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The Should-Be All-Stars

There won't be much mystery when TNT announces the starters for the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas tonight at 7 p.m. The only marginally intriguing vote is whether Gilbert Arenas was able to catch Vince Carter at Eastern Conference guard or Allen Iverson was able to catch Tracy McGrady at Western Conference guard.

But for the most part, we know that the West will look like this: Yao Ming at center, Kobe Bryant and either Iverson or McGrady at guard and Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan at the forwards.

In the East, Shaquille O'Neal will be the starting center - even though he has played just five games - LeBron James and Chris Bosh will be the forwards and Dwyane Wade and Carter or Arenas (thanks to Iverson's demands out of Philadelphia) will be the starting guards.

Nothing really exciting there, but in this space, we'll go over the should-be starters and reserves. There will only be some subtle changes on this list. With the exception of the starting centers on both sides, every other player previously listed will earn a spot on this list. I've eliminated players who won't be available for the game or have missed significant time because of injuries (i.e. Yao, Shaq, Paul Pierce, Michael Redd, etc.). The beauty of the NBA all-star game is that every team doesn't have to be represented, like MLB. Can you imagine if we had to pick somebody from the Philadelphia 76ers? Or the Boston Celtics?

But here it is: The should-be all-stars.

Western Conference Starters
F Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas - This is a no-brainer here. He's the best player on the team with the best record. He might be the first Euro MVP. Easy pick.

F Kevin Garnett, Minnesota - If you didn't think that Garnett could dance, you were fooled - until he moonwalked in circles after tossing that basketball at Antonio McDyess last week. Impressive footwork, rivaled only by his game. Garnett is the reason the Timberwolves are in playoff position and no matter what Glen Taylor thinks - I hated to see Dwane Casey get fired after doing an amazing job with a lousy squad - this team shouldn't be nearly as competitive as it has been.

C Tim Duncan, San Antonio - Yao playing at an MVP level, but again, since he won't be able to return from his broken leg in time for the all-star game, he can't make this list. That leaves Duncan, who has been listed as a forward his whole career even though he is truly a center. His numbers have improved from last season and the Spurs remain an elite team because of him.

G Steve Nash, Phoenix - Gilbert Arenas likes to complain of getting snubbed, but what about Nash? The guy is the two-time MVP going for three in a row and he has never been voted to an all-star game. Does that make any sense? I know he doesn't dunk, but . . .

G Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers - Bryant doesn't get much mention in the MVP debate, but somebody has to get credit for the Lakers having the fourth-best record in the NBA with a starting lineup that includes a second-round pick at small forward (Luke Walton), an undrafted free agent at point guard (Smush Parker), a 19-year-old center (Andrew Bynum) and a jump-shooting power forward (Brian Cook). Can you think of many other players who can turn THAT unit into a playoff contender?

Western Conference Reserves
F Carmelo Anthony, Denver. F Carlos Boozer, Utah. F Josh Howard, Dallas. G Allen Iverson, Denver. F Shawn Marion, Phoenix. G Tracy McGrady, Houston. C Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix.

Player I hated to snub:
Marcus Camby, Denver. He has been awesome again this season and he has been the rock for them, but should three Denver Nuggets really be on this team? They aren't in first place. It doesn't seem right, especially when I already had to leave off Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Deron Williams, Baron Davis and Ray Allen.

Eastern Conference starters
F Chris Bosh, Toronto - I debated putting Jermaine O'Neal in this spot, since he's leading the league in blocks, but Bosh is averaging 22 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and Toronto is in first place in the Titantic Division.

F LeBron James, Cleveland - The Cavaliers have been a bit of a disappointment, and although he isn't playing at the same level as last season, what Eastern Conference forward is playing better than James?

C Dwight Howard, Orlando - What is an All-Star Game without Shaquille O'Neal? He's the biggest star in the league. If anything, he'll keep things entertaining that weekend in Vegas. I can just see him watching the slam dunk contest, sporting a pinstriped suit and top hat, cracking jokes. But oh well, you've got to play to get here on the list of the should-bes. The Magic wouldn't be in the race with Washington without Howard. Shaquille O'Neal doesn't want to give up his spot to the young fella, but Howard is the best center in Florida right now.

G Gilbert Arenas, Washington - Nobody in the Eastern Conference is playing better than Agent Zero, Captain Quirk, Mr. Hibachi, or as one of the readers on this blog dubbed him, Grillbert. He has blown up in a major way this season. Will the fans finally show him some love?

G Dwyane Wade, Miami - The Heat has been horrible this season. If the season ended today, Miami wouldn't even be a playoff team. Yet somehow, Wade gets mentioned in the MVP discussion. Why? Because the Heat might not have 10 wins without him.

Eastern Conference Reserves
Chauncey Billups, Detroit. Caron Butler, Washington. Vince Carter, New Jersey. Richard Hamilton, Detroit. Jason Kidd, New Jersey. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte. Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana.

Player I hated to snub: Joe Johnson, Atlanta. Johnson really is on an island in Atlanta, but one of the most unappreciated, solid players in the league is putting up some awesome numbers this season. I also had a hard time leaving off Ben Gordon and/or Luol Deng, but the East has too many guards and wings as it is. It was tough.

By Michael Lee  |  January 25, 2007; 3:42 PM ET
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Next: Gilbert to start in All Star game


hard to believe Chicago won't get anyone on the squad given that they've played pretty well. Gordon? Deng?

Posted by: Bernard King | January 25, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Is Bernard King the "former NBA Player"? Still curious.

Glad Butler made at least the reserves.
Dwayne wade and Kobe have yomen's tasks this year. My hat goes off to them.
I thought Lou Deng might catch a few votes but then again his on the trade block.

Man! Sounds like civil war slavery days doesn't it.

Thanks for the article.

Posted by: Robin | January 25, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Robin, several posters here have adopted names of former Lez Bullez greats (and some that weren't so great :). It'd be cool if it really was them, but I highly doubt Bernard, Ledell, Charles Jones, and Steve Colter are actually posting here :D

I think I might start posting as Dinner Bel Mel, though.

Posted by: Gack | January 25, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Will Perdue | January 25, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Since Yao has already said he isn't playing, do they pick two reserve centers?

Posted by: Gack | January 25, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Gack, I think that the commish picks a replacement when a fan-selected starter can't play. I don't think he's restricted to replacing a player who plays that position.

That's how Gil got on the team last year, I think. Does anyone remember who Gil replaced?

Michael, I think your "should-be" picks are pretty good, and I think there is value in recognizing the should-be's, but I'm also interested in seeing who you'd drop in the real world. I guess it is just Shaq replacing Okafor in the East in your list.

I think I'd question Vince Carter over Joe Johnson at this point (if Carter wasn't voted a starter). Then again, I haven't been able to stand him since he sandbagged his way out of Toronto.

Posted by: Bol | January 25, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I want to assure the reader above that Bernard King is only a name I chose because his name and his game should never be forgotten. We were robbed by his injuries.

I am a 6 foot white dude with suspect game at best.

That is all.

Posted by: Bernard King | January 25, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Is the poster named "Robin" Dick Grayson? Still curious.
In the West, 3 Suns, 2 Mavericks, Duncan, Boozer, Garnett and Kobe sound right. That's 9. Can two Nuggets make it, especially considering the trade, the suspension, and their record (7th seed in the West)? Maybe because of Yao's injury they can.

Posted by: Sean | January 25, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I still have my Miller Lite "Vote for Bernard" all-star button, pinned to the Bullets pennant hanging proudly on my office door.

Posted by: Gack | January 25, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This is really Manute. Shawn Bradley is a shrimp.

Posted by: Manute Bol | January 25, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Your office sounds like a real s _ _ t-hole, Gack.

Posted by: Steve | January 25, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Gil is starting the All Star! Well Deserved!

Posted by: jansjay | January 25, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Heh, Grillbert, that's mine. That and Nilbert (as in nil, zero, null set).

I'm very happy with Gil's selection. That's justice. Shaq should show and sit and that's about it, the fans voted, they want to see the big fella, but beyond that Josh Howard deserves the spot. It's still looking okay for EJ to coach. I'd love to see Tough Juice and the Grill gettin up and down the court, but the West has some serious size on them.

Should be a fun game this year.

-doc link

Posted by: doclinkin wizboards | January 25, 2007 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Believe me people when i say this, the Lakers team is overrated at the moment, i really don't know how Kobe is doing this but he sure is doing a nice job and has given a confidence to those youngsters like crazy. I'm a huge laker fan, i have been to 3 laker home games, last game was GSW, where we had 23 turnovers and still won the game, that's cause Kobe saw that nobody wanted to play again except Andrew Bynum, 19yr old kid, well Kobe ended up with 42 points, 8rbs, 2 assts.

Posted by: George | January 25, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Gilbert made it as a starter! I can't believe it myself, I figured all the idiots would vote in that piece of crap Vince Carter! Props to NBA fans (for once).

Posted by: George Templeton | January 25, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey Steve, why don't you go throw a cup of beer at Artest or something. Seriously, get bent.

Posted by: Gack | January 25, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

It was a joke, Gack. You should make like the Wizards on defense and relax.

Posted by: Steve | January 26, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

If I was really mad Steve I would have said something harsher than "throw a cup of beer at Artest" :)

Posted by: Gack | January 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Doc, I'm not sure if you really meant for Shaq to sit and have Howard take "the" (his?) spot. If so, he can't b/c Howard's in the West and Shaq's is East. Either case, you are absolutely right that Howard earned it this year.

Posted by: Going G.A.G.A. over Gilbert | January 26, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Dwight Howard, thanks. Slip of the brain. Shaq's a beached orca, waiting on the high tide of the postseason to become a fearsome predator again. Right now he's just a fatass.

But yeah, no doubt Josh Howard should be in this thing too. The kid is good.

Posted by: doc | January 26, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Dwight Howard, thanks. Slip of the brain. Shaq's a beached orca, waiting on the high tide of the postseason to become a fearsome predator again. Right now he's just a fatass.

But yeah, no doubt Josh Howard should be in this thing too. The kid is good.

Posted by: doc | January 26, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Dwight Howard that is. Or 'Holy!' Howard as I likes to call him.

Posted by: doclinkin | January 26, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

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