Dec. 20 --
Vegas baby! Balloting for NBA All-Star 2007 is under way and to keep you abreast of who you might want to send to Vegas in February, NBA.com will break down all six positions -- West guards, forwards and centers, and East guards, forwards and centers -- over the coming weeks.
Today's Ballot Breakdown covers the Eastern Conference forwards, ranked statistically (by the sum total of their scoring, rebounding and assist averages). LeBron might seem like a no-brainer, but scan who else is out there at forward before you vote daily select the starters for the 2007 All-Star Game on Feb. 18. (Note: All statistics are through games played on Dec. 19.)
LeBron James, Cleveland
Averages: 26.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.7 APG
Breakdown: In Las Vegas you find a lot of playing cards and in a deck of cards you find four kings. Well, somebody make room for King James to join the mix. James owns the three-spot in the East and will for long time.
Paul Pierce, Boston
Averages: 26.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.3 APG
Breakdown: Pierce is in the prime of his career and seems to have his young supporting cast playing the right way. Just look at the C's five-game win streak for evidence. The Truth is eyeing his sixth All-Star appearance in nine years.
Chris Bosh, Toronto
Averages: 20.5 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 2.0 APG
Breakdown: If Bosh can recover from his left knee injury and get back on the court, a repeat all-expenses-paid trip to All-Star weekend is in his reach. CB4 is second in the league in rebounding and had a sick 23-point, 22-rebound game against the Warriors on Nov. 14.
Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana
Averages: 18.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.0 APG
Breakdown: It's amazing that O'Neal has become an elder statesman of the league after starting his career in Portland right out of high school. Now in his 11th season, O'Neal is near the top of the leaderboard with 3.0 blocks per game and the five-time All-Star is in line for selection No. 6.
Caron Butler, Washington
Averages: 19.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.6 APG
Breakdown: With Gilbert and Antawn on the squad, it's no surprise that Caron flys under the radar. Butler is putting up career highs in points, rebounds and assists, and making a pretty strong case for some All-Star spotlight in February.
Antawn Jamison, Washington
Averages: 18.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.8 APG
Breakdown: At 6-9, 235 pounds, Jamison's frame helps him board, but it also helps him shoot over smaller defenders out on the perimeter. The versatile power forward is shooting a career-best 81 percent from the foul line.
Emeka Okafor, Charlotte
Averages: 15.4 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.3 APG
Breakdown: Emeka is back from an injury-induced sophomore slump and making his presence felt around the league. He adds a career-best 3.1 swats per game to his bundle of stats. Now, if only he could do something about only going 55 percent from the charity stripe.
Luol Deng, Chicago
Averages: 17.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.4 APG
Breakdown: Deng is shooting a ridiculous 54 percent from the field as Kirk Hinrich has made him his favorite target when leading the fast break. He is averaging a career high in points in his third season out of Duke.
Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
Averages: 15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.5 APG
Breakdown: There is still one A.I. in Philadelphia. Iguodala is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and steals. If he keeps improving like he has, he will be doing more than just the dunk contest at future All-Star weekends.
Rasheed Wallace, Detroit
Averages: 13.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.7 APG
Breakdown: 'Sheed continues to play his part as the inside-presence and outside-shooting force in the Pistons' ensemble.
The Next Five
Josh Smith, Atlanta
12.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.4 APG
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit
Averages: 15.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.6 APG
Al Harrington, Indiana
Averages: 16.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.5 APG
Andres Nocioni, Chicago
Averages: 16.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG
Wally Szczerbiak, Boston
Averages: 18.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.1 APG
The Top Write-In Candidate
Al Jefferson, Boston
Averages: 15.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.2 APG
Breakdown: During the Celtics' current five-game win streak Jefferson has four double-doubles and has topped the 20-point mark three times. The streak started with Jefferson posting career highs in points (29) and rebounds (14) vs. New Jersey on Dec. 9.
Other Forwards on the Ballot
, New York; Drew Gooden
, Cleveland; Udonis Haslem
, Miami; Grant Hill
, Orlando; Richard Jefferson
, New Jersey; Hedo Turkoglu
, Orlando; Charlie Villanueva
, Milwaukee; Antoine Walker
, Miami; Gerald Wallace
, Charlotte; Chris Webber