By: Rossy Pasternak
NBA Chatter is SportsNak’s weekly NBA feature, discussing the past week’s hottest topics in the association. Look for new editions every Sunday/Monday to get your basketball fix!
Welcome back to another edition of NBA Chatter on SportsNak. This week, we put together what we think the All-Star rosters would look like if fan-voting didn’t exist, for the Western Conference. To view our Eastern Conference choices, click here. Here we go.
PG: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: 29.9 pts, 6.5 ast, 5.3 reb, 2.1 stl
- Best player in the game right now, reigning MVP, and changed the way basketball is supposed to be played. Steph deserves this recognition.
SG: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: 24 pts, 9.8 ast, 7.1 reb, 2.5 stl
- In my opinion, the debate of whose team the Thunder are is finished. Russell Westbrook propels the team to a whole other level when he is on the court. He does everything, from scoring, passing, and rebounding, to having one of the best pregame handshakes in the league. Averaging nearly a double-double, and only three rebounds away from a triple-double, Westbrook does everything on the court, and more. His 2.5 steals per game, and total of 110, lead the league. The one knock that could be said about Westbrook is his 3-point shooting. Westbrook is only shooting 29% from beyond the arc. Westbrook, even without a 3-point shot, has been able to be one of the best scorers, passers, and rebounders in the league. For a game meant to showcase individual talent, a player like Westbrook is perfect.
SF: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: 20.1 pts, 2.6 ast, 6.9 reb, 1.9 stl
- Many people will point to Kawhi’s increased scoring as the reason he deserves to start in his first All-Star game. I agree that Leonard taking on a bigger offensive role in the Spurs machine this season has showcased the offensive talent he has. Coming into the league as a non-shooter from deep, Kawhi has connected on 48% of his 3-pointers this season, a better percentage than Steph Curry, albeit on significantly less attempts. Kawhi also is shooting 50.3 percent from the field, just shy of Curry’s 50.9%. Kawhi is an All-Star because of his increased efficiency, coupled with his amazing, smothering defence. It will be interesting to see if he brings his defensive game to Toronto for All-Star weekend.
PF: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: 26. 5 pts, 4.4 ast, 7.8 reb, 1.2 blk
- Although, as previously stated, I don’t think Durant is THE player on the Thunder, I do think he is one of the top-5 players in the league. A scoring machine who can score from anywhere on the court, Durant is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA. Durant is a matchup nightmare – too tall and lengthy to be covered by small forwards, but too quick and agile to be guarded by power forwards. Durant is another one of those players who was just made for the All-Star game.
C: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings: 26.1 pts, 2.8 ast, 11.4 reb, 1.3 blk
- As Shaq said on the pre-game show last night, Boogie deserves to be a starter and the All-Star game needs to bring back the centre position. In our All-Star teams, we have both Andre Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins at the centre spot for the East and West respectively. You simply cannot have a “Durant vs. Melo” tip-off. It is almost a mockery of the game of basketball and the history of the game. It’s hard to believe that a man of Cousins’ size can score and create offence like he has this season. 26.1 points per game is top 10 in the NBA and he does it while averaging over 11 rebounds per game. As you may have realized from past articles written on SportsNak, we are a big fan of Boogie and there really should be no argument against that, from anyone. His numbers tell us that he belongs not only in the game, but in the starting lineup.
*Draymond Green, Kobe Bryant, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, James Harden, Marc Gasol
Draymond Green deserves to be an All-Star, and probably deserves to start. Arguably, Green has been more valuable to the Warriors than reigning MVP Steph Curry. Although he doesn’t put up the gaudy scoring stats – and doesn’t do all the flashy things – other superstars do, Green is undeniably a superstar. Green is capable on any night to get a triple-double, and has a huge impact on the game, offensively and defensively. If you watch a Warriors game, you will see their half-court offence run through a Curry-Draymond pick-and-roll at the top of the arc, with most defences trapping Curry to force the ball out of his hands. After that sequence, Green runs the offence four-on-three, with the option to shoot a 3, drive and put up one of his signature floaters, drive and throw an alley-oop to whichever of Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut are in the game, or drive and kick to shooters in the corners. The fact that Green excels at doing all three of those things, as well as being able to play defence on every position, is a testament to the work he has done crafting his game. Maybe Green isn’t a starter, in real-life or in our rankings, but he definitely deserves some recognition as one of the best players in the NBA today.
Check back later this week for SportsNak’s Western Conference All-Star Team. Until then, comment below – do you agree with our decisions? What would you do differently?
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