Coach Moreau’s East All-Stars
From Hoopsworld. I’ve been asked to pick my Eastern Conference All-Stars based on the first quarter of the NBA season. I looked at a combination of which players are having the best individual seasons, who is playing a significant role in the success of their team, and which guys are just simply the best players in the conference.
There are some very good players having excellent years who aren’t on this team, and these choices are not easy when you get down to the last few spots. But, certain things about each player have different appeal to fans, coaches and voters. And, a lot can happen between now and the All-Star break, so things can change over the course of the next 20-30 games.
There are some guys knocking on the door and there will be some angry omitted players. To them I say, “Play so well that it’s impossible to omit you next time.”
Here’s who I like at this point:
PG – Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets: 24.4 pts, 6.1 asts, 1.3 stls
Harris has Nets fans saying, “Jason who?” He has rejuvenated the Nets, saved Lawrence Frank, and re-energized Vince Carter. Harris scores, creates, and puts pressure on any defense with his speed and aggressiveness, leads all point guards in scoring, and gets to the foul line more than anyone in the East except Dwight Howard. 2008-09 has been an absolutely breathtaking breakout year for him, and deserves the start in this game at this point in the season.
SG -Dwyane Wade, Miami HEAT: 29.5 pts, 7.5 asts, 5.0 rebs
A healthy Wade means he is tearing up the league and in the MVP conversation. Pick the superlative: athletic, explosive and creative. Wade can’t be guarded and is carrying the HEAT on his back to the playoffs. The NBA’s leading scorer also leads Eastern Conference two guards in assists, steals and blocks. He does it all in spectacular fashion. Fans forgot very quickly just how good he is.
SF – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: 26.8 pts, 6.3 asts, 6.8 rebs
James is having another monster year and front runner for the MVP. Just how much better can he get? This year he is an improved shooter and better than credited defender – he’s the best player in the league right now. No one can stop him, and he has his team roaring through the first part of the regular season. James leads Eastern small forwards in scoring, assists, steals and field goal percentage.
PF – Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics: 16.4 pts, 9.4 rebs, 1.4 blks
Don’t worry about his stats. Defense, leadership and inspirational on-court presence, as well as plenty of offense inside and out, still come from KG. Garnett is a vocal and inspirational leader, as well as the defensive anchor of the league’s best team. There isn’t a player in the NBA or owner who wouldn’t want this guy on their team. He epitomizes the “power” in power forward.
C – Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic: 21.2 pts, 14.5 rebs, 4.0 blks
Superman is blocking more shots this year and continues to anchor the explosive Magic. Howard has to defend all by himself at times, and regularly takes on entire front lines on his own. He also leads Eastern Centers in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. His best years are still ahead of him, which is a truly frightening thought.
PG -Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics: 10.3 pts, 7.6 asts, 2.2 stls
Rondo proved his value when the Celts bogged down in the Finals by coming back in Game 6 and wreaking havoc on the Lakers. This year he picked up where he left off, as he creates all kinds of opportunities for his teammates on offense and disrupts with his active defense. Rondo is the speed, quickness and engine that powers the league’s best team, and leads all Eastern point guards in FG% and Rebounding.
SG – Joe Johnson, Atlanta Hawks: 23.0 pts, 5.2 asts, 4.4 rebs
The NBA’s eighth-leading scorer and one of the most steady two guards in the league, Johnson is a physical veteran who can score outside, drive or post up smaller guards. He’s option number one on an up-and-coming Atlanta team that has it’s sights on playoff advancement. His play so far says he can carry the Hawks deep into May.
SG – Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets: 22.5 pts, 5.0 asts, 4.7 rebs
Carter is having a great year on a resurgent Nets squad after getting comfortable with the “superstar on a mediocre team” role. Shooting the highest percentage from the field in his career so far this season, Carter can still make the spectacular play and be the man at the end of the game. He and Harris should just get even better together as the year goes on.
SG – Ray Allen, Boston Celtics: 19.2 pts, 2.7 asts, 3.6 rebs
Allen shook off his playoff nightmare to elevate his play in the Finals, and is having one of his most efficient seasons in his career . His mid-range game just keeps getting better as he is still a threat to bury it from deep, shooting 50% from the field, 39% from three-point range and 92% from the free throw line.
SF – Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics: 18.2 pts, 3.5 asts, 6.0 rebs
The numbers aren’t spectacular, but the production is and Pierce is as good down the stretch a crunch time player as there is in the NBA. By playing his role within the Big 3 Pierce is helping to lay the groundwork for another title. Pierce can take his game to a level only a handful of players in the league can reach when called upon.
SF/PF – Rashard Lewis, Orlando Magic: 19.0 pts, 2.0 asts, 6.2 rebs
Lewis is silently having an excellent year on the East’s third-best team. He plays in that “double small forward” lineup, has rebounded better and shown signs of being more inclined to mix it up inside so far this season. Lewis can kill you from the perimeter or take it into the midrange.
PF – Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors: 24.9 pts, 10.1 rebs, 52% FG
Bosh wowed the world with his all-around play in the Olympics, and continues doing the same so far this year. Continuing to carry the load for Toronto, although the help he thought he was getting hasn’t shown up, Bosh just battles every night and produces big. Toronto’s underachievement isn’t because of him. Bosh leads Eastern power forwards in scoring and assists.
C – Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cleveland Cavaliers: 14.8 pts, 7.6 rebs, 1.2 blks
Big Z doesn’t get it done with anything spectacular and his stats aren’t overwhelming, but he gets dirty work done with a big body, monster screens, a reliable shot, and a defensive presence. He’s a load inside for the East’s second-best team, and you have to account for his shooting and size when you play the Cavs.
C – Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks: 11.2 pts, 8.1 rebs, 2.4 asts
Horford is a young talent who just brings heart and fight to the court every night. He uses his athleticism and toughness to take on the league’s best in the paint and his interior play was a big part of Atlanta’s near upset of the Celtics in last year’s playoffs. Horford is a cornerstone of the Hawks’ current and future success, giving you everything a playoff team needs from his position.
Those are my picks – what are yours? Make your case in the comments below!
–Devin Harris won’t be starting due to the fan voting. Allen Iverson will be starting. Which means Devin Harris will be picked by the Eastern Conference coaches to the all-star bench. There is a lot of haters of the Celtics and Rajon Rondo but he’s been better than Jose Calderon and leads a better team and Derrick Rose is just a rookie and coaches never pick rookies to the all-star team. So I agree that Rondo should make the all-star team. The other question marks on this list is Al Horford and Rashard Lewis. Why not Richard Hamilton?