Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 NBA West All-Star Roster

The starters
PG Chris Paul (26.8 PER)
Still the best point guard in the game, CP3 leads the NBA in steals and assist/turnover ratio. He also ranks second behind the fallen Rajon Rondo in assists per game.

SG Kobe Bryant (22.5 PER)
With his star-studded Lakers floundering, Bryant has continued to do what he's always done best in times of crisis; take lots of shots and score lots of points. No one has jacked up more shots than Kobe this season, but to be fair he's posting the best Effective Field Goal percentage of his career and highest True Shooting percentage since his MVP campaign. The Black Mamba hasn't completed ignored his teammates either, as his 5.6 assists per game would be his highest average since 2004-2005. Incredibly, the 34 year-old has yet to miss a game and clocked more minutes than anyone else this season. The Lakers have been a massive disappointment this year, but it's not Bryant's fault.

SF Kevin Durant (29.2 PER)
The NBA's top scorer is eyeing his fourth straight scoring title while enjoying a historic season in terms of efficiency. He's shooting 51.9 percent from the floor, 42.7 percent from downtown and a league best 90.7 percent from the charity stripe (Steve Nash is the only other player averaging 50-40-90, but is doing so in far fewer attempts). A lethal combination of volume and accuracy, Durant is the sport's most dangerous scorer. He's also turned himself into a good defender, solid rebounder and better passer. If anyone's going to deny LeBron James his fourth MVP award this year, it's KD.

PF Blake Griffin (23.4 PER)
BG's made subtle improvements in his game this season to put some polish on his raw athletic ability. The third-year power forward has become a more complete player by making strides in his defense, passing, and free-throw shooting. His midrange game still needs some work, though.

C Dwight Howard (19.2 PER)
Though Howard's season has been a disappointment by his standards, he's still pacing the Association in boards per game and providing strong defense. It's troubling that his free throw percentage, which used to hover around 60 percent, has dipped below 50 percent this year (and last). The Shaquille O'Neal comparisons don't seem so far off base.

The reserves
PG Tony Parker (24.5 PER)
Parker seems to fly under the radar despite his status as one of the top point guards in the game. He's averaging 20.8 points per game with phenomenal percentages--53.6 from the field, 39.3 from downtown and 83 from the charity stripe--while guiding the San Antonio Spurs to the best record at the break (without much help from Manu Ginobili).

PG Russell Westbrook (23.0 PER)
Though Westbrook takes a lot of heat for being a shoot-first, pass-later point guard, he's piled up more assists than any player besides Greivis Vasquez while bumping his assist percentage from 29.8 percent last year to an even 40 percent this season. However, Westbrook still takes too many dumb shots and there is no reasonable explanation to justify why he jacks up more shots than teammate Kevin Durant. In fact, Westbrook pulls the trigger more often than almost everyone else; Bryant is the only player with more field goal attempts.

SG James Harden (23.3 PER)
No longer the third wheel to Durant and Westbrook, Harden has been unleashed in Houston where he's the focal point of the Rockets' offense. A fearless attacker, the first time All-Star leads the NBA in fast break points as well as free throws made and attempted. He also leads the league in turnovers, but I think that he's handled the ball more than anticipated with Jeremy Lin struggles.

PF David Lee (19.3 PER)
Lee might not be the most exciting player around, but he puts up great numbers with remarkable consistency. A nightly double-double threat (33 on the year), Lee's averaging 19 points and 10.8 rebounds per game while shooting better than 51 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line. Players like Lee who flourish on offense but don't add much on the other end are perfect fits for the All-Star Game's style.

PF Zach Randolph (18.3 PER)
Z-Bo is a double-double machine (30 so far this year) with his averages of 15.6 points and 11.5 boards per game. He's grabbed more offensive rebounds than any player not named Tyson Chandler, and Omer Asik and Nikola Vucevic are the only players with more total rebounds. He also leads the league in second chance points. That being said, I think Marc Gasol--Randolph's partner-in-crime in the Grizzlies' frontcourt--is a better player and more worthy of this All-Star spot.

PF LaMarcus Aldridge (20.2 PER)
Another terrific season for the always underrated Aldridge, who's fashioned himself as one of the best midrange shooters in the game. His game/skill set reminds me of Chris Bosh before Bosh joined forces with James and Dwyane Wade in Miami.

C Tim Duncan (24.9 PER)
The Big Fundamental has turned back the clock this season, re-establishing himself as one of the NBA's top defenders in addition to providing his steady consistency and efficiency.

My Prediction; the West will beat the East by 8. Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference and's HangTime Blog

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