All-Star Dirk's 'Lifetime Achievement Award'
It's that magical time of year once again where we who follow the Association find out who the most popular players are and who are the most respected by their peers. I'm talking of course about the NBA All-Star rosters. As you know, the fans vote in the starters, while the coaches and players vote for the reserves.
After injuries and ineffectiveness ruined his chances at his first career All-Star starting spot, Dirk Nowitzki came into today hoping that his peers reward his recent championship run with a spot on the West's bench so he could appear in the game for the 11th consecutive year.
Or maybe he wasn't all that hopefully. But it is an honor.
"I am really excited to make the All-Star team this year," Nowitzki said when the selections were revealed for the 61st annual game. "It was a tough road back to full health for me, but I am honored that the coaches thought enough of me to make me an All-Star. It has been a privilege to represent the Mavericks organization over the last decade and I look forward to doing it again in Orlando."
Before we get to the big story as it relates to the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk -- who has been named to more ASG's than any other Mav in history -- let's first analyze each squad's roster and see what trends we see emerging in this era of change in the NBA.
Starters (Season averages in parenthesis)
G- Derrick Rose (22.0 ppg, 7.8 apg, 3.4 rpg, 0.9 steals per game, 25.03 PER)
G - Dwyane Wade (22.0 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 blkpg, 1.9 stlpg, 25.48 PER)
F- Lebron James (28.5 ppg, 6.9 apg, 8.2 rpg, 31.9 PER)
F- Carmelo Anthony (22.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 6.0 rpg, 20.33 PER)
C- Dwight Howard (21.0 ppg, 15.4 rpg, 2.2 blkpg, 25.42 PER)
No surprises as the biggest stars from the biggest markets earned spots here thanks to fan voting and shoe deals. These are some of the biggest names in the game and all deserve to be here at least in that sense. Oh, ‘Melo's shooting numbers this season don't merit his inclusion, but whatever, the starters are voted on by the fans, and 'Melo is a marquee star in a big market. However, the East roster is quite top-heavy, as we will see when we look at the reserves.
Chris Bosh (19.2 ppg, 7.8 rbg, 0.8bpg, 19.74 PER)
Joe Johnson (18.6 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.0 rpg, 18.23 PER)
Roy Hibbert (13.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.8 blkpg, 19.53 PER)
Paul Pierce (18.4 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.6 rpg, 21.22 PER)
Luol Deng (16.0 ppg, 2.5 apg, 7.3 rpg, 16.29 PER)
Andre Iguodala (13.0 ppg, 5.2 apg, 6.7 rpg, 18.83 PER)
Deron Williams (20.9 ppg, 8.6 apg, 3.5 rpg, 20.00 PER)
Miami gets its entire "Big Three" on the All-Star roster with Bosh's inclusion. Also, Paul Pierce enjoys the Dirk Nowitzki Treatment (explained below) and sneaks onto the roster despite a slow start. He will be the only Celtic on this roster, as Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, breaking a streak of 14 straight ASG's, will stay home.
Deron Williams' shooting numbers are also down while his turnovers have increased. However, his candidacy is not up for debate. He has taken a roster depleted of talent and somehow has the Nets in the top half of the league in points per possession.
Hibbert's inclusion, over ex-Maverick Tyson Chandler, is a bit of a puzzle. Chandler's stats are comparable, 12.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.3 blkpg, 20.88 PER), and his defensive intensity is a big reason the Knicks' defensive transformation from ‘atrocious' to ‘mediocre,' (28th in opp ppg in 2011 to 15th in 2012).
Starters (Averages in parenthesis)
G- Chris Paul (18.4 ppg, 9.1 apg, 3.5 rpg, 26.17 PER)
G- Kobe Bryant (29.3 ppg, 5.4 apg, 5.8 rpg, 25.43 PER)
F – Kevin Durant (27.3 ppg, 3.4 apg, 8.3 rpg, 26.60 PER)
F- Blake Griffin (21.4 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.0 blkpg, 22.91 PER)
C- Andrew Bynum (17.1 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.0 blkpg, 22.7 PER)
This is where we see the SuperTeam Era begin to take hold. With a decidedly LA-heavy roster, 80% of the West starters come from the Staples Center. The talking point here is the emergence of the West's front court, which could remain in place for years to come. Griffin, with his endless posterizations and highlights, has usurped the spot that Dirk likely would have occupied had he played at the level of last spring. Further, Bynum's emergence as the game's second-best center earns him the spot at C over Marc Gasol, at least in the minds of the fans. However, the West this year is stocked full of worthy candidates, which brings us to the reserves.
Kevin Love (25 ppg, 13.7 rbg, 0.5 blkpg, 25.45 PER)
LaMarcus Aldridge (23.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.8 blkpg, 23.99 PER)
Dirk Nowitzki (17.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.5 blkpg, 19.29 PER)
Russell Westbrook (22.3 ppg, 5.9 apg, 4.8 rpg, 22.56 PER)
Tony Parker (18.9 ppg, 7.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, 21.95 PER)
Steve Nash (15.1 ppg, 10.0 apg, 2.6 rpg, 23.98 PER)
Marc Gasol (15.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 blkpg, 1938 PER)
Dirk Nowitzki earns the basketball equivalent of the "Lifetime Achievement Award'' here, as this selection is mostly based on past achievements. We can now put away all the talk of the Mavericks being the first defending champion since Naismith hung a peach basket to not feature an All-Star on its roster. As you can see, The UberMan statistics don't necessarily, by themselves, merit his inclusion in this group. However, he commands the utmost respect from his peers and rival coaches and his recent (crowning) achievements are simply too powerful to ignore.
The dialogue in other cities may now shift to how Dirk's presence on the roster caused another, more worthy candidate to get "snubbed," and Dirk himself probably wouldn't disagree, but he deserved this nod whether he believes it or not. He is perhaps the last single superstar to lead his team to a championship, especially as we seem inevitably trending towards stacked teams with multiple stars.
The rest of the roster is as interesting for who made it just as it is for who didn't. Indeed, we seem to be witnessing a changing of the guard (forward) in the Western Conference (and the league as a whole) as the next generation of players takes over for the vet forwards.
Aldridge, Love and Griffin seem poised to accept the mantle once held by Nowitzki, Garnett and Duncan. Indeed, Tim Duncan saw his streak of All-Star Games snapped at 13. His teammate Tony Parker is the lone Spurs representing the four-time champions. Similarly, Russell Westbrook was voted onto the West squad, perhaps to the preclusion of his teammate Harden, who is enjoying a career year. Also, Steve Nash makes the team from Phoenix despite his refusal to ask for a trade from a that mediocre squad that he is keeping afloat. Interestingly, his teammate Marcin Gortat is another notable snub, averaging a double-double with 15.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg, both career highs.
Also, Paul Millsap's omission is notable as he too enjoys a career year with 16.5 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 0.8 blocks and a studly 24.28 PER.
Monta Ellis and the lack of any Nugget can also be filed under ‘snubs.'
The arguments will continue but so will Dirk's building of his resume. In 22 games, Nowitzki is averaging a team-high 17.6 points to go with 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 31.9 minutes. The 14-year pro is shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 90.2% from the free throw line.
There is reason enough for Dirk to be in Orlando on Feb. 26. But as DB.com wrote early this week, we hope he takes his bow and then lets West teammates hog the ball while he plans his return to Dallas for even more important matters.
Here comes the All-Star Game ... and then the all-important Trade Deadline Time ... and the intensity of the Dallas Mavericks' title defense ... and for about 10 cents a day, you can join the most informed Mavs fans in the world! Become a Premium Mavs Fan and get the best coverage possible of your World Champion Dallas Mavericks! On the court, in the locker room, upstairs in the front office ... nobody covers the Mavs like DB.com ... Take our free 7-day trial and Go Mavs and Go Premium!