NBA: A Quick Look Ahead to All Star Weekend 2017
So we’re just over the halfway point of this year’s action-packed NBA season, a good time to take stock of where we’re at a few weeks before the 2017 All-Star Weekend. Whether you’ve been blown away by Russell Westbrook’s incredible triple-double average, the Rockets surprise package led by revitalised PG James Harden or even the relentless mastery of King James, this year has so far lived up to all expectation.
As we move into the business end of the season, online bookmakers like Betway still put the Golden State Warriors as 3/1 favourites over the Cleveland Cavaliers, closely followed by the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. The Warriors will have a far tougher task just getting to the Playoff Final though. No real surprise that players from the Warriors and the Cavs feature heavily in this year’s All Star Weekend following the starting lineup announcements a few days ago.
Let’s take a closer look at how the two conferences are shaping up before we offer our pick for who takes it.
The East: Starters
LeBron gets his 13th straight call up – testament to what a sheer force this guy has been throughout his career. At 32 years old, it looks likely he’ll at least get close to Kareem’s record of 18 All Star appearances.
James is joined by the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler in the frontcourt, as well as Giannis "The Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo who makes a well deserved All Star debut. Kyrie Irving maintains his PG spot, supported by DeMar DeRozan on shooting duties, which is pretty much true to form on both counts.
It’s a strong starting five, no doubt about it, but if anything a little on the inexperienced side. Promising for years to come, but maybe not for a few weeks time when you weigh the teams against each other.
The East: Reserves
There’s a couple of close selection shaves here. Given the remarkable season he’s having, it’s fair to say that Isaiah Thomas is unlucky not to break into the starting lineup. That said, if you had the choice between him and Irving at PG, you’d probably go with the latter more often than not, especially alongside LeBron.
Despite finishing third in the fan vote, Joel Embiid will also miss out on a starting spot. A tough break for an undeniable per-minute superstar this season. Instead, he’ll join the likes of Kevin Love and Kristaps Porzingis for the remaining frontcourt spots.
The West: Starters p class="left14"> Led by Steve Kerr this year, the West are bound to go all out on both shooting and ball movement. As has been the case for a number of years, the Western starting five looks pretty darn formidable: Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.
You’d be tempted to say that James Harden has massively outshone Curry in the point guard spot this year (at least so far). That may be the case, but let’s not take anything away from Curry’s class. Either way, having the two gives Kerr great flexibility in the backcourt.
The West: Reserves
Okay, so the big talking point here is pretty obvious. How does a guy average a triple-double and still not start!? Seriously.
As for the best of the rest, the West look pretty strong when you consider who else might be called on by Kerr. Shooter extraordinaire Klay Thompson, powerhouse DaMarcus Cousins and perhaps the league’s best example of an all-round PG, Chris Paul, are all expected to feature. But seriously. Westbrook out? Man, that’s a tough call.
The pick – If the starters stay healthy and on form, then it’s tough to look beyond the scoring power and greater all-round experience of the West here who look to extend their All Star dominance even further.
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