BLOGGER'S BALLOT: Marco Benitez's 2018 ASG starter picks
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 9: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball during the game against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 9, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. (Photos by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
We’re almost at the halfway point of the season, and so it’s time to vote for the players who have led their teams to dominance in their respective conferences with their performances. Who do I find worthy of being voted All-Star Game starters? Here are my picks:
Forward/Center - LeBron James (CLE)
No All-Star list for the past 15 years has been complete without the inclusion of LeBron James. The King has turned on the switch and has led Cleveland from a lackluster start to the top of the heap of the Eastern Conference. At age 33, Lebron is playing the most efficient basketball of his career -- 27.5ppg, 8.1rpg, 9.1apg, 38% 3P, 37mpg – and there is still no one who can dominate a game much like LBJ can.
Forward/Center - Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)
At 23-years of age, the Greek Freak leads the Eastern Conference in points per game (28.9ppg), is 5th in rebounding (10.1rpg), while averaging 4.7apg, nearly 2 steals, a block and 55 perecnt from the field. And of course, the Bucks are also in playoff contention.
Forward/Center - Joel Embiid (PHI)
Apart from being a beast on social media, Joel Embiid is among the best and most versatile centers in the league at just 23-years of age. He is one of only five players in the league averaging 20+ ppg and 10+ rpg (the others being DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo)
Guard - Kyrie Irving (BOS)
Kyrie Irving finally got his wish of playing outside of LeBron’s shadow and has taken the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference. He’s producing 24.1ppg, 3.5rpg, and 5.0apg while playing just 32 minutes a game, a shade less than he did with the Cavs.
Guard - DeMar DeRozan (TOR)
DeMar Derozan has taken his game to new heights and the Raptors to second place in the Eastern Conference. Finally adding the three-pt shot to his arsenal, DeRozan is currently third in scoring in the East, posting career-bests in three-point shooting (36%) and assists (4.9apg).
Forward/Center - LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)
This probably won’t be the most popular choice, but one of the major reasons why the Spurs are still in the top-3 in the ultra-competitive Western Conference despite missing Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker for majority of the season is because of the resurgence of LaMarcus Aldridge. Now a better fit in the Popovich system, LA is posting numbers comparable to his Portland All-Star form (22.2ppg, 8.4rpg, 2.0apg, 49%FG%) and doing it in an even more efficient manner.
Forward/Center - Anthony Davis (NOP)
Both Anthony Davis (26ppg, 10.4rpg, 2.3apg) and DeMarcus Cousins (25.8ppg, 12.4rpg, 5.1apg) are beasting for the Pelicans, but I’m going with the Brow because he’s a better defender (2.1bpg), more efficient scorer (55% FG%) and a better overall +/- (4.2).
Forward/Center - Kevin Durant (GSW)
Last season’s Finals MVP and eight-time All-Star Kevin Durant is the Warriors second leading scorer and #1 shot-blocker this season averaging a career-best 2.3 blocks per game. He continues to be the x-factor that makes the Warriors almost unbeatable in the postseason.
Guard - James Harden (HOU)
The Beard is once again in contention for MVP honors, leading the league in scoring (31.8ppg) and third in assists (9.1apg). With him and Chris Paul manning the backcourt, the Rockets have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Warriors in the West.
Guard - Russell Westbrook (OKC)
The reigning NBA MVP is scoring less this year (24.8ppg) but that’s because he now has two perennial All-Stars with him in OKC. Despite that, he’s still averaging close to a triple-double, leading the league in assists (10.1apg) and grabbing 9.6 rpg, putting him still prominently in the MVP conversation.
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