One week after the announcement of the starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, the league revealed the All-Star reserves during a special edition of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Thursday night. (Additionally, many of the participants were reported by Yahoo!’s own Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears before the announcement.) As usual, the teams feature a mix of familiar faces, new blood, and surprising snubs.
The West reserves are led by San Antonio Spurs linchpins Tony Parker (fifth selection) and Tim Duncan (14th selection). They’re joined by Oklahoma City Thunder dynamo Russell Westbrook (third selection), former OKC reserve and current Houston Rockets star James Harden (first selection), Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (second selection), Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (second selection), and Portland Trail Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge (second selection).
The East reserves are highlighted by reigning Defensive Player of the Year and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (first selection) and Chris Bosh (eighth selection) of the NBA champion Miami Heat. Their one-day teammates will include Indiana Pacers forward and likely Most Improved Player candidate Paul George (first selection), Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holliday (first selection), Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (first selection), and Chicago Bulls mainstays Luol Deng (second selection) and Joakim Noah (first selection), who have helped keep the team in the thick of the playoff hunt while superstar point guard Derrick Rose works through a lengthy knee rehab.
After the jump, check out more thoughts on the selections, including the biggest snubs.
As with every season, the first-time selections are arguably the most exciting inclusions. While Harden is the only first-timer in the West, his ascendance in Houston this season has been incredibly fun to watch, particularly given the questions that surrounded his ability to become a star after several seasons as a high-impact third option with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the East, Irving and George have emerged as two of the most consistently thrilling players in the NBA. Elsewhere, Holliday has been instrumental in establishing the Sixers in the playoff race after the trade of Andre Iguodala and somewhat unexpected loss of the injured Andrew Bynum. And Noah has simply been one of the most effective big men in the league for the last few years, a player long deserving of his All-Star spot.
Thursday’s announcement is also a big deal for the Golden State Warriors, a franchise that hadn’t had an All-Star since Latrell Sprewell in 1997. That was the longest active drought in the NBA and a regular sore spot for the team during that time. Lee’s selection will become a source of great pride, particularly for the ownership group that invested a lot of money and marketing energy in him when they signed him to a six-year contract in 2010.
Unfortunately, the Warriors also boast the biggest snub of 2013: point guard Stephen Curry, arguably the team’s best and most important player this season. Most analysts expected Curry to make the squad, particularly if only one Warrior was going to make it. In the end, he was passed over, although that didn’t stop him from congratulating Lee on Twitter.
The other biggest snub in the West was Grizzlies center Marc Gasol, one of the best two-way big men in the league so far this season. Gasol can’t match his teammate Randolph’s scoring and rebounding stats, but he’s been more crucial to the style of play that’s helped Memphis to the NBA’s fifth-best record.
The biggest snub in the East was Brook Lopez, the very productive center of the Brooklyn Nets. Shockingly, no Nets were selected for the All-Star team despite their owning the third-best record in the conference. It’s possible that East coaches were not particularly big fans of the players’ perceived coach-killing of the now-deposed Avery Johnson, although it’s hard to speculate on that front too much. Otherwise, the East selections were pretty solid, although it’s certainly possible to make a case that Boston Celtics veteran Paul Pierce deserved his 11th selection.
It’s worth noting that TNT analyst Charles Barkley argued hard for New York Knicks enigma J.R. Smith and Los Angeles Clippers gunner Jamal Crawford, largely on the strength of their teams’ great records, their scoring averages, and the idea that both may never again get a solid chance to make an All-Star team. However, that take ignores that both players are one-dimensional players hitting below 42 percent of their shots this season. They are key to their teams’ success, certainly, but not quite at the level we associate with All-Stars.
By the way, BDL’s own Kelly Dwyer made his own reserve selections last week (East here, West here) and disagreed on five of the 14 official selections. Yet the lesson here isn’t that the coaches screwed up in their picks — it’s that there are many deserving players around the league. We’re lucky to be in an era when that’s the case, because it certainly hasn’t been a constant in NBA history.