Yesterday, I laid out my ballot for the East. Today, the conference Iâ€™m a little more familiar with, the West.
Guards: Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. Just missed out, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Sam Cassell. Yes, itâ€™s a Laker blog, so you knew Kobe was going to get a vote, but I think itâ€™s more than justified. Kobe has a PER of 26.3, eighth best in the NBA right now. Last year, a lot of writers made this their Steve Nash for MVP argument: â€œLook how bad they were without him.â€ Well, look at those two Laker games against lowly Utah without Kobe and tell me how valuable he is to this team. While weâ€™ve mentioned Nash, itâ€™s not easy to choose between him and Tony Parker, but Iâ€™m leaning to Nash because he is averaging 11.8 assists to 4.3 turnovers per 40 minutes, while Parker is at 7.3 assists and 3.5 turnovers. Yes, very different styles of play for those two, and Parker is a better defender, but the two are very close. So it comes down to this â€” I like watching Steve Nash play a little more. He should try to up the tempo in the All Star game, just because nobody is going to play defense.
Forwards: Elton Brand and Dirk Nowitzki. Just missed Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Tracy McGrady, Shawn Marion. By far this is the deepest area on the ballot, Iâ€™m leaving six legitimate All-Stars out, and there are a host of guys not mentioned you could make arguments for. So this is my idea to spice up next yearâ€™s All-Star game: The Western Conference forwards against the rest of the league. Your starting five: Lamar Odom at the point (heâ€™s essentially playing that spot in LA), McGrady at the two, Nowitzki at the three, Garnett at the four and Duncan at the five. You still bring Brand, C. Anthony, Gasol and Marion off the bench, with Maggette, Peja and Kirilenko right behind them. Now tell me that wouldnâ€™t be a better All-Star game.
In the first half of this season, Dirk and Elton have raised their games to new levels â€” and pulled their teams up along with them. Dirk has a PER of 28 (second in the league), a true shooting percentage of 57.5% and is pulling down 14.1% of the available rebounds when on the floor. Brand has a PER of 27.9 (third in the league), a ts% of 58.7% and is pulling down 15.2% of the available rebounds. Think the Bulls could use that right about now?
Center: Marcus Camby. Just missed, Yao Ming and Mehmet Okur. Yes, Camby is down with an injury â€” surprise, surprise, surprise â€” but I wanted to reward a breakout year for him. Until he broke something, anyway. He has averaged 19.4 points per 40 minutes shooting 54.3% (ts%), while grabbing 21.7% of the available rebounds while on the floor. Ming is having another solid year, and Okur is there to shoot a lot in a game when his defense will fit in with everyone elseâ€™s.
Shawn Marion, not Sean.
Thanks, it’s corrected.