Love, Odom don't get nod for Western Conference team
The NBA's 2010-11 All-Star Roster is one player away from being finalized for the Feb. 20 game in Los Angeles.
The starting lineups for the East and the West are hard to argue with — save for Yao Ming who collected 1,736,728 votes despite his playing just five games in the last two seasons. Commissioner David Stern will select the replacement for any player unable to participate in the All-Star Game. If the injured player is a starter, the head coach of that team will determine who replaces him in the starting lineup.
The Western Conference All-Star starters will be Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul at the guards, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant at the forwards and a center to be announced.
Starting for the Eastern Conference are Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade at the guards, LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire at the forwards and Dwight Howard at the center spot.
Then came the announcement of the reserves Thursday night. And let the annual controversy begin.
Manu Ginobli, an MVP candidate, Russell Westbrook, one of the league's best emerging guards, Blake Griffin, the clear-cut Rookie of the Year, Dirk Nowitzki, an MVP candidate before being sidelined with an injury, and Deron Williams, Utah's do-everything guard, were named as reserves and deservedly so.
Pau Gasol is quietly among the top 20 in field goals, field goal percentage, rebounds, blocks and currently tied with Derrick Rose in player efficiency rating (23.2). But there's a feeling that Lamar Odom has been the second-best player, behind Bryant, on the Lakers during the first half of the season. To go from reserve to the role Odom has played for the two-time defending champs this season, the 12-year veteran should have earned a reserve spot from the league's coaches to play in his first-ever All-Star game.
The other glaring omission is Minnesota's Kevin Love. He currently leads the league in rebounding (15.5 per game), is 16th in scoring (21.4 per game), 10th in 3-point shooting percentage (.439) and sixth in PER (24.6). His 755 rebounds as of Feb. 4, is 90 ahead of Dwight Howard. He has 43 double-doubles this season — three more than Griffin — and has not gone without a double-double since Nov. 19 — 34 games.
Love should not be punished for Minnesota's miserable 11-37 record, and since it is a big man that Stern has to replace, there is a good chance it is Love that will get the nod.
Either Love or Odom should have earned the coaches' vote and the other the replacement spot. But since there is just one spot left, only one gets in. The spot should have been cleared up by the coaches not naming Tim Duncan as a reserve.
Duncan's minutes (29.4), field goal percentage (.481), blocks (2.0), rebounds (9.3) assists (3.0) and points per game (13.5) are all down against his career averages.
But the Spurs having the NBA's best record — 40-8 — and the equity Duncan has built up as a great player over the years got him his 13th invitation to the All-Star game.
It's just the opposite of Odom's situation. He is on the second-best team in the West and having his best year and is not named while Duncan is on the West's best team and having his worst year and does get named. Maybe if the Lakers had won a few more games or if the Spurs had not come out of the gate like gangbusters it would be the other way around. But I doubt Duncan is being kept out either way.
Griffin was going to be hard to keep out because he is an electrifying player, the first rookie to play in the All-Star game since Yao did so in 2003, and his hustle over the first half of the season earned him a chance to play his first All-Star game in his home gym — Staples Center. Westbrook joins him as the only first-time All-Stars on the court.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will coach the West team.
In the usually dull Eastern Conference there is not as much controversy.
The East's top-seeded Celtics, which have no starters on the All-Star team, saw four of their players named as reserves. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo became the seventh team in NBA history to have four players selected to the All-Star game and just the second to have all four named All-Star reserves — joining the 2006 Pistons. And since Boston has the best record in the East, its coach, Doc Rivers, will be the coach for the Eastern Conference team.
Atlanta's Joe Johnson and Al Horford were named reserves as was Miami's Chris Bosh. That gave all six teams in the Eastern Conference with winning records at least one player on the All-Star team. All 12 members of the Eastern Conference team have been named All-Stars before.
There is really no argument from any team in the East that the fan voters for the starters and the coaches' vote for the reserves missed out on anyone. There may be an argument for New York guard Raymond Felton who has logged the scond most minutes in the Eastern Conference (1,853) and is currently third in the East in assists per game (8.9) and second in the East in steals per game (1.8). But as the sixth-best team in the East and Rose, Wade and Rondo already on the roster, there was little chance for Felton to make the All-Star game.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter