HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With just a week to go before the starters for the 2012 All-Star Game are announced, it’s time to turn our attention to the rest of the team.
There are seven other spots on each team that have to be filled. And that’s where we begin with the first Hang Time All-Star Debate of this season.
With Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul all but locks for the starting nods in the Western Conference and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook an absolute lock for one of the coach’s picks, we’ve got an old school vs. new school dilemma for the other reserve spot.
Tony Parker of the Spurs or Kyle Lowry of the Rockets?
Parker has assumed even more responsibility than usual for the Spurs while Manu Ginobili remains sidelined with a broken hand. But it’s nothing new for the still, cat-quick Parker, who has cranked it up recently, averaging 21.6 points, 10.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in the last five games for a crew that is almost invincible (10-1) on its home floor but a shell of itself away from the AT&T Center (2-6).
Serving as the Spurs’ catalyst without Ginobili in the lineup and Tim Duncan operating at a diminished capacity, Parker has been forced into a more prominent role in the past few seasons. The Spurs remain a factor in the Western Conference race this season behind the work of Parker (and the usual deep crop of worker bees that always populate the roster).
Keep in mind that Parker has only been an All-Star three times (2006, ’07 and ’09), which says more about the guard depth in the Western Conference during his decade in the league than it does about his performance. Parker’s season averages of 17.6 points, 8.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds are by no means the best he’s put up, but are in line with what he’s done in each of the past two seasons.
Lowry, on the other hand, is having a career year across the board for one of the hottest teams in the league. Houston had won seven straight before last night’s loss to Milwaukee and the Rockets have wins in eight of their last 10 games.
Lowry is averaging 15.9 points, 8.8 assists and 6.9 rebounds and recorded the second triple-double (16 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds) of his career in a win over Minnesota Monday night, where he outplayed celebrated Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio.
On a team rocked early on by a three-team trade possibility that ended up not happening, Lowry has been a steadying force for a team that has rebounded from that choppy start to dig into the playoff mix. Built like a linebacker and with a feisty streak that would make any NFL defender proud, Lowry plays with the sort of reckless abandon that fans of any team love to see.
He missed back-to-back chances for faceoffs against Westbrook with a right foot injury, both tightly-contested games the Rockets lost with Goran Dragic filling in for Lowry, who has averaged 12.2 points, 8.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds in the Rockets’ last five games (4-1).
The Bottom Line: While Lowry isn’t the scorer Parker is and probably never will be, he’s having a fantastic season and is shoving his way into a talented and crowded field of new-school point guards around the league. Parker picks up points for consistency and the fact that the Spurs, as always, find their way into the mix among the best teams in the Western Conference and the league.
As much as we love Lowry’s style, we’re going old school over new school on this one … Parker gets our vote!