Injuries Open Spots, But Picking All-Star Guards Won’t Be Easy


VIDEO: Russell Westbrook will be out until after the All-Star break

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Kobe Bryant is going to win a starting job on the Western Conference All-Star team. A second round of returns has the Lakers star well ahead in votes among the West’s legion of worthy backcourt candidates. Bryant has played in just six games and although he could return from a fractured knee in time to play in the Feb. 16 All-Star Game at New Orleans, let’s assume that he will not play.

NBA All-Star 2014Oklahoma City’s injured point guard Russell Westbrook was well on his way to a fourth consecutive selection as one of seven reserves to be picked by Western Conference coaches until Friday’s stunning announcement that he underwent a third surgery on his troubled right knee. Westbrook will not be back in time for the All-Star Game.

That leaves (potentially) two backcourt spots up for grabs.

But first, ink Chris Paul in as the starter at point guard. He’s second in fan voting and in all likelihood won’t come close to relinquishing that spot as an automatic starter. Golden State’s Stephen Curry, last season’s sympathy case as the most notable snub, is third in fan voting and should start at shooting guard.

Now comes the difficult part for the West’s coaches: There’s so many worthy point guards — just point guards — that you could select an All-Point-Guard All-Star team even without Westbrook. Check this out:

PG: Paul

SG: Curry

SF: Damian Lillard

PF: Eric Bledsoe

C: Ricky Rubio

Bench: Tony Parker, Ty LawsonMike Conley, Jrue Holiday

OK, so it takes some of imagination there, but you get the idea how deep the West is at the quarterback position. Then you’ve got the shooting guards to consider. James Harden figures to be a lock for a second consecutive selection. And what about Klay Thompson, Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic, Wesley Matthews and Jamal Crawford, who felt he got dissed last year? Even 36-year-old Manu Ginobili can make a compelling case.

There’s plenty of basketball to go before fan voting ends on Jan. 20 (the starters will be announced on Jan. 23) and until the reserves are announced soon after, so selections could become more crystallized by then. But probably not.

So of five guards to get a 2014 All-Star nod, here’s my early locks: Paul and Curry as the starters with Harden as a reserve. That leaves two spots open.

Let’s begin with the power of elimination. As strong as they’ve been, apologies to Martin, Dragic, Matthews and Crawford. Holiday was an East All-Star last year and benefited from Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose being hurt, and even though he’s a hometown Pelican, I’m not seeing it. Rubio has gone from the magician everybody wants to see up close to standing in the back of the line.

Onto the rest. This is going to be tough and there could be not one, not two, not three … but even more deserving guards taking the snub.

Here’s a brief comparison of a few of the backcourt candidates that I don’t consider to be locks (in no particular order):

>Parker, Spurs – Scoring (17.8 ppg) and assists (6.0) are down, but he’s the irreplaceable team catalyst, San Antonio is rolling and it’s hard to see him not making it

>Lillard, Blazers – As clutch as any player going, the reigning Rookie of the Year is averaging 21.1 ppg, 5.8 apg and is shooting 43.1 percent on 3s for a team that’s taken the league by storm

>Bledsoe, Suns – A fearless competitor, has meshed beautifully with Dragic while averaging 18.4 ppg, 5.9 apg, 4.3 rpg and is shooting 49.2 percent overall for arguably the most surprising team in the league

>Ellis, Mavericks – He’s turned analytics on its head, averaging an efficient 20.7 ppg — highest since 2007-08 — and 5.8 apg, and he’s as exciting swooping to the cup as anyone

>Lawson, Nuggets – He’s slowed a bit as the team has struggled recently, but still putting up 17.5 ppg, 7.9 apg and 3.4 rpg in a new, slower-tempo system

>Thompson, Warriors – The other half of the Splash Brothers, he’s scoring 19.6 ppg on 43.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc, plus 2.7 apg and 3.3 rpg.

>Conley, Grizzlies – He’s been garnering greater respect for a few seasons now and while the team has struggled, especially without fellow All-Star Marc Gasol, Conley’s averaging 17.0 ppg, a career-best, and 6.2 apg

78 Comments

  1. Just make CP3 the starter and the west will win

  2. JG says:

    NBA with its artificial stars sometimes makes me sick…What is with this hype around bledsoe? Like he is responsible for the results of PHX Suns…The biggest star in PHX is hornacek, who got ridd of some phony stars and most importantly – if you watched the phx suns games you could clearly see that with no doubt dragic is more important player for the suns that bledsoe

  3. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Believe it or not, but I’d rather have Reggie Jackson than Chris Paul. I’m glad now that the Thunder didn’t get Chris Paul during the offseason. The guy is overpaid and, possibly, a little overrated. He and his Clippers got BLOWN OUT AT HOME by Phoenix today. WOW! I know Phoenix has been playing very well … but WOW! Chris Paul apparently was enjoying the Christmas holidays a little too much.

    In today’s NBA, you slack off just slightly … and you will likely pay the price. You take entire summers off, and you will pay the price.

  4. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    No, they’ll still get 1 seed. They learned from last season’s playoffs. It won’t hurt them as much this time. When he got injured in last season’s playoffs, it came out of nowhere, and the Thunder had a to adjust on the fly.

    This season is totally different. Believe it or not but the Thunder’s bench is better, overall, than last season. Reggie Jackson has broken through big time and is ready to start at PG until Westbrook returns. Last season, he showed what he can do. Now, Reggie Jackson is breaking through big time. Jeremy Lamb is a pure shooter and, in my estimation, is the next Ray Allen. He’s THAT good. Stephen Adams is a solid 7-footer to help defend the paint. Perry Jones, in my estimation, is the next Derrick Mckey (for any old schoolers out there who know I’m talking about). :-)

    Plus, Serge Ibaka is playing better than he ever has before. He’s certainly improved from last season. He can post-up more and can use speed/quickness to dunk past you like Shawn Kemp would.

    Thunder will continue to dominate the West. When Westbrook comes back, they’ll make sure he’s ready for the playoffs. He won’t get injured like last season. Then, the Thunder will overwhelmingly dominate the NBA.

    It’s already happening before our very eyes and it will continue to happen. As hot as Portland is, OKC should still defeat them at home.

    Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb are All Stars. If they started or played more minutes, they would be putting up All Star numbers, statistically.

    Plus, one thing that could be overlooked: I believe Thabo Sefolosha was slightly injured during last season’s playoffs. He’s 100% now which bodes very well for the Thunder.

    Defense wins NBA games and, even without Russ, the OKC Thunder are one of the best defensive teams in the entire NBA. Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb and Stephen Adams are excellent defenders.

  5. FINEMEINNLBC says:

    SWAGGY P OVER HARDEN 4SHO

  6. jimbo says:

    Kobe in and Dirk out ? What the @#$&%. Is there an age limit on fan voting ? If not there should be. We are supposed to be electing those players who are having an outstanding season THIS YEAR, not 3,5, or 10 years ago. Dirk has led Dallas to several victories this season. Kobe has led the Lakers to what… 2 wins in 4 games played ?? Some might say even the games they won it wasn’t exactly a scenario of Kobe leading the team. If Kobe had any integrity he would politely decline since he has not performed at the levels we are accustomed to seeing.

  7. bryan says:

    rubio all the way!

  8. KobeFan says:

    Also Anthony Davis over Blake Griffin or Dwight any day for starters. How does AD who is probably the best defensive player and also one of the best open floor runners not starting. He can shoot as it is required in basketball. Dwight and Griffin are not as great as AD in any aspect. They can’t even shoot farther than 3ft from the basket consistently…

  9. KobeFan says:

    No offense, I’m a Kobe fan and there is no way he looks like an all star at all this year. Lillard definitely deserves it. He helped beat OKC, Spurs, Houston, Clippers and the Pacers. Let me know when an elite team does not double Lillard 80% of the time. Parker does not deserve it as much as Bledsoe… even without Parker on the team the Spurs can win without him. Put him on the Jazz and I guarantee his stats and play will be worse than ever.

  10. Foo Fighter says:

    Western All-Stars :

    Backcourt : Paul, Curry, Harden, Parker are definitely going to make it.
    Phoenix deserves an All-Star (6th best record in the West, when the season began, everybody thought they’d finish last in the West) so Bledsoe should make it.

    Frontcourt : Durant, Griffin, Howard.
    Aldridge has quietly carried the Blazers to the top of the standings. If Portland deserves an All-star, it’s him, not Lilard.
    Love’s numbers are just insane.
    Anthony Davis is having a pretty good season too.

    That leaves one spot for a Dallas player : Nowitzki or Ellis. And I think the coaches will select Nowitzki.

  11. HoopDreams says:

    West Should Be: Cp3, James Harden, KD Blake, Dwight, Bench: Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Love, Lamarcus Aldridge Reserves : Monta Ellis and Klay Thompson
    No one can make a valid argument against this

    • CptObvious says:

      How is Crawford (6th man) better than Parker (you know, the guy leading his team to the finals last year) in terms of merit? I love Crawford’s game but still, you have to credit Parker …

    • Micahb says:

      Wow lets try putting parker in over crawford. And klay thompson is not an allstar. He is just living off curry’s shine

  12. HoopDreams says:

    Jamal Crawford Is Made For The All Star Game. . and people want to see excitement in the all star game ..not slow tempo offense (tony) ..I’d rather watch bledsoe or blake Griffin dunk all night rather than tony Parker running pick and rolls with Tim Duncan or Kevin Love
    P.S – every one knows the all star game isn’t really about the “best ” players, its about who the people want to see, flashy highlight players (blake, cp3, kd) so deal with it when your old slow …but still talented players get snubbed

  13. Wez says:

    Parker should replace CP3 as a starter

  14. billybob says:

    when spots will lined with stats then we gonna have some real stuff to watch !

  15. alpha says:

    Paul, Curry, Harden, Lillard, and the next is,,, well,,, up to the coaches.
    Bledsoe, Parker, Conley, Lawson, all have a case. Not sure about Rubio yet.

    Parker is probably at the head of the pack, because of his team’s record.
    Conley and Lawson have had great seasons so far if you take a way the couple of games in which they struggled after returning from injury. But the team record hurts them.
    Bledsoe has been a great suprise, but I’m not sure if he can gather votes from coaches (just yet).

    Last spot: Parker, unless the one of the other PGs make noise going into the all-star break.

  16. asdf says:

    The biggest allstar snub this year is gonna be Nowitzki, at age 35 he is still carrying his team to wins.

    and blake griffin shouldnt be a starter! Love and aldridge owns him anyday! heck id even put nowitzki ahead of him,

  17. Alphacuz says:

    Should be Howard, Aldridge,KD,Harden,Paul. Most likely be Howard, Griffin,KD,Byrant,Paul starting 5 voted in by fans and not form.

  18. no_name says:

    WEST
    paul
    kobe(curry)
    durant
    griffin
    howard
    lilard
    parker
    harden
    nowitzki
    aldridge
    love
    ibaka

    EAST
    irving
    george
    james
    anthony
    hibbert
    wall
    wade
    teague
    bosh
    west
    drummond
    jennings

  19. Waltwilliams55 says:

    Sorry, but isiah Thomas is in this conversation if some of the other bums are

  20. djMamba says:

    CP3, Mamba, Curry, Harden and Lillard.. starters + bench.. This would be a killer back court!! If Kobe doesn’t play (I hope he does), then I’d add Parker or Bledsoe..

  21. freddy says:

    ricky rubio? B/c he is leading his team where exactly?

  22. theflowsson says:

    Lillard definitely deserves the nod after CP3 and Curry. He’s been on a tear and is a huge reason why Portland is where they are right now. How can you deny somebody who’s hit 2 game winning shots on back to back games. He is definitely big time, his defense is getting better but he has been a beast. Bledsoe definitely deserves to be there, but it becomes a question of who deserves it more based on team records and how they have been playing. At least 4 PGs deserve it more than Bledsoe, although it isn’t a knock on him as he has been playing really well.

  23. Aguero says:

    Klay Thompson is not an All star. End of discussion.

  24. ChaeI3 says:

    how is ricky rubio even considered an all-star?! take him out completely and take parker off the bench.

  25. unknown says:

    CP3 best point guard in the league and AD23 best two way power forward

  26. LA troll-ing says:

    The league should have a minimum minutes played if they are going to allow the starters to be a popularity contest. Kobe is one of the greatest ever but he doesn’t deserve to be an all-star this year. plain and simple. there are so many talented guards in the west who should get the honor this year. Paul, Curry, Lillard, Parker, Westbrook, Bled, Harden. pick a flavor you can’t really go wrong, but it is lame that anyone who hasn’t played or produced should go.

    • David says:

      Anybody that has watched more than one Suns game this year (there hasn’t been one national televised game yet, so I know it’s not many) knows that, while Bledsoe has been great, Dragic has been their best player. Bledsoe just makes more highlights reals and gets more hype because he came from “lob city” so he gets more love in articles like this. Bledsoe has more potential, but Dragic is in his prime and is the better player right now, so if either Suns guard make it, it should be him.

      • JG says:

        Agree 100% percent with you. The most responsible for PHX suns revival is hornacek who got ridd of some phony stars and their most important player is without doubt dragic…He is also fun to watch and he is creative, but unfortunately he is from slovenia so he is not interesting for nba – its just bussines

  27. splash says:

    stats mean a lot in these all star selections and parker clearly can’t compete with others on the list in terms of numbers, especially this season. i’m not saying he can’t put up those kinds of numbers it’s just the system that the spurs play in. parker is not overlooked he has been on the mvp ladder for quite some time.

  28. HeX4 says:

    I feel that the selection is way easier this year than last year, with Westbrook and Kobe (supposedly) out, Jamal Crawford (and Tony Parker, but he will be in) not being as good this year. Only real “snub” will probably be Monta, but nothing compared to what happened last year when Curry and Crawford got snubbed…

    Curry-Paul-Parker-Harden-Lillard should be the selection. Pretty short, but the frontcourt is going to be full of 7 footers.

  29. kingbld says:

    Easy:
    Chris Paul, Steph Curry, James Harden, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard. There are your west guards. If Kobe comes in, out goes Damian Lillard.

  30. S says:

    Firstly, you have got to be kidding me with your fantasy all-star pg teams!!!! to have tony parker on the bench…wth is wrong with the nba fans…dude has 3 rings is still a beast, and all you want is for him to be benched?!?!?! you have bledsoe ahead of him….idk i give up on these articles making no sense….stop discrediting the spurs’ players…aint one of yalls teams have the type of thing going on like the spurs have in the past 20 years, and all you guys do is look over them….its cool rotflol

  31. chris paul as pg and eric bledsoe as sg

  32. Riley says:

    Monta Ellis is more consistent than Lillard, the only reason Lillard will be above him is because of Portlands Record.

    Make: Paul, Curry, Parker, Ellis, Lillard
    Miss: Bledsoe, Rubio, Lawson (who has been injured), Conley (Team not winning, has been injured), Holiday (Team not winning).
    No Chance: Thompson (Poor Mans Ray Ray), Lin, Bryant (P.S. Just give up now Kobe your 37 not 30 stop having false expectations/pretensions about getting your 6th ring.)

  33. Number 13 says:

    @ the people saying Melo and Kyrie, this is an article about the West All Star team.

  34. vensou says:

    For season MVP, your team have to be on the top, why the all stars should be different.
    SO LILLARD AND PARKER

  35. The truth says:

    You don’t need an elite point guard to win a title just need a good pg , since 2000 only two point guards have won finals MVP tony Parker and chauncy bill ups , none of the elite point guards have proved they can lift a team to a title in this golden age of point guards. You just need a game manager

    • Alex says:

      It’s been about just about every other position other then the PG over the past 20+ years, other then Parker. Until a Point Guard leads his team to a championship, it’s simply the “age of exciting PG’s” not truly winning ones.

    • Sharpie says:

      Yeah, I’d sort of agree. Especially since Tim Duncan was just as valuable if not more than Tony Parker in 07. Also the 04 Pistons, every player ( Billups, RIP, Wallace, Wallace and Prince) was just as important as Chauncey. Yeah Billups made some clutch plays but it’s hard to say if that was more important than Rip running off screens and hitting jumpers, Wallace hitting 3′s, Ben guarding Shaq or Prince’s all around defense.

  36. Alex says:

    Lillard and Parker, though Bledsoe deserves it as much as anyone (just does’t have the hype of Lillard nor the winning tenor of Parker).

  37. Boston Fan says:

    why does the NBA continue to rob tony Parker??? he’s the best point guard in the league and yet they keep putting him behind Chris Paul.

  38. Roy says:

    Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry

  39. okc2014 says:

    That’s not fair if Kobe Bryant accepts his slot. Even if he hasn’t returned to playing yet? Makes no sense!!! If he and Westbrook don’t play, should be:

    Chris Paul, Curry-start
    Harden, Lillard Parker-reserves

    No Jeremy Lin, no Ricky Rubio-sorry.

    • 1234 says:

      Did garnett play like an allstar last year? HELLNO! but he still showed up. every year players are gonna get snubbed for an allstar spot, just because they arent as popular as others.

  40. HEATFAN says:

    What about K. Irving as a PG?

  41. BOJI says:

    It’s funny how he intentionally didn’t mention Lin. He’ll always be overlooked by these Americans despite the fact that he is in the top 5 of the fan votes. I am well aware that players, coaches and GMs have a say to about the votes. But which do you think is this All Star weekend for? The players, or the fans?

    • Sharpie says:

      Yeah but when the fans vote you end up getting guys like Kobe on the team. Kobe has played how many games yet he’s voted within the top 3 or 4? That’s a joke and a spit in the face to any serious basketball fan.

    • LA troll-ing says:

      Lin is not an elite guard. The article isn’t about the 300 decent players in the league its about who is deserving to be recognized as one of the top guards in the west and that fool lin with his broke chin isn’t on the list.

  42. wqasdtyujnhm, says:

    This is the golden age of Point Guards

  43. hopeman says:

    wow, give this media guy his medicine.
    sound like a kid a little too much enthousi-hype
    paul-parker– lillard.
    ok go to bed now please ( i don’t tell “be serious” because you can’t)

  44. Suriken says:

    I am a Spurs fan, but the best pointguard so far is Paul and the best shooting guard is Harden. It’s as easy as picking Howard, Love and Durant at their positions. However people like “big dunks and pressure in New York” so they would vote for Griffin and Melo.
    P.S. NBA people, please let the players vote for the best defensive player of the year and the best defensive team. Only players know it for sure.

    • dd def says:

      HAHAHAHA!!!!! sorry, harden’s good, but he needs to prove it a little more. howard is a joke, and lamarcus aldridge is the best PF bar none.

  45. Art says:

    All-Star: Paul, Curry, Parker, Harden, Lillard, Bledsoe

    Just missed: Ellis, Dragic, Lawson, Conley, Holiday

    Good joke: K.Thompson, Lin

  46. skunk says:

    well if the blazers keep up the pace then stotts would be coaching so i’d say lillard is in. curry too, some hangover from last year’s snub. harden, paul, locks. bryant, well it’s a question of can not will he make it. the other spot? i’d like to see bledsoe get it, the suns are killing it this year and he’s taken the chance and ran.

  47. JDee says:

    Excuse me ???!!! Lillard is not a lock ?? he is as much as Paul and Curry. The kid has been a beast for the Blazers, and both him and LA are All Star locks this year. Nobody anticipared that Portland would have the best record in the league by new year’s !

    • dd def says:

      well, we can also consider than pau gasol has had one of the worst seasons of his career so far and is still ahead of aldridge in votes despite the blazers winning, lakers losing, and LA just being WAY better than pau ever had a chance of being.

  48. JLin7 says:

    What about Jeremy Lin? He’s been playing better than some of the proposed pgs.

  49. Dex says:

    Why would Tony Parker be on the bench?

  50. Anthony says:

    Both Bledsoe and Lillard are very fun to watch so I’d pick them.

  51. Tim says:

    Bledsoe should not make it. Suns do it by committee and Dragic avgs the same numbers as him anyways. Conley should not make it. The Grizzlies are struggling and the numbers aren’t that great. Thompson should not make it since he’s on par with David Lee for value on the Warriors.

    Because Kobe and Westbrook are out, Curry and Harden are basically locks to make and Parker will most likely make it as well. So I say Lillard is a must and it’s a toss up between Ellis and Lawson. You’d probably have to go with Ellis but I’d be fine with Lawson as well.

  52. Chuck says:

    Tony Parker on the bench?? are you insane??

    • slider821 says:

      Rubio even on the list?? I think he is insane. If you can’t hit a midrange jumpshot to save your life, you shouldn’t be considered an all-star basketball player.

  53. Jakki says:

    Kobe not giving his spot up on the all star team even if he plays only two minutes. He loves the spot lite.

    • Witness says:

      Yea and its WRONG AS HELL if he plays in this Allstar Game. It aint a career achievement award like Chuck has been sayin for years, its whos currently All-Stars right now and that should be it.

  54. mrkcsigue says:

    Parker and Lillard