SECAUCUS, NJ, January 24, 2008 -- With tonight's announcement of the starters for the 2008 All-Star Game in New Orleans, it's obviously time to think about who the seven reserves should be for each conference. That's exactly what the coaches will be doing over the next couple of days, and the results of their voting will be announced next Thursday night on TNT.

John Schuhmann gives you his selections for the Western Conference

The East is in good hands with the five starters the fans voted in. Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard should bring the firepower necessary to make three wins in four years well within the reach of the boys reppin' the Right Coast. I'm curious to see if the big-man duo of KG and Dwight actually bring the defense to the table (a rarity in All-Star games) and the inclusion of Kidd ensures that everybody will get their touches. (If Kidd takes two shots the whole game, it will be one too many.)

When picking the reserves, the only rule is you need need to choose two guards, two forwards and one center. After that, there are two wildcard spots and you can fill them with any position.

The Guards

Chauncey Billups, Detroit (30-13)
17.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.1 APG

He's the motor that keeps the Pistons within striking distance of the Celtics atop the Eastern Conference. After not making the mid-season classic for the first eight years of his career, it should be the third-straight selection for Mr. Big Shot.

Jose Calderon, Toronto (23-19)
12.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 8.5 APG

Calderon gets the honor of being my only selection that will be a first-time All-Star. There are a variety of reasons of why Calderon is deserving (starting with his ridiculous 5.4 assist-turnover ratio and including his attaining the holy trio of percentages with 50-40-90), but the most impressive thing he's done is play Lou Gehrig to T.J. Ford's Wally Pipp. Since Ford went out on December 11 with a neck injury, Calderon has led the Raps to a 11-9 record while upping his points and assists averages to 14.5 and 9.3, respectively.

Three Hardest Guard Snubs

Tragic Shaft: Richard Hamilton (DET)
Maybe Next Year: Ray Allen (BOS)
Team Record Hurt You: Joe Johnson (ATL)

The Forwards

Caron Butler, Washington (22-18)
21.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.3 APG

The Wizards started the season 0-5, Gilbert Arenas was sidelined with knee surgery and Washington's playoff hopes were supposed to be forgotten about like we all pretend to forget that '80s fashion ever happened. Right? Wrong. Butler transformed from a capable dance partner into the leading man. He stamped his ticket to N'awlins with inspired play (18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals) in back-to-back wins against Boston on January 12th and 14th.

Paul Pierce, Boston (33-7)
20.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.0 APG

What All-Star team would be complete without the leading scorer on the team with the NBA's best record? The Celtics' 33-7 start has to be particularly satisfying for Pierce who has spent all of his 10 seasons in Boston and has experienced it all, from the highs of making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002, to the lows of being injured for most of 2006-07 and seeing his squad land in the lottery.

Three Hardest Forward Snubs

Tragic Shaft: Josh Smith (ATL)
Maybe Next Year: Hedo Turkoglu (ORL)
Team Record Hurt You: Richard Jefferson (NJN)

The Center

They say that the only things guaranteed in life are taxes and death. Let's add having Shaquille O'Neal at NBA All-Star Weekend to that list.

I said it last year and I'll say it again: Shaq is what All-Star is all about.

His days as a player in Sunday's game seem to be over -- he's averaging just 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, chicken feed compared to his prime rib numbers of the past -- but the memories he's provided from 14 All-Star appearances are not enough. We want more.

Here are a few ways to get the Big Aristotle down to the Big Easy next month:

  • Give him the Nos. 1-10 placards to judge the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. Only a big man can truly appreciate the aerial artistry that the 6-11 Dwight Howard pulls off.
  • The T-Mobile Rookie Challenge employs NBA legends as the coaches ... Shaq's an active legend ... perfect fit.
  • Ignore his 1-for-20 career mark behind the arc and invite him to compete in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout.
  • Reinstate the Miami Sol for a day and have Shaq team up with Ruth Riley and Heat "legend" John Sunvold in the Haier Shooting Stars competition.
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland (23-18)
    13.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.2 APG

    Brett Farve isn't the only pro athlete to experience a renaissance this year. The 7-3 Big Z is averaging more rebounds per game than he has in any other season of his 10-year career and his .481 field goal percentage, coupled with his .824 rate from the foul line, gives LeBron James a trusted target to pass to. Ilgauskas has quietly had a stellar career, as this would be his fourth All-Star selection.

    Three Hardest Center Snubs

    Tragic Shaft: Rasheed Wallace (DET)
    Maybe Next Year: Emeka Okafor (CHA)
    Team Record Hurt You: Andrew Bogut (MIL)

    The Wildcards

    Chris Bosh, Toronto (23-19)
    22.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.2 APG

    No, I'm not just taking Bosh because he dressed up like a Texas car salesman and told me to. CB4 earns the nod for ushering in a new era of successful basketball to Toronto post VC15. You can pencil in 20 and 10 next to his name in the scorebook every night, but you might have to use the eraser once in a while and double the numbers as Bosh has three 40-point games so far this season and grabbed 19 rebounds once as well.

    Antawn Jamison, Washington (22-18)
    21.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.6 APG

    Jamison's 24 double-doubles put him second only to Dwight Howard in the Eastern Conference and eighth overall in the NBA. The 10-year vet is averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for the first time in his career and is also sixth amongst all Eastern Conference forwards in three-pointers made with 66.

    Comment on your picks for East Reserves in our Fan Voice Forum.