Bloggers' ballots: 2019 NBA All-Star Game starters

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 07, 2019 01:17 PM
Bloggers' ballots: 2019 NBA All-Star Game starters
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NBA PH blogtable

1) The West backcourt nominees include 3 former MVPs - Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. Who are your 2 choices, or do you see someone else making the cut?

Migs Bustos: I'd go for Steph Curry and James Harden. In terms of popularity, no doubt that they two of the more influential players in the world. Stats-wise, they're not so bad choices either: The Beard averages 30+ a game, while Curry averages a little over 29 this season, and "partida", he got injured last November and was sidelined for a couple of games.

If you don't vote for either Harden nor Curry, Westbrook should be an obvious choice. One notable possibility to start is Damian Lillard. If he were in the East, he'd be an auto-start. The West is just so stacked with ELITE guards.

Marco Benitez: My two choices for the West backcourt are James Harden and Steph Curry. Harden is tearing it up as of late, and was on a run of 11 straight games scoring above 30ppg, with five straight games above 40ppg, including that unbelievable three-pointer at the buzzer to win it against the Warriors. He’s also shooting just under 40 percent from three, and getting to the line 10.9 times a game (tied for most in his career). This is arguably not only the most efficient, but also the most effective offensive season Harden has had in his career to this point. After Harden, Derrick Rose is the emotional pick, as he has been one of the best stories so far this season, averaging nearly 19pts, three reboundss, and five assists per game off the bench. After what he’s been through the past several years after his ACL injury, he’s definitely deserving of an All-Star spot. But to start the West backcourt alongside Harden, I’m still going with Steph Curry. In the games he’s been out, the 26-14 Warriors are below .500 (5-6).

Anton Roxas: Initially, I voted for Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook because the former still manages to put up impressive numbers despite being on a team with three other current All-Stars, while the latter has helped lead his team to the third-best record in the West at 25-13. Lately though, James Harden has been making a lot of noise with his out of this world play and is influencing me to put his name on my succeeding ballots. Yes, you can vote more than once on NBA.com/vote.

Enzo Flojo: Harden is the reigning MVP and has been on a massive tear of late. I mean, the last time he scored fewer than 30 points was almost a month ago (December 11 vs Portland), and even then he was just off by a solitary point. Behind Harden, the Rockets have won 11 of their last 13 games and have shot up to fifth in the West. No question he should be an All-Star starter.

Russell Westbrook has been terrific again, averaging a triple-double as of this writing, but Steph Curry for me has just been a little better. I mean, Curry averages 5.1 triples per game while scoring close 30.0 points per outing. If that's not All-Star starter material, then I don'w know what is.

Adrian Dy: Despite a rotation tweak by Warriors coach Steve Kerr that has Curry starting, leaving after three-four minutes, and then coming back in the second and fourth quarters (a move that kills his rhythm), the Splash Brother has been balling as of late, and his 5.1 triples per game ties his career-best mark. Also, #StephBetter.

That makes it a toss-up between the reigning MVP Harden and Westbrook, and for me, The Beard's efficiency is the tie-breaker. Yes, Westbrook is once again averaging a triple-double, but his 41.8 field goal percentage is his worst since his first two seasons in the Association. Heck, in December and January, it's fallen all the way to 35.8 percent.

2) Is King James an automatic for a West forward spot? Who else do you have as selections?

Migs Bustos: Yes. The current best player in the world gets an automatic start. 👑

I'd still go for Kevin Durant at the other forward spot, given his impact, what he does for the team -- the Warriors are still in second place in the West (despite their early season drama). 28.5 points on 50.5 percent shooting is legit.

Besides voting for LeBron and KD, obvious choices would be Anthony Davis or Paul George. But I voted for Luka Doncic! Honestly, I know he won't make the cut as a starter, but he's just tooooo good for a rookie. At 19-years-old, close to 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game -- he ain't no LeBron, Kobe, Garnett, or Stoudemire when they went straight to the League from high school, but Doncic is special, and definitely the future of the NBA.

Marco Benitez: Is LeBron a lock for a West forward spot? Is Hollywood the Celebrity Capital of the world? LeBron is a lock, whether he's in the West or the East. In less than half a season, he’s turned the Lakers into a playoff contender, and brought Showtime back to LA. He’s also putting up crazy numbers for someone in year 16. Let’s face it, the King just continues to break the boundaries of what athletes are supposed to be able to do, on and off the court. My other picks to round off the frontline are Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic. Davis because he’s still the best all-around center in the West; and Jokic quite simply because he’s been the primary reason why the Nuggets currently sit atop the Western Conference.

Anton Roxas: King James is automatic no matter where he goes. I mean, 27.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 7.1 APG in his 16th NBA season at the age of 34? Come on now. As for the other two forwards, I chose Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. Both were on Team LeBron last year and helped James win his 3rd NBA ASG MVP. What can I say? The King needs his men.

Enzo Flojo: For sure. LeBron, for all the flak he continues to receive, is still maybe the best all-around player on the planet, or at least he's right up there with the two other superbly outstanding frontcourt players in the West -- AD and KD. For me, all three should be West starters. Look at LBJ and what he's done with a very young and raw Lakers squad -- they're holding on to 8th in the West and have looked like world beaters at times.

Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant are truly deserving as well. Their numbers alone speak of how these are two of the very best on planet Earth in terms of playing this game.

Adrian Dy: James basically has a "reserved for The King" sign on an All-Star starting spot until he decides to retire, given how his game continues to age gracefully. But as for who's going to be up front with him, I'm avoiding the obvious KD-AD combo and instead going for Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Thunder swingman Paul George. Few thought the Nuggets and the Thunder would be in the upper echelon of the West, but there they are, and for that, their best players (no typo Westbrook stans) need to be rewarded.

3) MVP candidates Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard seem like East forward locks, agree or disagree? Who do you have rounding out the choices?

Migs Bustos: I voted for The Greek Freak and The Claw for the two front court spots. Joel Embiid is a solid, no-brainer third choice because of his numbers this year. Besides that, no doubt he is the alpha dog, the main man for the Sixers in this era. He's the main reason why Philly is in the top four now.

Marco Benitez: Giannis and Kawhi definitely are locks for All-Star starter spots. The Bucks sit atop the NBA’s power rankings, while the Raptors are looking like East favorites at this point. Giannis is a serious MVP contender with averages of 26-12.5-6.2, and has given the Bucks an unfair matchup advantage over other teams. Kawhi meanwhile, has carried the Raptors offensively and is having his best scoring and rebounding season of his career. Rounding out my East frontcourt is of course none other than Joel Embiid, who is posting career-best numbers at 26.9ppg, 13.6rpg, and 3.5apg, not to mention he’s only missed two of the Sixers' 39 games so far this season.

Anton Roxas: No doubt, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a lock for the East forwards after carrying Milwaukee to one of the best records (27-11) in the league. Not just the East, the league! As for Kawhi Leonard? He most definitely deserves a spot as well, but I did not vote for him. I’m not a fan of his style. Personally, I don’t think he has a flashy enough game that would excite fans at the All-Star event. I’d rather see big dunks and my favorite players. That’s why I voted for Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.

Enzo Flojo: Don't judge me, but my head is telling me to vote for Nikola Vucevic. Vooch Island isn't the most glamorous, sure, but the big Montenegrin just gets the job done. I mean, he is amazingly efficient, putting up around 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and 1 triple per game while shooting 54% from the floor, 79% from the stripe, and turning the ball over just twice per match. I'd pick Giannis and Joel Embiid ahead of Vooch, but I'm not opposed to voting for Vucevic over Kawhi. And yet, I'll probably still put Kawhi in because this is the All-Star Weekend and not "Most Efficient Players Weekend."

Adrian Dy: No weird picks for the East frontcourt for me. Kawhi and Giannis are definitely in the MVP conversation. And just on the fringe of said conversation? 76ers center Joel Embiid who has so far *knocks on wood* stayed healthy throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

4) Kyrie Irving seems like an obvious pick for the East backcourt. Who do you see in those spots?

Migs Bustos: I voted for Kyrie. I had a hard time deciding who to pick as his partner in the backcourt though. It was a toss up between Bradley Beal and Kemba Walker because of their similar averages. But what stood out for me more is the impact the player has on his team. Currently, the Hornets are in the top eight, while the Wizards continue to struggle below the line. Plus, it's about time Kemba Walker gets his break as a starter. It's also a feel-good story for the hosts to have a representative from their hometown.

Marco Benitez: For my East backcourt, the obvious choice is Kyrie Irving. Uncle Drew is still the best pound-for-pound guard in the East in my opinion, someone can take over a game offensively at the flick of a switch, and, who, at 6’3”, is one of the best shot makers in the league. My second choice for East guard is quite unconventional: Victor Oladipo. Right now, Dipo is the best 2-guard in the East on a winning team (sorry Bradley Beal), leading the Pacers to third place in the conference, just a game and a half behind the Bucks.

Anton Roxas: I did not vote for Kyrie Irving because I’m a bigger fan of two other players: Ben Simmons and Kemba Walker. Simmons is my favorite point guard in the NBA. I think at 6’10”, there’s no other player in the world like him. And at the age of 22, sky’s the limit for him. As for Walker, I’ve been a fan of his since he won an NCAA title with UConn back in 2011. Plus, Buzz City needs a player of their own at their All-Star game.

Enzo Flojo: Kyrie has been rock-solid for Boston, doing practically everything but blocking shots. He's an easy East starter choice. Beside him should be wonder Boomer Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons has just been a deck-stacker, so to speak. he scores, rebounds, assists, steals, and is ultra efficient on offense, shooting 58 percent from the floor. He'll be an awesome first-time All-Star starter!

Adrian Dy: The Celtics, whom many had as the top team in the East at the start of the season, would be an even bigger disappointment had it not been for Kyrie Irving making some spectacular shots as of late. After a poor October, Irving has been the leader this team needed, and he should be rewarded with a starting spot.

Speaking of shot-making, perhaps the only other point guard in the East of the same caliber is Kemba Walker, the hometown pick. It's fitting that Kemba starts because *reckless speculation alert* he's an unrestricted free agent next offseason, and might opt to chase a ring somewhere else.

5) Who do you want to see repping the East and West when they make their All-Star team draft selections?

Migs Bustos: In the West, I'd still say Lebron James. Considered the best today, he has touched a lot of lives beyond basketball, and the impact he has to basketball fans.

Giannis will represent the East. It'll be close between him and Kahwi Leonard. While Kahwi's game is simple yet efficient, Giannis's style is strong and full of character. That's why visually, fans love him more because he's so much more exciting to watch.

Marco Benitez: Finally, since we’re following the same format last year, I’m going with Giannis to pick the rosters for the East, while LeBron this time, picks the roster for the West. I think it’s just fitting to have the two best players from each Conference as captains of their squad.

Anton Roxas: Honestly, I want to see a rematch between Team LeBron and Team Steph. Both players have been absolutely phenomenal on and off the court. Right now, there are no better ambassadors for the sport than those two so I would’ve loved to see them captain the two All-Star teams for the second straight year. Unfortunately, it can’t happen anymore since LeBron moved out West so there will have to be a new representative for the East. I’d choose LeBron over Steph to lead the West. As for the East, maybe it’s time for a new face to emerge as its leader. I’m going with Giannis. I mean, if The Greek Freak can challenge The Great One – The Rock to a workout, he can definitely come after The King.

Enzo Flojo: Kyrie for the East and LBJ for the West.

The "love lost" between these two former teammates should give the draft selection event a lot of drama, and with LBJ's recent comments about their 2016 title run cementing his place as the GOAT, this should be an even more emotionally-charged pairing. Team Kyrie versus Team LeBron? Yessir!

Adrian Dy: LeBron will likely be the captain of the West team, but it just feels to me like Curry will have more fun with the role. As for the East captain, it needs to be Joel Embiid. When they broadcast the draft, Embiid should be allowed to break his picks online first ala-Woj, and he should definitely be encouraged to trash-talk the guys he opts not to draft. 

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports.

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