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Posted: Wednesday January 20, 2010 3:39PM; Updated: Wednesday January 20, 2010 6:45PM
SI.com's NBA All-Star Picks
The fans' selections for All-Star Game starters will be revealed Thursday night. The coaches' reserve choices will be announced Jan. 28. Which players deserve a trip to Dallas for the Feb. 14 midseason showcase? Four SI.com NBA writers make their picks below. For the starting lineup, the writers chose players at the position at which they're listed on the official ballot. For reserves, writers were given more leeway -- just as the coaches are in rounding out the rosters with two guards, two forwards, a center and two wild-card picks. (All stats and records are through Tuesday.)
 
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
GUARD
Dwyane Wade   SI CONSENSUS PICK
Miami Heat
5 career All-Star appearances
PPG RPG APG SPG
27.2 4.8 6.2 1.9
Ian Thomsen: Dwyane Wade. He isn't quite the intimidating presence he was last year, but let's not take Wade for granted: He leads Miami in points, assists, steals and, at 6-foot-4, ranks No. 2 in blocks. No guard in the East comes close to rivaling his impact.
Jack McCallum: Dwyane Wade. There's an undesirable part of Wade's game that I've just begun to really notice: He's a bad three-point shooter (29.2 percent) and he probably takes too many of them (3.3 per game). But if he stays in one piece -- that's a big if -- he's a guaranteed All-Star for at least the next half-dozen years.
Chris Mannix: Dwyane Wade. Wade's numbers have dipped slightly across the board from last season, but his body continues to hold up (he hasn't missed a game) and he is still a one-man force propping up Miami in the playoff race.
Paul Forrester: Dwyane Wade. If his high production is a step down from last year's otherworldly numbers, the Heat will gladly take it. Along with LeBron James, Wade is the only player in the 2010 free-agent class who can single-handedly turn around a franchise.
GUARD
Joe Johnson
Atlanta Hawks
3 All-Star appearances
PPG RPG APG FT%
21.3 4.9 4.8 83.3
Ian Thomsen: Joe Johnson. So controversial was the expensive 2005 sign-and-trade for Johnson that it fractured the Hawks' ownership, leading to a court fight that has yet to be resolved. But Johnson's $70 million contract was a strong investment. His leadership skills have improved each year, culminating (for the moment) in the underfunded Hawks' rise to No. 3 in the East. Johnson creates for others but isn't afraid to take and make the biggest shots himself. A real star.
Jack McCallum: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics. You think it was easy becoming a leader with personalities as strong as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett around? Plus, the kid's a terrific defender, not that that means anything in an All-Star Game.
Chris Mannix: Joe Johnson. The most overlooked superstar in the league -- and I don't care how many times we say it, it's still true -- is having his usual productive season. The difference is that Atlanta, with Jamal Crawford coming off the bench, is now a legitimate title contender. Johnson deserves recognition for that.
Paul Forrester: Rajon Rondo. Rondo's growing leadership, along with his play at both ends of the court, has kept the Celtics running relatively smoothly while nagging injuries have scrambled the rest of the lineup. Boston's Big Three now has a fourth.
FORWARD
LeBron James   SI CONSENSUS PICK
Cleveland Cavaliers
5 All-Star appearances
PPG RPG APG FG%
29.6 7.2 7.8 51.0
Ian Thomsen: LeBron James. He continues to lead at both ends of the floor, shooting a career-high percentage from the field and helping the Cavs rank No. 3 in field-goal defense. James and Kobe Bryant will be fighting over the MVP award again, followed possibly by a best-of-seven series for the most important trophy of them all.
Jack McCallum: LeBron James. If James ever plays for a team on which he can get his scoring down to, say, 23 a game so he can truly become a point guard in the Magic mold, he could come close to the Oscar Robertson triple-double-season standard.
Chris Mannix: LeBron James. It seems almost effortless for him to put together that stat line. Now if he would only enter the dunk contest ...
Paul Forrester: LeBron James. Kobe may be better in the clutch, but no one has a greater impact on a game than the reigning MVP. And to think he hasn't even hit his prime.
FORWARD
Chris Bosh
Toronto Raptors
3 All-Star appearances
PPG RPG APG FG%
23.8 11.1 2.0 52.3
Ian Thomsen: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics. Chris Bosh has the better numbers, but consider this: For 11 months now, Pierce has been driving the depleted Celtics (without a healthy Kevin Garnett) to remain the No. 2 team in the East. He is a gamer true to the Celtics' tradition, whether helping to guard the best opponent, creating for teammates or taking on the big plays. Garnett will earn more votes from fans and Bosh will do better in fantasy leagues, but neither star deserves to start ahead of Pierce this year.
Jack McCallum: Chris Bosh. He probably wouldn't be starting if Kevin Garnett had been healthy, but he's a reliable scorer and gets every rebound he should, so he's a deserving choice. But why can't I love him with my whole heart? Maybe he needs to pop somebody with an elbow once in a while.
Chris Mannix: Chris Bosh. Bosh was already good. Contract-year Bosh is better. He leads the league in double-doubles (30) and his numbers are up in virtually every major offensive category.
Paul Forrester: Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks. He's finally stopped trying to be a three-point shooter and is focusing on his strengths: driving into the paint, working the offensive glass and wreaking havoc on defense. It's why the Hawks have graduated from wannabe to actual contender.
CENTER
Dwight Howard   SI CONSENSUS PICK
Orlando Magic
3 All-Star appearances
PPG RPG BPG FG%
17.0 13.1 2.5 60.5
Ian Thomsen: Dwight Howard. He has been attempting three fewer shots per game while making room in the offense for Vince Carter, but Howard continues to be the league's dominating presence in the paint and on the boards while keeping Orlando within reach of a return to the NBA Finals. Unless Yao Ming makes an Ilgauskas-like recovery from his latest foot surgery to create a rivalry, the 24-year-old Howard looks like he'll be the NBA's No. 1 center well into his 30s.
Jack McCallum: Dwight Howard. He may be the most limited offensive player in history who's fun to watch, which isn't, I suppose, much of a compliment. But this much is certain: Besides LeBron and Kobe in the West, Howard is the easiest starting pick.
Chris Mannix: Dwight Howard. Even if Howard didn't score -- and his numbers are down from last season as he tries to figure out how to play with Vince Carter -- he's a shoo-in for defense alone. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year leads the NBA in rebounds, blocks and where-is-he? looks from penetrating guards (too many to count).
Paul Forrester: Dwight Howard. He may not enjoy the nightly muggings from opponents, but Howard should take it as a measure of respect -- and desperation -- other teams feel when facing him. Once he starts countering those measures more than complaining about them, the league is in for even more trouble.
EASTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES
Ian Thomsen: The toughest decisions included omitting Kevin Garnett, who has been either sidelined by or recovering from knee injuries, and choosing Ray Allen over Vince Carter (doomed by his 38.6 percent shooting). Rajon Rondo (pictured) is a sure thing as the best point guard in the East, while Josh Smith and Gerald Wallace are more than worthy. With 11 franchises near or below .500 -- I have a hard time awarding players from losing teams -- this becomes the weakest All-Star team I can remember. Chris Bosh is the only reserve who could compete for a spot in the superior conference. G Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
G Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
G Mo Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers
F Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
F Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
F Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
C Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Jack McCallum: No Kevin Garnett? Too many injuries. I never thought I'd be putting Josh Smith on an All-Star team, but his talent seems at last to have surpassed his wildness. Antawn Jamison is probably the least-known productive player of the last decade, Gerald Wallace (pictured) has the Bobcats above .500 and David Lee has gone to the next level. It hurts not to put Shaq on this team, but he is dividing the Cavs' center position with Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I know the fans want Allen Iverson to start, but I'd rather see rookie Brandon Jennings (who admittedly has struggled lately). G Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
G Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
F Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
F Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
F Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
F Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards
C David Lee, New York Knicks
Chris Mannix: Paul Pierce has been Paul Pierce, KG's All-Star status has never been about the numbers and Rajon Rondo's dynamic offensive season nudges him past Ray Allen on Boston's depth chart. Gerald Wallace's scoring (18.5 points) and spike in rebounding (up nearly four per game from last season, to 11.3) earn him a spot. David Lee (pictured) is too consistent to overlook. Al Horford gets a nod for manning the middle on a division leader. G Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
G Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
F Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
F Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
F David Lee, New York Knicks
F Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
C Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Paul Forrester: Chris Bosh was the hardest name to leave off the starting squad, but Josh Smith has had a greater impact with the Hawks, who still will go as far as Joe Johnson takes them. Antawn Jamison hasn't saved the Wizards, but he's been a model stretch power forward while offering a sane voice in the Washington wilderness. Speaking of sanity, any All-Star game without Paul Pierce (pictured) may not have any. Gerald Wallace is finally seeing his underrated efforts go toward a playoff push in Charlotte. David Lee shows up every night for the Knicks. Derrick Rose has gradually regained the form that he showed in last season's playoffs against the Celtics. G Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
G Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
F Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
F Antawn Jamison, Washington Wizards
F Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
F Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
C David Lee, New York Knicks
WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR PICKS
 

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