – the rare low-post force who requires a fairly automatic double-team, but has missed 8 of his team’s 23 games
  • Kobe Bryant (25.5 PPG, 4.9 APG, 6-16 record) – about to pass MJ in all-time scoring, but is shooting a ghastly 39% from the field

Eastern Conference

FC: LeBron James (Cleveland)

24.8 PPG, 7.7 APG, 5.5 RPG, 24.5 PER, 13-8 record

LeBron is having a markedly less impressive season than his past several, but leads the East in scoring and PER nonetheless. He put on the kind of shooting and passing display for Wills and Kate in Brooklyn on Monday that only he could produce:

LeBron James

FC: Chris Bosh (Miami)

21.5 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.1 APG, 22.3 PER, 10-12 record

Bosh is an efficient top-ten scorer and active defender whose team is the seventh seed as things stand. He was at times ridiculed for his lack of production alongside LeBron James, but is now back to catching the ball in his sweet spots and taking 16 shots a game for the first time in five years:

Chris Bosh

FC: Pau Gasol (Chicago)

19.8 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 21.5 PER, 13-8 record

Lakers and Bulls fans alike wondered going into this season whether Pau was washed up or had just been half-assing it on an unhappy and dysfunctional team the past two years. Clearly it was the latter. Remarkably he is having one of the best defensive seasons of his career at age 34 and is third in the league in rebounds. The last time he averaged this many points was eight years ago, but as Dallas found out in a throwback 29 and 14 performance last week, he’s still as skilled as anyone with his back to the basket and is also feasting on open jumpers alongside Derrick Rose:

Pau Gasol

G: Kyle Lowry (Toronto)

20.1 PPG, 7.5 APG, 4.8 RPG, 23.4 PER, 16-6 record

Lowry has been the best player on the best team in the East. He is a great leader and a bulldog on both ends, consistently leaving his imprint on games in ways that the box score does not always show. His 4.1 assist-to-turnover ratio is second in the league, and since teammate DeMar DeRozan went down two weeks ago he has averaged 24.3 points and 10.3 assists per game to keep the team afloat. Most enjoyably, he has also become a master at the unexpected pass to a trailing teammate on the break:

Kyle Lowry

G: John Wall (Washington)

18.3 PPG, 10.4 APG, 4.9 RPG, 20.9 PER, 15-6 record

The Wiz are tied for the second best record in the East and Wall is the reason why. He is a competitor who, like Lowry, takes pride in his defense and is developing into a great leader. He is second in the league in assists and has averaged a Magic-esque 14 of them a night over the last six games. Many of them are coming from his unparalleled ability to draw the defense in transition and find open shooters on the perimeter:

John Wall

Honorable mentions:

  • Jimmy Butler (21.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 13-8 record) – the Bulls’ leading scorer and best perimeter defender, but he’s not edging out Lowry or Wall
  • Jeff Teague (16.9 PPG, 7.0 APG, 15-6 record) – leading the Hawks in scoring and assists, but again not supplanting Lowry or Wall
  • Carmelo Anthony (22.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4-20 record) – still an elite scorer, but 4-20 records are not rewarded here
  • Al Jefferson (19.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 6-15 record) – the Hornets were supposed to make a run at a top five seed but instead appear to be making a run at a top five draft pick

In summary:

In reality, Kobe and Carmelo will both be among the leading vote getters and Jeremy Lin probably has more chance of starting than Marc Gasol. Alas, most fans are stupid and some are prejudiced.

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