Three Weeks & 15 Players Away
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SECAUCUS, NJ, Jan. 26, 2007 -- My favorite lyricist says that 30 is the new 20. That means I'm a 21-year old who, in a few weeks, will be indulging in all that is Las Vegas.

Of course, since my days of indulging in the typical vices are long gone, it will be basketball and the surrounding pageantry that will satiate me and deprive me of sleep from Feb. 14-18. Which is probably for the best. My tolerance for hoops is much stronger than my tolerance for anything else Vegas could provide and ... I'm married.

Last night, we learned the names of the 10 starters for the 56th NBA All-Star Game. Gilbert overtaking VC was a surprise, but not that much if you really think about it. Just another chapter in The Takeover by Agent Zero.

Now, of course, it's time to think about the reserves. We're not even half way to filling out the rosters and there are 14 (15 if you count Yao's replacement) more invitations to write, stamp and send.

The discussion has obviously already started and now it's my turn to weigh in. For each conference, we need to select two guards, two forwards, a center and two wildcards. For the West, we'll add a replacement for Yao.

Eastern Conference

This is going to be a tough one. Honestly, there's no one in the East that deserves a spot based solely on their team's success, like we had with Detroit last year. There's just not any impressive teams in the East right now. The Pistons are the closest, but with two losses to the Bobcats...

Guards: Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups
Kidd is a lock. No need to discuss. I went with Billups here because he's just the best player on the best team in the conference right now. It's as simple as that.

Forwards: Caron Butler and Jermaine O'Neal
I actually think that after Kidd and Howard, Butler is the closest thing to a lock that we have in the East. J.O. continues to do his thing at 19.2 and 10.5 and though it seems like he was out longer, he only missed five games.

Center: Dwight Howard
Lock. Should be the starter, but fans will be fans ... and we would miss the latest incarnation of the giant shoe if the Diesel wasn't there.

Wildcards: Richard Hamilton and Vince Carter
I actually had eight candidates for these two spots, but none stood out as obvious picks. Paul Pierce is the best player of the bunch, but his health and the Celtics' record keep me from selecting him. Joe Johnson was a lock for the first few weeks of the season, but honestly, the Hawks are just too low in the standings for me.

Hamilton is having a season similar to last year when he earned his first selection. His per game numbers are up, but his shooting percentages are down. Still, I think the Pistons are the best team in the East right now, despite their problems with Charlotte.

Of the three Bulls I considered, I think Luol Deng is a better candidate than Ben Gordon or Ben Wallace. I think you can certainly justify Gordon being selected, but I think Deng has just been the better overall player for the Bulls.

But somehow, I've got to deny Chicago a spot. Vince Carter hasn't exactly been consistent this season (and he has had a couple of real stinkers in the first half), but he's still putting up his numbers, and along with Kidd, he has kept the Nets afloat without Nenad Krstic or a healthy Richard Jefferson.

Which brings me to Eddy Curry. Yesterday, I was browsing the boxscores and saw his 25 points against the Suns. "Nice game," was my initial thought. Then my eyes drifted over to the rebounds column, where they landed on the number four. Then a quick look at his game-by-game discovers two more similar performances in the last week. I'm not sure what to think of Curry. He's certainly skilled in the post, but does he give you anything else? One could probably dedicate an entire column to the guy's game and I'm still not entirely sure why I left him off my list. If pressed, I might actually choose David Lee over Curry.

Western Conference

Tough for a different reason: too many guys that deserve it.

Guards: Steve Nash and Allen Iverson
I didn't immediately write Iverson's name here. I actually double-checked the rest of the list first. But it was a quick glance.

Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki and Carlos Boozer
Both are locks.

Center: Amare Stoudemire
He could start in place of Yao, or as I would do, Mike D'Antoni could start Nash, move T-Mac to the three and Fundamental to the five.

Wildcards: Shawn Marion and Josh Howard
With the West, you really have to go with team success, so I'll have to eliminate Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Chris Paul and Zach Randolph right away. That leaves me with five candidates for the final three spots: Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Howard, and Marion.

First, I eliminate Carmelo. He's having a great season, but he put this on himself in New York on Dec. 16. I like Williams over Parker, but I just can't argue with how successful the Suns and Mavs have been. Marion never gets enough credit playing alongside Steve Nash. Howard just keeps getting better and if he makes it to Vegas this year, it won't be his first selection.

Replacement: Deron Williams
If it was my choice, Williams would beat his fried Paul to the All-Star Game. Of course, if circumstances were different, this could definitely have been CP3's spot. And Parker is a legit selection as well. But for me, Williams is the most deserving. Along with Boozer, he has led the Jazz to the fourth best record in the league.

Run and Fun

For me, the only two picks that really matter are Kidd and Nash. Seriously, if you have those two, it doesn't matter who the other 22 are. Give them the ball, surround them with players who can get up and down the floor, and enjoy. I'll get my fix, and even if you're watching on TV and not in Vegas, you'll get yours.

Now, it's your turn. We here at NBA.com want to know who your picks are ... and why. Let us know here and we just might make you famous in the next week.

And if you've got a comment on my picks, I might read it too.