Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
24 most deserving All-Stars
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
It’s difficult to believe how fast it’s gone, right? After all, we’re already 12 percent through the 2014-15 NBA season. The Cavs collapse seems over, Kobe's elbow still is attached, though barely, and the 76ers remain on pace to achieve their dream of an 0-82 season.
It may be a bit early for the post season awards, but how about the All-Star team? The NBA changed the All-Star voting for this season to include everyone on the ballot, an apparent response to all the write in ballots for Kendrick Perkins and Pero Antic. So the voting that usually begins this week starts in early December so league personnel can also get their FanDuel teams in order.
Despite some whining, the league will keep to 12-player teams, and, after all, if you’re not obviously top 10 can it be that much of a snub? The starters are selected by the fans, which can produce a popularity vote for someone not doing as well or playing as much because of injury, say like Kevin Durant or Derrick Rose. Though that’s OK. It’s the fans’ game. They should see whom they want; Russell Westbrook as well. But based on the first 10 games of the season, here’s an early look at the most deserving 12-player teams for each conference.
LeBron James: Still pretty good, as it turns out. The league’s best player.
Pau Gasol: The second best off season addition. Gasol has emerged as the East’s best center.
Chris Bosh: Freed of the chains of LeBron? Nah, it got him a pair of titles. As a main player Bosh has taken on the responsibility and performed pretty well. But it is the East.
John Wall: The Wizards guard is off to his best start and if not an ideal playmaker has improved all aspects of his game.
Jimmy Butler: The Bulls shooting guard who isn’t exactly has become a 20-point scorer with being perhaps the league’s toughest perimeter guard as a two-way player, a contender for all sorts of Most Improved honors.
That would be your potential first team, though there’s no way those five ever would top the fan voting.
Kyrie Irving: The Cavs high scoring guard isn’t the kind of player to defer. So it’s sort of a tag team with LeBron that is starting to work.
Kyle Lowry: Close last season in his breakout and continuing his excellent play, though as the point guard probably should be more aware of teammates.
Carmelo Anthony: Obviously coming along slowly with another coach and offense, but still above most as a scorer.
Dwyane Wade: No longer with that amazing athletic ability and explosive moves. But he’s making plays and settling into a second stage of his career. He has been mostly healthy, though not of late.
Nikola Vucevic: It’s difficult to become an All-Star with a losing team, though Anthony likely will. The Magic has played better and he’s shown a consistent game that’s difficult to ignore.
Joe Johnson: He remains a unique one-on-one player; sometimes too often, but a very difficult scorer to stop.
Paul Millsap: Perhaps the most overlooked of All-Stars, but he plays a vital role for an Hawks team that everyone always believes will go away and doesn’t.
Kobe Bryant: Hey, they won a game. You know he’s getting voted to start, but he’s also been among the league leaders in scoring with all the shots. But still an amazing comeback from injury and having the bionic shooting elbow.
Klay Thompson: Another guy coming back big from a summer of USA Basketball. Tough to distinguish from teammate Curry, and also impressive pure shooter.
Stephen Curry: The consensus best backcourt averaging almost 50 per game. Not the pure point guard, so they’ll have the turnovers. But they combine for the league’s most entertaining game, which is the menu for All-Star.
Anthony Davis: The newest next star of the game who if his team were better would be a top candidate for league MVP. Averaging some amazing numbers in getting near Wilt and Russell level blocks as well.
Dwight Howard: Playing his best since his Orlando days with dominance at the basket. Maybe Omer was holding him back. And his back as well.
Those could be the Western starters, though there are several more guards who could fit in as well.
Mike Conley: One of the more overlooked guards in the deep West, he’s been the difference for a hot start for the Grizzlies and pressure shot maker.
Tony Parker: The most reliable player on the most reliable of teams. He makes the big play when needed.
James Harden: Still putting up big numbers and drawing contact like no one else in the league.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Remains their go-to guy with perhaps the best mid range big man shooting game.
Dirk Nowitzki: The ultimate old reliable whose game ages beautifully without seeming to lose much.
Chris Paul: Remains the engine for a good team not playing as well as they could. Griffin is scoring but he has fallen too much in love with jump shots and not as aggressive to earn a spot.
DeMarcus Cousins: I’m still not totally convinced as he shows little interest in defending and wanders around a bit. But he has tried, has been more in control, in the post and the team is better.