2014 MAMBINO NBA All-Stars

The 2013-2014 NBA All-Stars have been fully unveiled as of last night, with the reserves being named alongside the fan-voted starters. Just for those of you too lazy to punch in “NBA All-Stars” into Google, here they are:
 
Eastern Conference
 
Starters: PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland; SG Dwyane Wade, Miami; F LeBron James, Miami; F Carmelo Anthony, NYK; F Paul George, Indiana
 
Reserves: F Chris Bosh, Miami; G/F DeMar DeRozan, Toronto; C Roy Hibbert, Indiana; SG Joe Johnson, Brooklyn; PF Paul Millsap, Atlanta; C Joakim Noah, Chicago; PG John Wall, Washington
 
Western Conference
 
Starters: PG Stephen Curry, Golden State; SG Kobe Bryant, Lakers; SF Kevin Durant, OKC; PF Blake Griffin , Clippers; PF Kevin Love, Minnesota
 
Reserves: PF LaMarcus Aldridge. Portland; SG James Harden, Houston; C Dwight Howard, Houston; PG Damian Lillard, Portland; PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; PG Tony Parker, San Antonio; PG Chris Paul, Clippers
 
A great list to be sure…but not necessarily the right one.
 
The illustrious MAMBINO crew came together over the past week and threw down their All-Star picks because we’re smarter, savvier and just better than you, dammit. The following are the consensus group picks, as well as some pithy little commentary on how we reached our conclusions, including the snubbiest snubs (those that didn’t even get “snub” votes on MAMBINO). Read on!

Eastern Conference

Starters: PG Kyle Lowry, Toronto; PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland; F LeBron James, Miami; F Paul George, Indiana; C Roy Hibbert, Indiana

KOBEsh: We picked George and LeBron as starters because we watch basketball. It was pretty simple.

Hibbert made our team largely because of his defensive contributions on the league’s best team and candidacy as the seeming shoe-in for Defensive Player of the Year. It also didn’t hurt that his competition was so weak: as we’ll get into in the reserves section, Carmelo Anthony’s numbers look great, but the pungent stench emanating from the Garden kept him off of a lot of MAMBINO ballots.

Kyle Lowry made our starting lineup, despite him not even being named a reserve by the coaches on the actual roster. It’s puzzling to me considering the wealth of his achievements this season: 7th in assists, 5th in rebounds, 9th in points and 4th in minutes amongst point guards. Add to this a .437/.406/.792 shooting line that is superior to his All-Star teammate DeRozan’s (more on that later) and Toronto’s home court advantage in the standings, we had to put him not only on the team, but also in the starting line-up.

Reserves: F Chris Bosh, Miami; PF Paul Millsap, Atlanta; PG John Wall, Washington; F Carmelo Anthony, NYK; F Luol Deng, Cleveland; SG Arron Afflalo, Orlando; PG Lance Stephenson, Indiana

KOBEsh: This is where everything got tricky for us in the awful Eastern Conference. Millsap, Bosh and Wall were no-brainers, as evidenced by the coach’s picks as well. Anthony, for every bit of his whining and complete absence of leadership on a terrible Knicks team, is simply putting up too strong of scoring numbers to keep him off this MAMBINO roster.

Afflalo, Deng and Stephenson made our team despite not sniffing the real life All-Star squad, and for good reason. Any player from any team in the East (well, outside of Milwaukee), quite frankly, is worthy of consideration–after all, the 12-35 Orlando Magic are just 8 games out of the playoffs. For that reason, we had to select Afflalo. He’s scoring 20 ppg on a fantastic .470/.420/.832 shooting line for a team with very little offensive options besides him. The former UCLA Bruin is still playing good to great defense, while staying professional amidst another truly awful year in Orlando. Luol Deng too is putting up great numbers (17.9 ppg and 6.3 rpg) split on two different teams, as well as staying a consummate professional and locking down at his usual prodigious rate. Again, the East is so, so bad this year and it’s quite difficult to rationalize keeping non-playoff team members off of the All-Star roster…seeing as the 8-seed is 20-27.

Stephenson’s absence from the real life roster is truly puzzling to me. “Born Ready” is the third-best player on the team with the league’s best record, averaging 14/7/5 as a 6’5″ shooting guard! There’s no reason why he’s off the squad and guys like Joe Johnson and DeMar DeRozan actually made it. Madness!

Snubs with votes: C Joakim Noah, Chicago; SG Dwyane Wade, Miami; PF/C Spencer Hawes, Philadelphia; SG Kyle Korver, Atlanta; PG Kemba Walker, Charlotte

The CDP: As bad as the East has been this year, coming up with a list of deserving All-Stars was hard enough. It’s hard to argue that anyone was really “snubbed” from our list, but here are some of the most questionably deserving players in the East.

  • Kemba Walker: Something tells me this snub is simply because he’s in the wrong market. Al Jefferson been a great pickup for the Bobcats, but Kemba walker is the heart and soul of this team. He’s fearless, rebounds the ball surprisingly well for someone his size, and manufactures points on an offense that lacks a lot of potent scorers. Kemba was deserving of a spot in the East, but better luck next year.
  • Dwayne Wade: I’m not gonna lie, on pure lack of likability alone, I relish the fact that we left Wade off our squad. Recently, his on the court antics and press conference theatrics have made him seem like more of a WWE heel than NBA player. He’s still playing at an All-Star level – averaging 18 points and nearly 5 dimes / boards on 54% shooting. The problem is he’s just not playing enough. I understand the Heat want to save him for the playoffs, but Wade has simply missed too many games to deserve an All-Star selection.
  • Joakim Noah: I actually felt pretty bad about leaving Noah off here, who is clearly the victim of a frontcourt logjam in the East. His numbers are more or less identical to last season, which earned him his first All-Star selection. More than anything, Noah has been the one constant keeping the 2013-14 Bulls from being a complete trainwreck. Somehow, with all the injuries and Luol Deng trade, Noah and his stellar D have this team on the cusp of homecourt advantage in the first round.
  • Spencer Hawes: Hawes is having a fine season, I guess, but 14/9 on one of the league’s worst teams doesn’t really scream All-Star selection, does it?
  • Kyle Korver: Another effective role player having an elevated season, Korver has shot a blistering 46% from downtown while helping prop up a 4-seed Atlanta Hawks team that wouldn’t even be in the playoffs in the West. The fact that he’s a snub says a lot more about the state of the Eastern Conference than the All-Star ballots.

Snubbed snubs: G/F DeMar DeRozan, Toronto; SG Joe Johnson, Brooklyn; F/C Al Jefferson, Charlotte

KOBEsh: I understand why DeRozan got onto the real-life All-Star team–a damn near 22 ppg average is downright gaudy. However, he’s not even the most deserving Raptor despite having made the squad over Kyle Lowry. DeRozan is registering a relatively paltry 17.9 PER, good for 59th place amongst qualifying players. For those counting, that’s below Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol and Ryan Anderson. He’s taking three 3’s per game at a 30.8% clip and shooting just 42.8% overall. The feeling on MAMBINO was that he’s simply getting the shots now with Gay gone from T.Dot. I mean….Rudy Gay left town. I mean…what? The point is that I’m still not sure if DeRozan is genuinely helping or hurting his team more than Lowry is adding to the overall health of the team’s offense. The fact that DeMar has been an inefficient gunner for the bulk of his career is surely coloring the MAMBINO ballot.

For Johnson and Jefferson, their team’s very mediocre first halves in the horrible East contributed heavily to their absence on our squad. They are both putting up All-Star-caliber numbers, sure, but we just couldn’t fine space for them.

Western Conference

Starters: PG Stephen Curry, Golden State; SG James Harden, Houston; SF Kevin Durant, OKC; PF Kevin Love, Minnesota; PF LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland

KOBEsh: The only changes here are substituting out Kobe for James Harden (in a tight race with Lillard) and Aldridge with Griffin.

There’s no doubt that LaMarcus had to making the starting squad–he’s playing absolutely lights out basketball for one of the league’s best teams. Love remained a starter in our poll, perhaps because his numbers were simply too dazzling to neglect. Still, it was a tight race here as well, with Blake Griffin narrowly losing his spot K-Love. Griffin’s surge as of late–playing stunningly well since Chris Paul separated his shoulder–almost pushed him into the starting slot, but it was definitely too little, too late.

Subs: C Dwight Howard, Houston; PG Damian Lillard, Portland; PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas; PG Tony Parker, San Antonio; PG Chris Paul, Clippers; PF Blake Griffin , Clippers; PG Goran Dragic; PF/C Tim Duncan (injury reserve for Chris Paul)

KOBEsh: When we started this voting, we were under the impression that there was no way that CP3 would be able to playing in the mid-February game–apparently, we were wrong. Thus, for the purposes of this post, Paul has been replaced by Tim Duncan, who is somehow still playing like an All-Star at age 37.

Howard, Lillard, Nowitzki, Parker and Griffin were all academic choices with almost zero controversy. The last spot, besides Duncan’s injury exception, went to Goran Dragic, who we felt needed to be rewarded for his fantastic work on the surprising playoff contenders in  Phoenix. While guys like Conley, Thompson, Lee, Ibaka and Matthews were all very, very deserving, MAMBINO simply felt like the Suns had to be recognized in some way for blowing past their wins over/under in December.

IT’S A TEAM GAME, HATERS!

Snubs with votes: PG Mike Conley, Memphis; PF David Lee, Golden State; SG Klay Thompson, Golden State; PF/C Serge Ibaka, OKC; SG Wes Matthews, Portland

The CDP: Here’s where the decisions got tough. The West has been the center of power in the NBA for years now, but this year was just ridiculous. There was plenty of debate this year about who should be included, but there a few most questionably deserving that hurt to leave off in 2013-14.

  • Mike Conley: When Conley signed his extension, it was largely written off as a huge overpay. Few could have predicted that he would actually outperform it en route to being one of the finest points in the L. Conley has upped his scoring to over 18 a game while actually becoming a more efficient player. During Gasol’s prolonged absence, he helped keep Memphis afloat in the playoff race with his play in the clutch.
  • David Lee: An All-Star last year, Lee has continued his strong play for the Warriors in the 2013-14 campaign. While he’s still a defensive sieve, Lee’s ability to score and facilitate help keep the Warrior offense humming. Cleaning the glass to the tune of nearly 10 boards a game doesn’t hurt either.
  • Klay Thompson: The yin to Stephen Curry’s yang, Klay Thompson has increased his three point efficiency AND volume, shooting 41% on an absurd 7.3 threes a game. I have a feeling that he’ll be an All-Star sometime soon, but the West continues to be stacked against him for this year’s All-Star game.
  • Serge Ibaka: All Ibaka does is get better and grow as a player. Another year, another increase in his scoring and rebounding averages while maintaining a nasty blocks per game average. Long a ferocious rim protector, Ibaka’s growth as an offensive player and mid-range shooter make him an indispensable cog for the Thunder. I suspect that he’ll be an All-Star in 2014-15.
  • Wes Matthews: One of the lights out shooters powering the top-ranked Portland offense, Matthews does a little bit of everything for the Trailblazers. Many scoffed at the contract when Portland offered the second-round pick the full mid-level exception, but Matthews has become a reliable contributor in the Pacific Northwest. With Lillard and Aldrige already on the squad, this one doesn’t hurt too bad, but you could certainly make the case for including Matthews.

Snubbed snubs: C DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento; PG Tywon Lawson, Denver; PG Monta Ellis, Dallas; PF Zach Randolph, Memphis; SF Chandler Parsons, Houston

KOBEsh: In regards to Boogie, his team’s awful record kept him out. Statistically, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be an All-Star this year. Psychopathically, I might be ale to understand.

Lawson and Z-Bo, to a much lesser extent, faced a similar fate, but obviously on a much smaller scale in that the Nuggs are at least competitive. Their team’s records just weren’t good enough to warrant All-Stars in the hyper competitive West. Parsons and Ellis seem to be a victim of the numbers game here, as they were on the same good, but not elite team that was already rewarded with other All-Stars.

 

 

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