Monday, Jan. 31, 2011
By Mark Schanowski
In a word, yes. Problem is, while Carlos Boozers averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds a game are All-Star worthy, hes missed 18 out of a possible 47 games because of hand and ankle injuries. Joakim Noah probably would have made the Eastern Conference team as the back-up center to Dwight Howard, but Noah has been out since mid-December because of a hand injury of his own.
And, what about Luol Deng, you ask? Hes been one of the NBAs top perimeter defenders this season, earning praise from head coach Tom Thibodeau after almost every game. His averages of about 18 points and six rebounds a game might not suggest an All-Star appearance, but they compare favorably with other players who are in line for reserve spots like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh.
As weve found out over the last decade, NBA coaches tend to favor players from winning teams when they cast their votes for All-Star reserves. Miami figures to get three players on the squad, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh, while Boston is also likely to have three representatives, Pierce, Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Since the Bulls have caught the Heat in the Conference standings, it certainly makes sense for them to have a 2nd representative.
So, here are my picks for the Eastern Conference reserves, which will be announced Thursday night during TNTs national coverage. Center, Al Horford, Hawks. Forwards, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Boston. Guards, Rajon Rondo, Boston and Raymond Felton, Knicks. Wild card picks (two per conference) Chris Bosh, Miami and Carlos Boozer, Bulls.
Okay, I know Ive got too many power forwards on the squad, but in my mind, Boozer deserves the final spot over guys like Deng, Danny Granger, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson. Even though Boozers missed 18 games, hes given the Bulls the low post scoring threat theyve been missing for years. And, his vocal leadership on and off the floor has also been a big plus. When it comes time to tip things off in Los Angeles on February 20th, the Eastern Conference coach can use Pierce as his back-up shooting guard, and play Bosh some at the small forward spot. Hey, its an All-Star game, who cares which position the guys are playing?
Over in the West, my reserve picks would be: Center, Pau Gasol, Lakers. Forwards, Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas and Blake Griffin, Clippers. Guards, Deron Williams, Utah and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City. Wild cards, Manu Ginobili, San Antonio and LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland.
Its tough to leave out guys like Kevin Love, Steve Nash, David West, Kevin Martin and Monta Ellis, but unfortunately, theres only room for 12 guys on the roster. Hopefully, commissioner David Stern will give the Spurs a 2nd representative by naming Tim Duncan as the injury replacement for Yao Ming, who was voted in as the Wests starting center.
So, what do you think? Please post your thoughts on the All-Star reserves in the section below.
The Bulls start their two-week Western swing with a rematch against former coach Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers Wednesday night. All told, theyll play five games on the trip, three of them against teams with winning records (Portland, Utah and New Orleans). Im thinking 3-2. Let me know your prediction in the comments section.
Ill see you Wednesday night at 9 p.m. for the pre-game show on Comcast SportsNet before the Bulls-Clippers game.
Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10 p.m.