Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
What player do you see breaking out of a mostly unimpressive first half to be a second half All-Star?
Steve Aschburner: Derrick Rose. The Chicago Bulls point guard has played well when he’s played, but missing nine games out of the first 32 his team played limited Rose’s impact and certainly kept him out of most MVP conversations. If he can stay relatively healthy from here, he’ll be able to mount a proper defense of that title — he’s shooting better (.46.1 percent) with a higher PER (24.7) than ever — and he might benefit from the lighter wear ‘n’ tear to the break.
Fran Blinebury: Kevin Garnett. Call it a hunch. Label it a gut feeling. I still think the noisy one will make himself heard before it’s over.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Jeremy Lin. The guy barely played the first half of the season. And besides, it’s been five minutes since someone mentioned his name. For real? Lamar Odom. I don’t know about second-half All-Star, but he will go from your required unimpressive opening to a finish of valuable contribution to Dallas’ title defense. He’s too good to be this invisible the entire season.
Shaun Powell: Steph Curry hasn’t been a disaster or anything close to that with the Warriors, but he’s better than this. Limited by a bum ankle, his mobility was squeezed over the first few months but over the last few weeks we’ve seen more glimpses of his potential. He’s capable of averaging 20 a game and shooting 40 percent on threes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did both between now and late April. Not that anyone would notice; he plays for the Warriors, remember.
John Schuhmann: I assume we want a non-All-Star here. So I’ll pick Arron Afflalo, who’s been a disappointment this season. He’s shooting 42 percent from the field (down from 50 percent) and 35 percent from 3-point range (down from 42 percent), and he’s got the worst plus-minus on the Nuggets. They’re in danger of losing their playoff spot and I think Afflalo can get them back into the hunt for a top four or five seed with a strong second half.
Sekou Smith: How about a player breaking out of an early slump and turning into a second half MVP? Dirk Nowitzki has already begun that transition. He admitted that he didn’t come back at the start of this season the way he finished the last one, as the most lethal and best clutch player in the game. But he took a little time off to get himself together and has been on a tear ever since, as have his Mavericks. In 14 January games Nowitzki averaged a pedestrian (by his standards) 15.1 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor and putrid 21 percent from deep. Through the first 11 games of this month he averaged 23.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 36 percent from long distance.