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Rudolph's All-Star Reserves

The process of picking the best players for the All-Star Game should be an easy task. The fans help by selecting the starters and it’s up to the coaches to pick the other 14 worthy guys. However, once you get into the process, you see how tough making the selections can be. The idea of a player like Jamal Crawford making the team over Stephen Curry has already created heated debates, just one of many that will take place over the next few days.

Allow me to contribute to the many arguments.

My logic when making my selections is I have a structured criterion that I follow to help separate the players. I’m confident that it’s not much different than other writers, but still important to understand.

I look at the individual statistics of a player. Stats count a lot, but don’t tell the full story of the season and don’t solely make a player eligible. We’ve seen guys with great stats snubbed many times.

I look at the success a player’s team is having; winning matters. I understand a team isn’t necessarily losing because of a guy, but if he’s putting up great numbers on a losing team, well, they’re not winning because of him either.

I also look at a player’s contributions to a team. Not everyone is a numbers guy and their contributions can’t be measured fairly by doing a side-by-side comparison of their stats.

Here are my All-Star picks:

Eastern Conference

Backcourt: Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets) and Jrue Holiday (Philadelphia 76ers)

Johnson, in my opinion, was an easy choice. He’s the second-best shooting guard and on one of the best teams in the conference. He’s rebounded well after a slow start and been the Nets’ best perimeter player. Many people would have picked Kyrie Irving over Johnson, but I believe the records count and wouldn’t have felt right rewarding two guards that are playing for losing teams. Irving’s time will come.

While Irving scores more, and is a more celebrated player, Holiday’s assists and team wins make this choice, while unpopular, the right one to make. If we’re all honest, the big reason many people are going with Irving is because he’s a bigger name than Holiday.

Frontcourt: Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks) and Brook Lopez (Brooklyn Nets)

Noah has been Mr. Everything for the Bulls. While Tom Thibodeau is the real All-Star for Chicago, Noah has been the guy fueling the on-court product, a well deserved All-Star berth that speaks to a player who supplies his team with contributions that extend beyond numbers.

Smith has been the Hawks’ best player. Many people thought this team would crumble after Johnson was traded. Many thought Smith would ask for a trade by this point of the season. He’s done neither. Smith has stepped up as a leader for the Hawks and has them headed back to the playoffs.

Lopez, or Captain Planet as I’ve called him, has been the Nets’ best player. He’s by far the best center in the Eastern Conference and a no-brainer as an All-Star; the easiest of all the players to pick.

Wild card: Paul George (Indiana Pacers) and Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks)

George doesn’t yet have the name recognition of the other All-Stars, but he’s stepped up and led the Pacers in place of Danny Granger. George is an easy selection as an All-Star.

Chandler is the Knicks’ most important player. He makes their defense work while finding and capitalizing on second-chance offensive opportunities. His importance can’t be measured by numbers, but certainly can be rewarded with an All-Star selection.

What I think will happen: Chris Bosh (Miami Heat) will be selected in favor of Smith. Irving will be selected in favor of Johnson.

Western Conference

Backcourt: Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and James Harden (Houston Rockets)

The selection of Westbrook and Harden are both obvious.

They are integral parts of their respective teams and both post impressive numbers. Harden’s play has his Rockets in position to make the playoffs, while Westbrook hasn’t allowed the loss of the high-scoring Harden to hurt the play of the Thunder.

Frontcourt: Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs), LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers) and David Lee (Golden State Warriors).

In year 15, Duncan is still one of the league’s best forwards and a big reason the Spurs are one the league’s best teams. 

Picking Aldridge was a bit of challenge, especially after I looked back and noticed that I didn’t have any Grizzlies on the team. Ultimately, for me, it came down to the 27-year-old forward having better numbers than Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies) while keeping the young Blazers in the playoff hunt with less help.

Lee is a double-double guy that has helped turn the Warriors into a team poised to make the playoffs. 

Wild card: Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs) and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)

Parker actually should have been one of the primary picks and not a wild card. He’s a model of consistency and the catalyst to the Spurs’ success.

Curry was an easy pick though leaving Jamal Crawford (Los Angeles Clippers) was tough. The 24-year-old guard has the Warriors paced for a trip to the playoffs, something that seemed unlikely after the team traded away Monta Ellis.

What I think will happen: Randolph will be selected in favor of one of Aldridge. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) gets the spot.

 

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