Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.
Pick an up-and-comer you’d like to see in New Orleans as a first-time All-Star.
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I cannot say Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, despite the host-city benefits, because what he does best – defend, block shots, rebound – are of marginal value in the offensively tilted All-Star Game. With that in mind, I’m going with Ricky Rubio. His slick passing would be perfect setting up West stars when Chris Paul sits down, and the Timberwolves guard would be content to go scoreless if he could rack up assists. He also puts his quick hands to use for steals, one defensive skill that doesn’t draw frowns from All-Star peers.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: How about the up-and-coming hometown kid from NOLA? It took Anthony Davis a season to really feel comfortable in the NBA, but now he’s taking off and it would be great for him to flap his big bird wings as the first Pelican in the big game.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: This is too easy, it has to be the hometown kid Anthony Davis. Behind Davis I’ve got a face-off between the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe and Portland’s Damian Lillard.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Stephen Curry. I’m not sure if qualifies as “up-and-comer” or “already there” after what he did in the playoffs and the level of respect from USA Basketball in being told he didn’t need to play at the mini-camp with other hopefuls. But Curry has not been an All-Star. That changes this season.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The answer should be Anthony Davis, though the Pelicans’ record and the depth of All-Star-caliber big men in the West could be an issue. But that he plays for the All-Star hosts shouldn’t matter. He ranks in the top 20 in scoring and the top 10 in rebounds, steals and blocks. His combination of skills, athleticism and length is unmatched and he’s taken a big step forward this season. His defense can get better (and that’s what — via his team’s record — might hurt his candidacy), but he’s certainly the best player in the league that’s never been an All-Star.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: This is a set-up question, right? I mean, Anthony Davis wouldn’t even have to pack a bag to make his first All-Star Game. The New Orleans Pelicans star has had a breakout start to this season and other than a playoff appearance, the high-water mark for him would have to be playing host during All-Star Weekend in his city. And based on the work he’s put in thus far, this wouldn’t be a hometown pick. Davis is presenting a compelling case for entry into the conversation about the best big man in the game, even if the word “big” doesn’t always apply. Make no mistake, Davis is in the process of earning his first All-Star bid if he keeps it up. As my friends from New Orleans like to say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Why not Bradley Beal? The Wizards may be underperforming expectations thus far, but Beal’s been terrific. In just his second NBA season, Beal’s averaging 20.2 points per game, leading the Wiz in scoring. I’d like to see him get to the free-throw line a little more, but he’s a dynamic offensive player who has shown visceral improvement from his rookie season.
Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I’ve already picked my All-Stars, and I included Lance Stephenson in my East starting five. Why? 13.7 points, 5.2 boards and 5.0 assists in the first 10 games. Do you remember when Larry Bird said Danny Granger should be a starter for the Pacers? Lance Stephenson was the one who was supposed to move to the bench. Instead he’s making the difference on both ends of the floor, shooting a career-best 45 percent from downtown and improving game after game.
Karan Madhok, NBA India: Considering his newfound worldwide popularity, it’s weird to remember that Stephen Curry isn’t that All Star yet. Expect that aberration to end this season. Curry is sure to be in New Orleans shooting the lights out for the Western Conference come All Star Weekend. He’s the NBA’s best shooter, en route to becoming one of the best shooters in league history, and is one of the handful of players that make you wanna put everything else in life on pause to watch him catch fire.