Get Your All-Stars!
The “Fantasy Corner” makes its picks for the ultimate exhibition game
By Adam Hoff
We’re almost to the midway point of the season, so its time to toss out my choices for the All-Star team. We’re not going with fan voting here, just the straight up best and most valuable players in the league. We’ll lean very heavily on fantasy numbers, because they really do tell us a lot … plus it will justify using the “Fantasy Corner” gimmick.
PG – Steve Nash. Here’s a tip for the NBA … get Nash on the floor for 40 minutes in the All-Star game. We might see the West score 200 points with 60 dunks. Plus, he doesn’t play any defense, so the East will score a bunch as well. Good times! Nash is leading the league in assists at 10.9 per game, while scoring 15.8 points per night and shooting .519 from the floor and .938 from the line. He’s been named midseason MVP by the majority of sportswriters and experts (incorrectly, I might add – LeBron is the midseason MVP) and is making hoops fun again.
SG – Tracy McGrady. Kobe probably had a shot here before getting hurt and Ray Allen is tough to pass on, but T-Mac’s improved play as of late gives him the nod. He’s 6th in scoring at 25.9 ppg, and is filling up the stat sheet with 6.3 rpg, 5.7 apg, and 2.1 threes a night. Plus, he has nearly half as many turnovers as Bryant and far superior defensive statistics to Allen while shooting better from the field than either of them. Houston should just give this guy that ball and get out of his way now that he’s finally avoided all those helicopters and harpoon guns.
SF – Shawn Marion. It is an absolute shame that AK-47 was on the IL for so long, but at least it opens up a spot in the lineup for the incredible Shawn Marion. The #2 rated player in fantasy, Marion is going for almost 20 and 11 every night. Plus, he’s shooting 47% from the floor, 85% from the line, and ranks fourth in the league in steals at 2.1 per game. To top it all off, he’s the only player in the league averaging over 1.5 threes and blocks per game. (Dirk and Eddie Griffin are the only other guys even close.) When you consider that he may very well have the worst shooting technique of any player in NBA history, that’s pretty impressive stuff.
PF – Kevin Garnett. Can someone please explain to me what is going on with the anti-KG sentiment? I know that the T-Wolves suck, but it’s not his fault. Yet everywhere you look, people are saying Dirk should be starting in place of KG. What? Sure, Nowitski is having a great year, but Garnett remains one of the greatest players in the world, with only LeBron making a real run at the top spot. KG’s scoring is way down this year (22 a night), but there is no one that fills up a stat sheet AND plays defense the way he does. He has twice as many assists as Dirk and accounts for more total points per game. He grabs five more rebounds per night. Same number of blocks, more steals, higher shooting percentage, fewer turnovers … I’m not sure there’s even a debate here. You add in that KG never takes a night off, is one of the great leaders in the league, and is loved by fans everywhere … I mean, let’s get real.
C – Amare Stoudemire. I didn’t plan it this way, but I’ve got three Suns in my starting lineup. That, my friends, is pretty impressive. It also makes Larry Brown look really, really bad, because two of these guys were on his Olympic team. (In addition to LeBron, Duncan, AI, and Wade, who are all MVP candidates.) Sure we needed a true point guard and some better shooters over there, but you think maybe Brown was a little bit responsible for that bronze medal? Marion came off the bench behind the ice cold Richard Jefferson and Amare pretty much never played. Whoops. The great thing about Stoudemire (other than his 26-9 every night and 58% shooting) is that he was willing to move over to play center. Not only is it nice to see a young big man get over the supposed stigma of being a center, it also makes it much easier to pick the All-Stars. Of course, the NBA was slow to catch on to this and had him as a forward on all the ballots. Great.
G – Ray Allen. He was the MVP after the first month, but has slowed down a bit recently and suffered both a viral infection and a shooting slump. Regardless, he’s been terrific in Seattle. 24-4-4 every night and is leading Seattle to one of the most surprising seasons in recent NBA history. Plus, let’s not forget, he played Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game,” which is more than enough to get him on the squad.
(Speaking of He Got Game, did anyone catch that Miami-Indiana game a while back? For some reason, Spike Lee was in the Miami crowd – I know because the ESPN cameras showed him about 15 times – and sure enough, Reggie Miller started making incredible three’s down the stretch. Does he have some sort of deal with the devil that he will make impossible threes whenever Spike is in the same building? Maybe we need to do a remake of Crossroads with Reggie playing the Ralph Macchio role and using clutch shooting instead of playing the blues. Nah.)
G – Manu Ginobilli. His place on this list isn’t quite as sturdy as it should be thanks to his fairly inconsistent minutes, but the crafty Argentine slasher is having a fabulous season. Did you see the 48 he hung on Phoenix? Good night. He’s provided San Antonio with a deep threat on the perimeter and he continues to be a menace on the defensive end, ranking seventh in the league with 1.9 steals per game. Plus, he’s giving the Spurs 16-5-5 every night while drilling threes and shooting 49% from the field. I’d say that’s pretty well rounded. (Now if Mike Breen can stop calling him “out of control” over a dozen times on ESPN telecasts, we’ll finally be getting somewhere.)
G – Kobe Bryant. This kills me. As many of you know, I am not a big fan of Bryant. He sells out teammates, fakes injuries, and hogs the ball. He’s one of the most talented players in the league, he plays hard, and he’s been responsible for keeping a pretty bad team (his own fault) above .500. Sure, he leads the league in turnovers and has the lowest field goal percentage on this squad, but 27-7-6 is hard to ignore. He’s not making my “All-Human Beings” team and he’s nowhere close to being an MVP, but even I can concede that he’s an All-Star.
F – Dirk Nowitski. Dirk is having a career year. Nearly 27 points a night to go with 9.8 boards. He’s hitting threes and has improved his defensive statistics dramatically. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to move him past KG into the power forward spot. I give him the edge over Duncan though, because he’s got better fantasy numbers and is more fun to watch. Plus, it’s great to see him growing his hair out again.
F – Tim Duncan. To hear people talk about MVP candidates, you would think that Duncan was having a career year. The truth is that his numbers are down across the board and that Ginobili and Tony Parker are the reason the Spurs are at the crazy next level. Nevertheless, he’s an All-Star by any measurement. 21-12 with 2.8 blocks per game (second in the league). He’s still horrible from the free throw line and he really didn’t even try in the Olympics (I’m still bitter), but he’s the best lowpost player in the game and a member of this squad.
F – Rashard Lewis. He edges out Peja because he’s hitting just as many threes (107, good for sixth in the league), shooting a higher percentage, grabbing more boards, and blocking shots. All of their other stats are about the same and they are both key options for winning teams. Plus, according to my good friend Nick, Lewis is just about the nicest guy you could ever meet, while Peja is a big baby that doesn’t play hard when he doesn’t get his way. Works for me.
F – Elton Brand. Toughest selection to make, because it means leaving off a host of deserving players. However, Brand is a guy that brings professionalism, energy, and consistent production every night. He is the key to a Clippers team that is more competitive than ever (even though any hope of the playoffs is already long gone) and one of the truly dependable fantasy options. 20-10 with great shooting and plenty of blocks.
C – Brad Miller. His numbers aren’t quite as good as they were at the break last year (when his 15/10.6/4.8 made him the first center to average that since 1978-79), but he’s still significantly better than Yao – especially from a fantasy perspective. He’s averaging nearly 16-9-4 to go with 1.2 blocks and steals (second among centers), and is shooting over 53% from the field and 80% from the line. Plus, he has some sweet tattoos.
Just Missed: Mike Bibby (having a career season), AK-47 (only the injury keeps him off, obviously), and Chris Webber (great numbers, no D whatsoever), and Peja.
Additional Apologies to: Quentin Richardson, Pau Gasol, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming, and Jason Richardson.
Tomorrow we’ll be back with the Eastern Conference choices.
Adam Hoff is a columnist for WhatifSports.com and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers of America. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by sitemail at adamo112.