In the world according to Lloydybird…
- Davis (28.4 PER) – hands down the best big man in the league unless and until Embiid or Towns take the mantle.
- Durant (27.4 PER) – doing what he always does, which makes him a top-5 player in the league and a clear cut All-star starter.
- Leonard (28.4 PER) – you really need to take in some San Antonio games just to see the two or three utterly ridiculous defensive plays he makes (that nobody else in the league can make) EVERY game. And he’s now scoring around 25 a game.
- Harden (27.8 PER) – how’s that trade looking now OKC? Very unlucky that Westbrook is putting together a triple-double season. Would otherwise be the MVP front-runner.
- Westbrook (29.7 PER) – it’s official: nobody can stop him. Just give him the MVP award already.
- Curry (23.4 PER) – this is the price he has to pay for incorporating Durant into the Warriors – combined with the fact that Harden and Westbrook are playing at insanely high levels.
- Cousins (27.1 PER) – don’t buy this nonsense that he’s the best big man in the game. Do you really think New Orleans would trade Davis for him? Do you think Minnesota would trade Towns for him? Or Philly Embiid? Still, he’s a fantastic player and perennial All-star. I’m just not buying the ‘superstar’ cool aid.
- Green (18.2 PER) – like Curry, he’s lost a chunk on his overall efficiency numbers due to Durant. But make no mistake, this guy is the defensive lynch-pin that the entire Warriors team rests on and their primary offensive facilitator.
- Paul (27.5 PER) – will probably miss the game due to injury. His credentials are otherwise obvious.
- Towns (22.6 PER) – if he keeps improving then this will be the first of many consecutive All-star games for him.
- Hayward (22.9 PER) – he’s been the best player on a top-8 team in the league and clearly deserves this spot.
West notable snubs
- Conley (22.2 PER) – his team is playing well and so is he – but he ain’t Westbrook, Harden, Paul or Curry and four point guards are enough given all the available talent at the other positions.
- Lillard (23.4 PER) – see above for Conley (minus the team playing well thing). Given his extra minutes played and flashier scoring capabilities, I’d probably take him over Conley as Paul’s replacement (looking likely). It’s not like anyone cares about defense in All-star games anyway.
- Griffin (22.2 PER) – Towns is playing better basketball this season and has played more games too. Griffin really needs to take stock and kick it up another notch – or else he’ll find himself overtaken in a hurry and not the perennial All-star he might have thought he was.
- Gasol (20.4 PER) – I was going to say that it was between him and Griffin (and that I like my All-star games on the dunkier side), but Griffin didn’t make the cut here, so Gasol drops down another notch.
- Jordan (20.7 PER) – his defense and rebounding deserve credit, but he better get used to being snubbed as long as he’s in the West with Davis, Towns and Cousins around… and Jokic… and Gobert.
West honorable mentions
- Jokic (25.3 PER) – this guy can really play and is doing so at a clear cut All-star level. However, due to the retarded coaching regime in Denver, he was barely playing at the start of the season and 25 minutes per game is not enough to make it onto this stacked West roster.
- Hill (22.7 PER) – he’s playing at a level so far above his career norms it’s ridiculous. However, he’s been unlucky with injuries and 17 games simply isn’t enough.
- McCollum (21.1 PER) – fast becoming the second coming of Lillard. Could he end up as the better player some day? Given the elevated numbers he puts up when Lillard is out, it’ll soon be time for a team somewhere to hand him the keys. Interesting times ahead in Portland.
- Gobert (22.0 PER) – his proper arrival on the scene two years ago transformed Utah and largely gave it the identity it has today. However, much like Jordan, he’ll struggle to make All-star games due to the offensive and overall superiority of Davis, Towns and Cousins.
- Embiid (23.9 PER) – so what if he’s a rookie? He’s already the best big man in the East. Some people are putting Antetekounmpo here so that they can start DeRozan. I wouldn’t – not when Embiid is averaging 33.3pts, 13.6reb and 3.7 blk per 40 minutes in January so far (it was 29.0pts, 10.0reb and 3.5 blk per 40 minutes in December by the way).
- James (25.9 PER) – he’s barely raising a sweat and still posting the 11th best PER in the league. The problem is that the number of younger and hungrier stars chasing him is growing by the day. At some point, it won’t be a simple matter of flipping the switch for LeBron when he needs it – as he’ll have been overtaken. That said, he’s still the best player in the league for now and should be again next season too.
- Antetekounmpo (28.2 PER) – watching Cavs vs Bucks games, you can already see the sheer desire in the Greek Freak’s eyes to usurp LeBron’s supremacy. Give it another two more seasons and I reckon he’ll be comfortably there. Yes, comfortably.
- Butler (26.0 PER) – somewhat lost in Chicago’s recruiting mess and utterly predictable season of mediocrity has been Butler’s incredible play – which has been at a borderline superstar level. Chicago needs to stop teaming him up with guys that get in his way and start finding some true complimentary talent.
- Thomas (27.0 PER) – how did this guy fall to the no. 60 pick in the draft? Why did Sacramento and Phoenix get rid of him so cheaply? Thomas has been the main reason behind Boston’s success over the last two years and the best point guard in the East so far this season. While he’s not the greatest on defense, neither is Irving, Curry or Lillard.
- Whiteside (22.0 PER) – remember when people were worried that he wouldn’t be able to perform consistently at this level of play?
- Love (22.8 PER) – I haven’t seen a player’s career hinge on one play like this since Nick Anderson bricked those free throws in Game 1 on the 1995 Finals. Whatever it was, Curry’s missed three at the end of Game 7 last season helped Kevin Love find something that wasn’t there before. Something people like me never thought he would find.
- Wall (23.7 PER) – has almost single handedly pulled the Wizards out of their early season mire and into the playoff race. An incredible player who doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves – largely because the Wizards are run by a bunch of flies buzzing around a piece of dung.
- DeRozan (25.5 PER) – would have every right to be aggrieved if he doesn’t start. That said, Embiid, LeBron, Greek Freak, Butler and Thomas are all playing at a special level and deserve to start ahead of him in my opinion – especially with DeRozan shooting 24.1% from down town.
- Lowry (24.1 PER) – still playing at an unbelievably high level and shooting 44.4% from outside to boot.
- Walker (22.1 PER) – I think we’re witnessing peak level Kemba this season: a borderline All-star who put it together for long enough to make it in for one (or two) All-star games. I don’t think he has anything more than this. Still, pretty damn good all things considered.
- Irving (21.4 PER) – supremely talented and probably the best PG in the East on his day – but clearly not putting in 100%. In other words, more than good enough to make the team.
East notable snubs
- Howard (22.7 PER) – this one was really close, but in the end Whiteside won out due to having played an extra four minutes per game (29mpg vs 33 mpg) and having a superior usage rate (21.4% vs 18.4% at the time of writing). Oh, and nobody likes Dwight. So there’s that too.
- Drummond (21.1 PER) – two centers is more than enough for this roster and Drummond’s game isn’t really good on the eye for All-star purposes anyway. He’s also not been as good as Howard or Whiteside this season either.
- Wade (18.8 PER) – he’s playing at a borderline All-star level and adding him would have helped fill in the ‘shooting guard’ quota. However, Wall, Irving, Lowry, Thomas and Walker are all playing better basketball this season and I’m not one for ‘lifetime achievement’ All-star berths.
- Anthony (19.4 PER) – he’s never been a superstar and now he’s not even an All-star or the best player on his own team. If he swallows his pride and wants to be the third wheel on a contender, then he might still earn a championship. Something tells me that Vegas would let you choose your odds on that one happening.
- George (18.9 PER) – I really thought he was ready to take that next step this season, being the second one back from his horrific leg break. Sadly, it just hasn’t happened and is a big reason why Indiana has been disappointing so far.
East honorable mentions
- Turner (20.3 PER) – between his sweet outside jump shooting and shot blocking, he’s a pleasure to watch. Given that he’s already at this level at such an early stage, the question is how high is this guy’s ceiling?
- Parker (19.9 PER) – I never thought he’d get to this level of play but he has. Something clicked for him late last season and he’s kept going ever since. It’s now a genuine question as to whether he should have been taken ahead of Wiggins in the 2014 draft.
- Porzingis (18.2 PER) – after a strong start, he’s dropped off lately – largely due to a worrying Achilles injury. Given the frequency with which guys over 7’0” have constant foot problems (Staps is 7’3” by the way), it’s a genuine worry.