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Before we start, let's address the starters. I think that Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Yao Ming all deserve to be going to New Orleans. So, by in large, we did a good job this year. I think I'd rather have Steve Nash (or Chris Paul) and Dirk Nowitzki starting instead of AI and Melo, but as long as all five guys deserve to be in the game, I'm not going to complain.
Now, we move on to the reserves. We need to choose two guards, two forwards, a center, and two wildcards (any position).
Steve Nash, Phoenix (30-13)
17.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 12.1 APG
With the emergence of teams like the Warriors and Hornets, the buzz around Nash and the Suns has died down a bit this year, but Nash is still at the top of his game. He's averaging a career high in assists, his assist-turnover ratio is higher than his first MVP season, and his efficiency is higher than his second. And with Nash and Kidd healthy (let us pray), the All-Star can't help but be much more entertaining than last year's. Lock.
Chris Paul, New Orleans (29-12)
21.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 10.4 APG
The Hornets have the best record in the Western Conference and the second best record in the NBA. Read that sentence again. Paul, obviously, is the engine that makes the Hornets run. He leads all guards and is fifth overall in efficiency. He should be an All-Star for the next ten years. Lock.
Carlos Boozer, Utah (24-18)
22.5 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 2.8 APG
Booz ranks sixth in the league and third in the Western Conference in efficiency. He's got 29 double-doubles in 41 games and he's about as skilled a low-post man you will find in this league, able to score with either hand. The Jazz have been a bit of a disappointment so far this season, but they're sure to make a run in the second half. Lock.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (28-13)
22.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 3.9 APG
The reigning MVP has had a relatively quiet first half, but the Mavs are still one of the best teams in the league and Dirk is still a top-five talent. Dirk has deferred to his teammates a bit, averaging a career high in assists, but he' still the leader of a team that is one game out of the top spot in the West. Lock.
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix (30-13)
22.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.2 APG
The West center position is a deeper group than it has been in quite a while, but with Yao as the starter, Amare Stoudemire is Standing Tall and Talented above the rest of the group. STAT ranks fourth in the league and first in the West in efficiency and is putting up career highs in field goal percentage (.590) and blocks (2.20).
I'm also able to eliminate Tracy McGrady pretty quickly. The Rockets are 23-19, but T-Mac has missed 14 games. That leaves the following 10 guys for two spots: Marcus Camby, Tyson Chandler, Baron Davis, Manu Ginobili, Josh Howard, Shawn Marion, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy, David West and Deron Williams.
All of those guys deserve to be All-Stars and it sucks that eight of them will be staying home, but since I can only choose two...
Baron Davis, Golden State (25-18)
22.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 8.1 APG
B-Diddy is the unquestioned leader of the most fun team to watch in the league. He's the only player in the league averaging 20 or more points, eight or more assists, and four or more rebounds per game (Chris Paul is close). And he has been continuously clutch since last season.
Brandon Roy, Portland (25-17)
19.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.7 APG
Roy has led an incredible turnaround for the Blazers. Since starting out 5-12, they've gone 20-5 and are challenging for the top spot in the Northwest Division. And Roy has been the key to the run. Like Paul, Roy should be a perennial All-Star down the line. Could he be making his first trip as a second-year player? We shall see.
With Davis and Roy, that gives us at least one player from the 10 Western Conference teams that are above .500. That wasn't really my intent, but it works out nicely.
If there is an injury to any of the above, Manu Ginobili would be my first choice for an injury replacement, followed by David West.
Comment on my picks for West Reserves and make your own in the Fan Voice.