The seven reserves to be named to the 2016 NBA West All-Star team selected by the league’s head coaches will be announced live on TNT Thursday January 28 at 7 pm ET right before the network features All-Star starter Carmelo Anthony and the 10th place Knicks in Toronto to face All-Star starter Kyle Lowry and the 2nd place Raptors at 8 pm. The coaches will select two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at any position.
Already voted in by the fans are guards Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook plus frontcourt players Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. As a result, the Kobe farewell tour gets a big boost from the fans, but All-Star Weekend is supposed to be for the fans anyway and the league’s leading MVP candidates, Curry and Leonard, were voted in.
Although coaches are under no obligation to consider fan voting in their selections (thank goodness), players with the most fan votes that missed cut in the fan vote include:
- Zaza Pachulia (768,112 votes)
- Draymond Green (726,616 votes)
- Blake Griffin (651,860 votes)
- Enes Kanter (534,499 votes)
- Tim Duncan (431,087 votes)
- Chris Paul (624,334 votes)
- Klay Thompson (555,513 votes)
- James Harden (430,777 votes)
- Manu Ginobili (226,289 votes)
- Rajon Rondo (200,518 votes)
Our predictions for the best of the rest not voted onto the All-Star team in the Western Conference are:
Guard James Harden 27.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7 assists, Rockets 7th place at 24-22
James Harden is the second highest scorer in the NBA and highest scorer not voted to an All-Star team this year. Sure the Rockets had a slow start to the season, but they have started to bounce back and how can the league’s second most prolific scorer not be invited to Toronto?
Harden scores over 30 points in a game with regularity and has five 40+ point games and a 50 point night already this season.
Guard Chris Paul 18.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.1 steals, Clippers 4th place at 28-16
At 30, Chris Paul’s stats have slipped slightly, mostly because his minutes are down a bit, but in the point guard heavy West, he’s still tied for second in assists with Westbrook, tied for third in steals with Curry and those are the two point guards that deservedly got voted in ahead of him.
Paul is still a dominate point guard with 20 double-doubles on the season and the league’s coaches respect what he brings to the game despite some heavy competition at his position.
Center DeMarcus Cousins 26.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, Kings 8th place 20-23
DeMarcus Cousins is the best scoring big man in the game today and he’s got the stats to back him up. This year he’s even added a reliable three-point shot to go with that imposing presence in the paint. He’s not a bad defender either. Cousins can defend the rim, get steals and draw charges.
The Kings are just 1-7 without Cousins in the lineup this year. It’s simple in Sacramento, the Kings are a playoff team with Cousins and not much better than the 76ers without him.
Forward Draymond Green 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals, Warriors 1st place 40-4
Draymond Green leads the league with 8 triple-doubles. The do-everything engine that drives the NBA’s top team, Green’s game has been growing in a straight-line since his rookie season.
As if being the energy guy that makes the Warriors deadly small ball work on so many levels wasn’t enough, this year he has improved his pedestrian three-point shooting to better than 40 percent leaving defenders no one they can cheat off of.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge 15.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, Spurs 2nd place 38-6
It’s taken a while for this recently prolific scorer to adjust to playing for a much better team, but each month his stats improve and the big man is second in scoring on the Spurs and leads his team in rebounds.
Even if his play is flying beneath the radar on the nightly highlight reels, opposing coaches will recognize the sacrifices this four-time All-Star has made to his own stats for the benefit of the team.
Besides, the Spurs deserve to get a second All-Star.
Two players at any position:
Guard Damian Lillard 24.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists, Trail Blazers 10th place 20-26
The Portland Trail Blazers lost five of their six top players coming into this season and no one expected the 25-year-old Damian Lillard to transition easily from leading veterans to leading whomever. This season was slated for disaster, but that’s not how things have gone.
Lillard has taken his own game up another level and the Trail Blazers are better than expected. A lot of the credit belongs to him.
Based on the team’s record, there will be arguments to give someone else the nod, but this two-time All-Star is better than last year. Think about that.
Guard Klay Thompson 20.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, Warriors 1st place 40-4
There are a lot of players that should get serious consideration ahead of Klay Thompson this year, but the Warriors are dominating the league and Thompson shooting 42.5 percent on 7.5 three-point attempts per game is frustratingly hard for opposing coaches to overlook.
It’s pretty easy to justify giving Golden State three All-Stars.
Missing the cut
If the Pelicans (16-27) weren’t so badly underachieving, Anthony Davis would be a lock for an All-Star nod. If his team could give the world a reason to watch them, he would likely bump the now bland boring Spurs version of Aldridge out of the game.
Five-time All-Star Blake Griffin picked the worst time to be injured and instead of just being out-of-sight and out-of-mind, he’s being noticed because the Clippers have played better without him. It was getting hard enough to justify selecting a second All-Star player out of Clipperland without the excuse.
Four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo is leading the NBA with 11.6 assists per game, is second with 6 triple-doubles and tied for ninth with 21 double-doubles, but no one is touting him as an All-Star and the Kings are currently sitting in a playoff spot. Should Thompson be worried? Probably not, but not for the right reasons.
It would be nice to give Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan or Tony Parker a spot on an All-Star roster. Based on their value to their teams, it would easy to justify. However, whose spot do they take? The West already has a token future Hall of Fame player taking up a roster spot voted onto the team by the fans. Are the coaches supposed to get nostalgic too?
Perhaps the hardest player to leave off the team is two-time All-Star Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies are fifth in the West – still – and Gasol is the team’s leader in scoring, second in rebounds and tied for second in assists. It just seems like things are a little too quiet in Memphis for the younger Gasol brother to garner much attention this time.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
Predicting The 2016 NBA East All-Star Reserves
Predictions for the best of the rest not voted onto the NBA All-Star team in the Eastern Conference,