Clearly the stronger conference this year, the West is stacked with talent. Enough talent that some deserving players will be left out of this year’s Western Conference All-Star squad. Who gets in and who gets snubbed is always interesting, especially when those who are snubbed take it to heart and go on a tear for the rest of the season (See: Steph Curry Post All-Star 2013)
Firstly let’s get “Locks” out of the way – the guys that without a doubt deserve to be picked and will be picked.
Kevin Durant takes out one of the newly introduced “Frontcourt” positions. Do I even need to explain myself?
Chris Paul – a lock to take up a guard position – playing in a large-market team, and at an MVP calibre level on one of the most exciting teams in the league will surely secure the perennial All-Star another nod.
At this point, that is basically the only absolutely guaranteed selections. Other players are very, very deserving of a spot but aren’t assured of a spot on the squad for one reason or another…
Kevin Love – recovering from an injury spoiled season last year to come back better than ever, K-Love is putting up numbers earning himself some chatter in the MVP conversation. He deserves a start on the All-Star team, but he plays for a small market team that’s fighting for the 8th seed in the West. If he somehow doesn’t get voted in by the public, the coaches will surely vote him in as a reserve. It would be a travesty if he doesn’t get in.
Dwight Howard – The least popular man in Orlando and Los Angeles is still talented enough to deserve another All-Star appearance. Playing with Jeremy Lin can’t hurt either as the he has gained greater exposure in the Asian region (where voting numbers are immense).
James Harden – The Bearded One, like Dwight, will benefit from playing alongside Lin – however he is talented enough and popular enough to warrant a selection on his own merit. Emerging as a star after his trade to Houston, Harden looks set to make his second All-Star appearance.
Russell Westbrook – One of the best PGs in the league, Westbrook showed his worth to Oklahoma City last year when he went down with an injury in the playoffs. The Thunder were nowhere near the same team without him, and faltered in the playoffs. He has All-Star level talent and deserves to be on the West squad this year; unfortunately for him the West is stacked with deserving talent.
Tony Parker – The best point guard in the post season last year took his team to the finals, and within one play of the Championship. This year he is producing a statistically similar season, and the Spurs are rolling atop the West standings. He plays his role in Greg Popovich’s team and is now the most crucial player to Spurs success.
Damian Lillard – The 2nd year guard, fresh off his Rookie of the Year award is continuing to become a superstar, and his team has seemingly mirrored his ascent. The Blazers are 16-3 coming off impressive wins over Indiana & OKC. If he doesn’t get a call-up this year, his time will surely come soon.
Steph Curry – The best shooter in the NBA, and one of the best shooters of all time. Curry has no conscience when shooting the ball and is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the league, playing in front of the best home crowd in the league. Everybody likes the guy, and everybody wants to see him out there hoisting 3’s from 4ft behind the line, in transition, for the hell of it.
Kobe Bean Bryant – May or may not come back and be able to play at the same level he was at before his injury, but missing the amount of time that he has will mean that the coaches won’t select him if he doesn’t get voted in by the fans. That being said, he is still the most recognisable player in the game at the moment and has die-hard fans all over the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he squeaks in on the fan vote.
LaMarcus Aldridge – leading the top team in the West in points and rebounds, the Texas native is stating his claim for an All-Star selection with his Portland team getting it done on both ends of the court. Aldridge had a season high 38 points in helping his Blazers end the Thunder’s 8-game win streak in his last game.
Blake Griffin – The Clipper dunk machine has eleven 20 & 10 games this season and has been a dominant force in the Western Conference landscape of talented forwards. Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol’s injuries may make it easier for him to find his way into the All-Star squad again this year.
DeMarcus Cousins – An All-Star talent with a penchant for fouling. If Boogie Cousins could stay on the floor enough he would be putting up monster numbers this season. His averages this year of 22 and 10 in just 30mins per game give some indication of his talent, and the fact that he is producing nowhere near his ceiling this year.
At least one of the players above isn’t going to get a call-up to the game in New Orleans this year, and I haven’t even mentioned Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, home-town hero Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Ty Lawson, Kevin Martin, Jrue Holiday, Ricky Rubio, David Lee/Andrew Bogut/Klay Thompson/Iggy, Mike Conley, Z-Bo, DeAndre Jordan or Serge Ibaka. This group would make a good All-Star team by themselves, and they’re barely in the conversation this year.