The NBA season is just about halfway over, and we'll soon find out who will represent the league in New York for the 2015 All-Star Game. Since we pretty much know who the starters for each conference will be, we talked about the reserve options in this week's FLANNS & ZILLZ. Enjoy.
ZILLER: All-Star balloting ends soon and the season is just about halfway done. It appears the voters are going to put John Wall, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol in the East starting five. I am both tickled and flummoxed at the Pau thing.
FLANNERY: When I saw the initial returns I was wondering if there was a secret cabal of Gasol brothers stuffing the ballot box. But then I looked more closely at the East and Pau has a decent case. It's not like Kevin Love has answered any of his doubters and Chris Bosh has been hurt. Honestly, why not Pau?
ZILLER: WHY NOT PAU? That's my favorite slogan of the 2015 All-Star campaign. Take notes, Mitt.
I think we can agree Melo doesn't belong here due to injury and because of how miserable the Knicks are. Wade is an interesting case. The numbers are good enough to be an All-Star, but there are better candidates for the No. 2 guard spot behind Wall. You can get three or four in as reserves. I have Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague and Kyrie Irving. I might go Derrick Rose over a fourth forward/center, though. (I ended up taking Al Horford.) What do you make of the guards?
FLANNERY: Free Hook for you: Why choosing the East All-Stars is like the Iowa caucus.
Please don't forget Kemba Walker. He's been amazing the last few weeks. I've got no problems with Lowry, Kyrie, Wall, Teague and Kemba but only on the stipulation that all five play at least three minutes together at some point during the game. Make sure that Jimmy Butler is in there and that's all I really care about in the East. I also wouldn't mind seeing Kyle Korver in there, to be honest.
If fans want to vote in Melo or D-Wade or anybody else, that's fine, too. It's not like there's a convincing case to be made for any of these guys. You can argue for a dozen other guys, which doesn't mean a dozen other guys are worthy. Slightly different problem in the West though.
ZILLER: Yes, the West, momentarily.
I think the shallow East big man ranks this season helps us with the guards. Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap are musts for me, and I have room for Korver if I leave Kemba out, which I will regretfully do. I embrace any chance to recognize a superstar specialist. I'm also fudging Butler into SF for All-Star purposes. He'd be okay at PF, probably.
My tough cuts are Bosh (injury) and Love (yikes), which says a lot about the fates of Miami and Cleveland. I'm also staying with one Wizard and one Raptor. And let's let Stan Van Gundy coach the team out of respect for the ballsy Josh Smith cut.
FLANNERY: The guard problem is a serious issue. Jimmy Butler is technically a guard and so is Korver. I'm giving up the ghost on the league's best shooter, but I hate having to pick and choose among the point guards. Lowry has to be in there, but if we take Butler as a guard that only gives us two more reserve spots. I'm fine making them all point guards but how do you choose among Irving, Teague and Walker? Somebody's going to get screwed.
ZILLER: Let's move West. The voters are going to give us Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant. I'm thrilled with the frontcourt selection, and if I'm going to be honest I don't really have much of a problem with Kobe as an All-Star on its face. I only get frustrated when I realize who gets left out because of him.
FLANNERY: Sure, but that's the nature of having a popular vote. I'm not sure why people struggle with this so much. And you make a great point: the people voted for AD and Marc Gasol. They voted for Stephen Curry. James Harden is a strong third. The people are paying attention. So they voted for Kobe, who happens to be the most famous and charismatic player in the league today. What a bunch of lemmings.
So who ya got?
ZILLER: James Harden is a must, and I think Kevin Durant needs to be in there because by the time All-Star rolls around he'll have plenty of games under his belt. DeMarcus Cousins is in. Chris Paul is in. Russell Westbrook is in. I personally can't justify leaving out Damian Lillard. With the final spot, I go LaMarcus Aldridge over Klay Thompson, Dwight Howard, Mike Conley, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki.
We could build two solid West All-Star teams, couldn't we? Who do you have?
FLANNERY: The OKC guys are the big question just because of the injuries, but you make a good point that they'll have enough games by that point. Harden, CP3, Aldridge, Cousins and Lillard are no-brainers for me. Westbrook too. Let's be real about Durant: he's one of the top two or three players in the world. He has to be in there.
I don't like leaving off Dwight or Klay, but that's the Kobe Tax. The guy I really hate to leave off is Mike Conley. I've written a number of times that he's this generation's Derek Harper, who became famous for improving his scoring every year and then became famous for never making the All-Star team. That's really unfair but I don't think he should bump Russell or Dame. As for Dirk and Duncan, they have not had All-Star years. Dirk, especially. So I don't feel that bad leaving them off.
Under normal circumstances they all get in. Why do we have conferences again?
FLANNS & ZILLZ ALL-STAR PICKS
|G||John Wall||John Wall|
|G||Dwyane Wade||Dwyane Wade|
|F||LeBron James||LeBron James|
|F||Carmelo Anthony||Carmelo Anthony|
|F||Pau Gasol||Pau Gasol|
|G||Kyle Lowry||Kyle Lowry|
|G||Kyrie Irving||Kyrie Irving|
|F||Jimmy Butler||Jimmy Butler|
|F||Paul Millsap||Paul Millsap|
|F||Al Horford||Al Horford|
|Wild||Jeff Teague||Chris Bosh|
|Wild||Kyle Korver||Kemba Walker|
|G||Stephen Curry||Stephen Curry|
|G||Kobe Bryant||Kobe Bryant|
|F||Blake Griffin||Blake Griffin|
|F||Anthony Davis||Anthony Davis|
|F||Marc Gasol||Marc Gasol|
|G||Chris Paul||Chris Paul|
|G||James Harden||James Harden|
|F||Kevin Durant||Kevin Durant|
|F||LaMarcus Aldridge||LaMarcus Aldridge|
|F||DeMarcus Cousins||DeMarcus Cousins|
|Wild||Russell Westbrook||Russell Westbrook|
|Wild||Damian Lillard||Damian Lillard|