- The Season's Over -

ETB’s ’08 Western Conference All-Star Team

January 24, 2008

Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Kobe Bryant
Amare Stoudemire, Melo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Kobe Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The ballots are in, and the NBA will announce the official starters for the 2008 All Star Game in New Orleans today. More importantly, ETB unveils the real All Star rosters.

The ones we hand picked…

Western Conference Starters:

Andrew’s Picks:

Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Forward: Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
Ccenter: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

I’m going to get crucified for this, but I think Chris Paul is a better point guard than Steve Nash. Nash is a great player, but he’s one of the worst defensive players in the league and plays in one of the best offenses. Chris Paul is the complete package: tremendous quickness, great defense, an excellent distributor and a more-than-capable scorer. The numbers speak for themselves: 21.1 points, 10.5 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.8 boards on 48.9% FGs, 88.4%FTs and a 3.9 A/TO ratio. Plus, it’s in his gym… Simply put, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player on the planet. And this is one of his most impressive seasons yet, as he’s been less selfish, more of a leader and taken the youthful Lake Show to 15 games over .500 in the process… After a slow start, Dirk Nowitzki has regained his MVP-season form. Say what you will about the collapse last season, but 22.1 points, 8.4 boards and 3.8 assists on 48.3% FGs and 86.2% FTs are All-Star numbers… Carlos Boozer gets the nod here because Tim Duncan is having a quiet season by Duncan standards, and Boozer has been simply fantastic. Utah has struggled of late, but Boozer has hit the glass hard all year and developed into one of the league’s best scoring big men… Why fight it? Yao Ming is going to start every year, but I think he deserves to this time. In my mind Yao and Dwight are the two best centers in the league, and Yao has a lot more polish. He’s become a leader on the court this season with (more) McGrady injuries, and posting another stellar line of 22.3 points, 10.7 boards, 2.4 assists, 2.3 blocks while shooting 50.5% FGs and an impressive 84.9% FTs.

Brian’s starters, and our respective choices as reserves, after the jump…

Brian’s Picks:

Guard: Allen Iverson, Denver Nuggets
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Center: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

I know I’m in a very small camp of writers that would pick Allen Iverson over Steve Nash and Chris Paul as a Western starter, but as much as Paul has taken his game to another level, and as much as Nash has been, well, Nash, A.I. has done everything expected of him in Denver and more. Make no mistake–this is Iverson’s team, not Carmelo’s (yet), and despite being banged around more than Tara Reid on vacation, the 12-year vet is showing absolutely no signs of slowing down… His scoring, shooting percentage, and assists are all down compared to last year, and yet Kobe Bryant is having one of his finest seasons yet. Now 29-years-old, Bryant’s maturity, leadership skills, and willingness to share the ball are at an all-time high… As a team, the Jazz haven’t yet taken the huge step forward most expected they would this season, but Carlos Boozer has emerged as one of the best all-around big men in the NBA. I’m a sucker for that smooth, effortless jump shot of his from the elbow and top of the key–and overall he’s flat-out shooting the lights out (54.6% on over 17 shots/per)… There’s a few reasons why Timmy Duncan should be bumped out of the starting lineup, but just as many for keeping him in. After a somewhat slow start, he’s averaged 21.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 3.2 blocked shots, and 50% FG over his last five, and still has plenty of time to no only equal but exceed his numbers from 2006/07… You and I both know that regardless of his play, Yao Ming is going to be voted an All-Star Game starter until the day he retires. For now, he’s completely deserving of the honor.


Western Conference Bench:

Andrew’s Picks:

Guard: Allen Iverson, Denver Nuggets
Guard: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Guard: Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors
Guard: Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers
Forward: Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Forward: Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Center: Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
Center: Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers*

Guards

While Allen Iverson may not reach the NBA Finals again while in Denver, this has been the finest individual season of his career. Always a bit of a chucker in Philly, AI has adapted to being a co-leader with Carmelo swimmingly. He’s shooting a career-high 46% FGs, has cut down on turnovers, is shooting less but scoring nearly as much and still playing great D and getting into passing lanes… Yeah, I’m not as big of a Steve Nash fan as most, but the dude is without question an All Star. He leads the NBA in assists and shoots remarkable percentages, including 47.2% on three-pointersBaron Davis is an ETB favorite and an absolute bull on offense. He can get his shot any time he wants, but still drops 8.1 dimes a game. For my money, this year has the makings of his best season to date… Portland is suddenly one of the best teams in the league, and Brandon Roy is the reason why. He’s a scorer, a distributor, a clutch and heady player, a ball-handler and a solid defender–all of that in his sophomore campaign.

Baron Davis, All-Star
Baron Davis Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Forwards/Centers

There’s chaos on Beale Street right now, but Rudy Gay is the best player of a promising young core. He’s proving this season that he can score in every possible way at the NBA level. He’s also a plus defender and one of the nastiest dunkers in the league… Boring, I know. But it’s not an All-Star Game without Tim Duncan, still the gold standard for consistency in the post on both ends of the floor… I really, really wanted to go with Chris Kaman to acknowledge the tremendous season he’s having in LA. It came down to three things though: I would still rather have Amare Stoudemire on my team, Amare’s team is far superior and Amare has a better combination of athleticism and basketball skills… If Andrew Bynum had been healthy he would have made the Amare vs. Kaman debate moot. He was that impressive in December before going down. If the 20-year-old Bynum continues to improve at this rate, he could be better than Dwight Howard by the end of next season.

Brian’s Picks:

Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Guard: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Guard: Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Forward: David West, New Orleans Hornets
Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Center: Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers

Guards

Obviously, CP3 is one of if not the premier point guard under 25 years old, and certainly one of the NBA’s best, period. As of January 24, his Hornets are in first place in the highly competitive Southwest Division–that’s right, they have a better record than the Spurs, Mavericks, and Rockets–despite very little bench production. That success can be traced back to the beastial Tyson Chandler, the fluid David West (below), but most of all to Mr. Chris Paul… Steve Nash still doesn’t place defense, but I’ll issue a free pass on that major (only?) shortcoming of his game since he grew up in Canada. Oh, zing!… Mr. Thell did a fantabulous job of spelling out why Brandon Roy is an ETB All Star above, so instead of stealing from his description, I’ll steal a thought he shared with me this afternoon concerning Roy, Randy Foye, and Minnesota Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale (Roy and Foye were of course swapped in a draft-day deal last year). Sayeth Thell: “If Foye doesn’t at least impress somewhat down the stretch, McHale should agree to eat a turd at center court at halftime of the final T’Wolves game at the Target Center this year.” I, and probably most T’Wolves fans, wholeheartedly agree.

Forwards/Centers

It’ll take nothing less than a NBA Title for me to have postseason faith in Dirk Nowitzki again (I know, that’s just so unfair), but this honor is all about the regular season, and he’s on pace to replicate his MVP production of last year… The unheralded David West (featured here) has been one of the most reliable big men in the league for the past three seasons now. Others are putting up slightly beefier numbers, but his team is one of the NBA’s very best in the early going and these stats are nothing to sneeze at: 19.5 points, 9.3 boards, 1.3 blocks, and 47% FG… Because I don’t especially enjoy his game and don’t think he’s an especially exciting player, I came this close to leaving Carmelo Anthony off my roster. This isn’t a beauty pageant, however, and Anthony’s the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 25.5/per and admirably swallowed his pride when A.I. came to town and has shared the Mile High spotlight without incident… I understand why Andrew picked Amare Stoudemire–and Andrew Bynum–over Chris Kaman as his reserve, and truth be told he’s probably right. But the man has been asked to shoulder a massive load in the post with Elton Brand injured, and he’s responded in ways very few thought possible. I know–his team sucks. I mean, they’re no fun to watch at all. But Kaman’s 17.4 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks a night are mega-massive and all career highs by far. And he’s recorded a double-double in 29 of the Clips’ first 38 contests.

*Bynum will not participate due to injury, and a replacement has been selected

1 Comment »Posted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jan. 24, 2008 at 4:38 pm in ETB Articles, NBA

One Response

“If Foye doesn’t at least impress somewhat down the stretch, McHale should agree to eat a turd at center court at halftime of the final T’Wolves game at the Target Center this year.”

“Hmm, that turd-eating prize sounds mighty tempting, Monty, but… I think I’ll go with what’s behind Door #2.”

“Alright, here’s your prize… Kevin McHale will agree to pack his bags and move to Boston, where he’ll finally get paid for his real job as Danny Ainge’s assistant!”

“Oh, wow! It’s just what I always wanted!”

Posted by: Jeremy on January 25th, 2008 at 11:44 am

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