Cohen's Analysis: Here is what we know about the East and who will represent the conference in February’s All-Star Game in Houston:
Starters: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo
There is still plenty of voting time left for fans to decide who will start, but the gap is pretty big for anything to alter.
Guaranteed Reserves: Chris Bosh, Al Horford and Josh Smith
With Miami and Atlanta soaring in the East, these three are obvious choices.
That brings our total to eight for 12 slots. Who are the next four?
Well, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are perennial All-Stars, however all three have generally underachieved this season and do not really deserve to make it at this point.
Brook Lopez, Raymond Felton and Brandon Jennings all warrant a spot. All will be candidates for the Most Improved Player award and barring any unfortunate injuries all deserve the honor to play in the midseason classic.
That lifts the tally to 11. That means there is one slot remaining.
Hmmm….Arron Afflalo, maybe?
The Magic have exceeded expectations and while not one specific player is necessarily the reason for this rapid success, Afflalo, who was the most established player acquired in the Dwight Howard trade, has been very reliable all year and is posting impressive offensive statistics.
Many people would have deemed it unimaginable a year ago for Afflalo to receive this kind of praise and while it’s still a long shot for him to actually earn the tribute of playing in Houston in Feb., his unremitting improvement and hard work has made it a viable possibility.