Friday, February 10, 2012

NBA East All-Star Roster

A look at the dozen players selected to the 2012 NBA East's All-Star squad.

The Starters/No-brainers
PG Derrick Rose-The reigning Most Valuable Player has lost a few points off his 2011 scoring average, but who hasn't?  All his other numbers are on par with last season's and he picked up right where he left off, making D-Rose an easy selection to start the game in spite of the massive depth at the poing guard position.  Just don't expect him to take home another MVP trophy this year.

SG Dwyane Wade-His scoring and shot attempts have dipped for the third straight year, but no one expects him to drop 30 a night with Bosh and James flanking him.  He's stopped taking three-pointers altogether, a wise choice given his subpar 29 percent career rate, but has yet to drill even one shot from downtown thus far.  Surprisingly his field goal percentage has dropped from 50 percent to 47.5 percent.  That's still a great number, obviously, and D-Wade's been banged up (as always), so I think we can cut him some slack.

SF Carmelo Anthony-His scoring (22.3 points per game) is down for the second straight year, but that's more a product of his career low 40 percent success rate from the field, including just 30 percent from beyond the arc.  His rebounding is down too, but he's compensating by dishing out a career high 4.2 dimes per game for a team that lacks a true point guard.  He's been dinged up lately and is currently out with a groin injury, so he should start playing better when he, along with sidekick Amare Stoudemire, returns to health.

PF LeBron James-Enjoying perhaps the best season of his stellar career, an even more impressive feat given the league-wide decline in offense due to the lockout.  King James improved his post game this past offseason and has cut his three-point attempts in half, and as a result his field goal percentage has spiked to a career high 54.6 percent.  The only blemish on his record is a career high turnover rate, but I doubt that will stop him from making a serious run at his third MVP award in four years. We all know Bron Bron is a a small forward by trade, but his unparalleled strength and 6'8, 240 pound frame make him a more natural 4 than 'Melo.  He'll be guarding Blake Griffin in a showdown of arguably the two most athletic players in the game.

C Dwight Howard-He's following the Carmelo Anthony "Melodrama" blueprint that forced Denver to ship their marquee player to the East Coast last winter.  Daily trade rumors and media speculation? Check.  Monster stats (he already has six 20/20 games this season!) despite uninspired play/lack of effort? Check.  Dragging a decent team down with a negative attitude and selfish play? Check.  Mix ingredients, place in oven, and remove halfway through the baking process, and you've created a messy, nasty, gooey diarrhea-inducing situation.  The sooner Orlando can deal their pouting superstar, the better.

The Reserves
PG Deron Williams-D-Will has been forced to carry more of an offensive load with Brook Lopez on the shelf, so it's no surprise that he's averaging a career hgh in points per game, field goal attempts, three point attempts, and turnovers while watching his assist total and field goal percentage plunge.  Has developed into more of a volume shooter a la Brandon Jennings, which means he's not as good/efficient as he was in Utah under Jerry Sloan, but regardless he remains an elite player capable of 20/10 production on a nightly basis.

SG Joe Johnson-Continues to underperform his max contract considering his numbers mirror those of players like Granger and Pierce, but is still the best offensive shooting guard (a surprisingly thin position these days) in the Eastern Conference not named Wade.  His three point stroke has rebounded from last year's abysmal 30 percent clip, but his overall field goal percentage and assist rate are down again.  Even with Al Horford likely out for the season with a pectoral tear, Atlanta still has enough weapons so that Johnson seems unlikely to reach the 20 points per game benchmark he eclipsed in the five previous seasons before last year.

SG/SF Andre Iguodala-Iggy has reinvented himself during the past season-plus in Philly.  He's embraced the role of point forward on the league's deepest team, allowing his scoring average that missed 20 ppg by a hair in 2007-'08 to tumble to a pedestrian thirteen points per game this year.  His efficiency hasn't improved, but he spreads the ball around to capable scorers in Louis Williams, Jrue Holiday, an on-the-rise Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, the "Jodiac Killer" Jodie Meeks, a fading Elton Brand and an improving Evan Turner.  His stats don't leap off the page, but he's one of those guys who plays a lot better than the numbers in the box score indicate.  The versatile Iguodala is still one of the top perimeter defenders in the Association, though, and few two-guards can provide his combination of passing, rebounding, scoring, defense, and athleticism that makes him a consistent triple-double threat.

SF Luol Deng-The first time All-Star will always be the Robin to Rose's Batman in Chicago, or perhaps more appropriately, Pippen to Rose's Jordan.  He does a little bit of everything in that he scores, hits threes, plays tough defense and puts up good rebound and assist numbers for a small forward.  I feel like he got in because Chicago has such a big market and great team; from a numbers standpoint I think Josh Smith and Danny Granger are more deserving. 

SF Paul Pierce-After a sluggish start for both him and the Celtics, the Captain has recovered from his nagging heel injury, turned his (and the team's) season around and resumed putting up his typical across the board production.  When sparkplug Rajon Rondo missed eight games, Pierce was the one who stepped up as the facilitator on offense and the C's didn't skip a beat.  The Truth is the only Beantown representative this year with Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen failing to make the cut.  On Tuesday night against the Bobcats he passed Larry Bird for second place on Boston's all-time scoring list, but he's still a a couple seasons and few thousand points away from topping John Havlicek.

PF Chris Bosh-He'll always be the third wheel in Miami, but he really stepped up his game when Wade went down.  Interestingly, while Wade and James have stopped jacking up treys, Bosh has nearly doubled his career rate by popping one per game.  He's only making 28 percent of them, but someone has to take 'em, right? (looking nervously at Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller).  Bosh's numbers are nearly identical to last season's, but the general consensus is that he's fitting in more this year and has grown comfortable in his new role.  His numbers will never return to the gaudy totals he reached with Toronto, but he should be able to improve his rebounding (currently less than eight boards per game) and get it up near the double digits.

C Roy Hibbert-The 25 year-old former Hoya has finally sustained the potential that he flashed for stretches last year before undermining them with streaks of mediocrity.  He's averaging career highs in numerous categories and has quietly settled in as one of the better centers in the conference behind D-Ho, along with Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Javalee McGee.  While Hibbert is having a fantastic under the radar season for a surprisingly good Pacers squad, I think Greg Monroe got screwed here.  GM doesn't get much ink playing for a bad Pistons team, but he has taken over as the best basketball player in Motown and is better than Hibbert in almost every area except for blocked shots.  If you put Monroe on the Pacers and Hibbert on the Pistons, I'm betting that Monroe makes the team and Hibbert doesn't.

Look for the Western Conference's roster analysis tomorrow.

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