Posted: Thursday January 25, 2007 11:51AM; Updated: Thursday January 25, 2007 9:03PM
SI.com's All-Star picks (continued) ...
WESTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES
Carmelo Anthony Tracy McGrady A. Stoudemire Carlos Boozer Allen Iverson Shawn Marion Josh Howard
Lots of tough omissions here (particularly Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Marcus Camby, Mehmet Okur, Manu Ginobili, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Elton Brand, Ray Allen and Kevin Martin), but there is no way any of the forwards listed could be left off. Fortunately I was able to slot Duncan at center and McGrady at guard to create room. Iverson (29 points, 7.5 assists) gets the nod at backup point guard over Paul, who has missed too much time with injury.
Kevin Martin Deron Williams A. Stoudemire Carlos Boozer Carmelo Anthony Shawn Marion Allen Iverson
If Golden State were a little more consistent, Baron Davis would have gotten the nod over Iverson, whom we're reluctant to reward for making an ugly exit from Philly. But we are willing to forgive Carmelo for coming to the aid of a teammate. We're also in the mood to reward a duo that has Utah at the playoffs. There aren't many comparable duos to Marion and Stoudemire, a big reason Phoenix has yet to lose in '07. The same can't be said for the Kings, whose lone bright spot may be Martin's emergence as a dependable scorer.
Baron Davis Tracy McGrady A. Stoudemire Carlos Boozer Carmelo Anthony Elton Brand Allen Iverson
Plenty of snubs (Shawn Marion, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph) in a loaded conference, though injuries (Yao Ming, Chris Paul) make the selection process that much easier. Boozer wins the lottery on a Jazz team with a number of worthy candidates, while Davis gets the nod for guiding the Warriors back to viability and within striking distance of the franchise's first playoff berth in more than a decade. Anthony's behavior aside, it's tough to exclude the NBA's leading scorer despite his lengthy absence.
Allen Iverson Ray Allen A. Stoudemire Carlos Boozer Carmelo Anthony Shawn Marion Josh Howard
Yes, yes, the fans love Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. But even if they are healthy for Vegas, both have missed too many games to get my nod. I wavered on Anthony, in fact, due to his 15-game suspension, but, hey, the guy is averaging more than 31 points a game. It was difficult to leave off Zach Randolph, but you tell me which of those reserve forwards is not deserving.
Josh Howard Tracy McGrady A. Stoudemire Carlos Boozer Shawn Marion Tim Duncan Allen Iverson
There is enough talent out here for two All-Star teams. I tried to make room for Carmelo Anthony despite his suspension, but that would have meant ignoring the indispensable contributions of Marion or Howard to the league's two best teams. Nor was it easy to omit Manu Ginobili, Mehmet Okur, Baron Davis, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Zach Randolph, Ray Allen and Kevin Martin.
EASTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES
Caron Butler Rip Hamilton Chris Bosh Jason Kidd Luol Deng Emeka Okafor Joe Johnson
Paul Pierce and Michael Redd would be on the squad, but both are injured. Shaq just didn't play enough games to warrant a berth. That leaves three openings, and since coaches have leeway to switch positions for reserves, put Bosh or Okafor at center to clear another spot. Vince Carter is a big scorer, but he hasn't done anything in terms of leadership to lift the Nets out of their doldrums. Chauncey Billups was tougher to leave off, but he missed several games recently with injury and doesn't deserve it over Gilbert Arenas or Kidd. Other tough omissions were Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Antawn Jamison, Andre Iguodala and Eddy Curry.
Eddy Curry Mo Williams Jason Kidd Luol Deng Jermaine O'Neal Emeka Okafor Joe Johnson
Ben Wallace may have grabbed the dollars and headlines, but Deng is Chicago's most complete two-way player. Okafor has bounced back from an injury-plagued '05-06 with his same defensive ferocity while improving his shooting accuracy. Don't snicker at the Curry selection; check the numbers and you'll see why the Knicks aren't the embarrassment most expected them to be. And Williams gets the nod over Michael Redd (still a little too one-dimensional) or Chauncey Billups (canceled out a bit by the Pistons' other talents) not only because of his well-rounded offense but also because he's one of the few Bucks willing to play defense.
Rip Hamilton Dwyane Wade Eddy Curry Caron Butler Jermaine O'Neal Michael Redd Ben Wallace
Paul Pierce's injury and the Wizards' rise to the top of the East make Butler an All-Star for the first time in a close vote over Joe Johnson. The one-dimensional Curry is still the best scoring center in the East, with post moves that my pick to start at center, Dwight Howard, is still looking to attain. Hamilton gets the nod over his talented Pistons teammates, who in the minds of some voters make up an All-Star team of their own.
Emeka Okafor Rip Hamilton Shaquille O'Neal Caron Butler Jermaine O'Neal Jason Kidd Joe Johnson
How can I leave Vince Carter off the team? Because I can, that's why, particularly when teammate Jason Kidd is getting 9.1 assists and 8.4 rebounds (he's a guard, remember) per game. The one exclusion that hurts is Chauncey Billups, but he's missed some games due to injury and Hamilton has carried the team. As for Shaq coming off the bench, well, he's been sitting while the Magic's Howard has been playing ... and playing extremely well.
Vince Carter Rip Hamilton Ben Wallace Chris Bosh Caron Butler Jason Kidd Chauncey Billups
As the overall standings would suggest, the pool of stars is smaller in the East than in the superior conference. The hardest omissions were Emeka Okafor, whose domination of the paint is wasted on the Bobcats; third-year players Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, who look like future All-Stars for Chicago; and Antawn Jamison and Joe Johnson, who land just behind Hamilton and Billups, respectively.