Thursday, February 03, 2011

Love, Aldridge headline list of All-Star snubs

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - Full disclosure forces me to point out
that I've never been all that big of a fan of All-Star games. In fact, I have
a very tough time figuring out people who like these types of things.

I was stunned the NFL's Pro Bowl recorded its best television ratings in 11
years last weekend, and I'm even more surprised that the NHL is still
considered a major league sport after its embarrassing, rinky-dink playground
All-Star format was unleashed on dozens of unsuspecting viewers via Versus on
channel 2,046 of my local cable outlet. After all, when you come up with a
gimmick that would make Bill Veeck or Vince McMahon blush, it's
probably a pretty comforting thought knowing no one is actually watching your
product.

Over in the NBA, things are slightly better. Unlike those other sports the
game of basketball actually lends itself quite well to an All-Star format.
That said, in the grand scheme of things, the actual NBA contest, like all the
rest, is meaningless.

The honor, however, is anything but. Being named an All-Star is still a major
deal for NBA players, whether it's a veteran on the downside of a spectacular
career like Tim Duncan, or a first-timer like Blake Griffin. Missing the cut,
meanwhile, is often a tough pill to swallow, especially when All-Star
appearances don't dot the resume on a yearly basis.

For the most part, the league's coaches, who pick the reserves, do an
outstanding job. Very few players have much to complain about this season with
a few notable exceptions.

So, with that in mind, let's look at the biggest snubs for the 2011 NBA
All-Star Game set for Feb. 20 in Los Angeles...


1. - Kevin Love - Forward - Minnesota Timberwolves

Last week I wrote a column about K-Love called "When an All-Star is not an
All-Star." Love's numbers are unquestionably All-Star worthy but his
teammates, coaches and organization let him down. Minnesota is just so bad
that the West's coaches didn't feel comfortable honoring any player from the
club. That's why a guy who leads The Association in rebounding and double-
doubles, while recording the first 30-30 game in nearly 30 years will have to
wait at least another year.

"Kevin Love not making the All-Star team was a travesty," TNT analyst and
former All-Star Charles Barkley said. "Kevin Love is leading the league in
rebounding and you can talk all you want about being on a good team or a bad
team. [There is] no way you can get 15 rebounds a game even on a bad team and
that not be impressive."

Love, however, could be David Stern's pick as Yao Ming's injury replacement.


2. - LaMarcus Aldridge - Forward - Portland Trail Blazers

Aldridge was a victim of numbers. The West is loaded with stud power forwards
and the Texas product failed to overcome the reputations of players like Tim
Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, despite being the only player out West averaging at
least 20 points, nine rebounds and one steal per game, while carrying an
injury-plagued Portland team on his back.

"I think you should take three guys off (the Spurs) when you win that many
games," TNT's Kenny Smith said when queried about Duncan's selection. "You're
not winning 35-36 games and beating the league, you're destroying the league.
[Duncan] is the best defensive player on that team."


3. - Monta Ellis - Guard - Golden State

Ellis is the best pure scorer that was snubbed. A true combo guard that can
beat just about anyone off the dribble, the slender Ellis fills it up to the
tune of over 25.0 points a night but the Warriors just haven't made enough
progress.


4. - Carlos Boozer - Forward - Chicago Bulls

Boozer probably can't complain all that much since he missed so much time with
injuries but the Bulls have been so good when he's on the floor, you can
certainly argue he was more deserving than a Joe Johnson, who has also missed
a significant amount of time with an injury.

Smith disagreed, however. "[Johnson] is too hard to guard and he is
appreciated by the NBA coaches," the former point guard said. "The Atlanta
Hawks are a dangerous team and that's why he got in."


5. - Lamar Odom - Forward/Center - Los Angeles Lakers

Perhaps the most skilled big man in the game, Odom is another victim of the
numbers game out West. Mr. Kardashian averages a near double-double at 15.4
ppg and 9.6 rebounds, along with 2.9 assists. His length along with the
ability to play any position on the front line and facilitate the offense,
makes him one of the toughest pure matchups in the NBA.


6. - Luol Deng - Forward - Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose is the MVP candidate in Chicago, the injured Joakim Noah is the
defensive stopper and Boozer is the consistent low-post presence, but Deng has
been the glue-guy for the Bulls all season. The Duke product is the one
constant for Tom Thibodeau in an injury-filled season, helping Chicago run
away from the rest of the Central Division and compete with Miami for the
second seed in the East.


7. - Raymond Felton - Guard - New York Knicks

Felton has faltered a bit recently but is having a career-year under coach
Mike D'Antoni in Gotham and has teamed with All-Star power forward Amare
Stoudemire to make the Knicks relevant again.

"I definitely thought Raymond Felton should be a part of the team because you
look at Amare Stoudemire. A lot of people questioned if he would do as well as
he's doing without [former Suns teammate] Steve Nash," former Kings All-Star
Chris Webber said. "But (Felton) has come in and not only has he played well
in New York but look at how (his former team) Charlotte is doing without him."


8. - Zach Randolph - Forward - Memphis Grizzlies

Another double-double machine out West, Randolph is one of the best low post
scorers in the game and would be a gimmee if he played in the much-thinner
Eastern Conference.

"Trying to find All-Stars in the Eastern Conference is like going into a bar
and trying to pick up a bunch of ugly girls -- someone has to win," Barkley
deadpanned.

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