NBA All-Star 2013: Western conference starters
MANILA, Philippines - We're nearing the NBA All-Star Game, the midseason spectacle that draws some of the NBA's best players under one roof to showcase their wares and entertain the fans. The league released the All-Star starters - selected by fan-voting - earlier today, with the usual suspects making it to Houston.
Here is a closer look at the Western Conference All-Star team starters:
Chris Paul, (Guard, Los Angeles Clippers)
16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.6 steals
48.1% FG shooting, 90.1% FT shooting
CP3 has kept the Clippers’ engine humming smoothly from Day 1, instantly transforming what was a fringe playoff team before he came in last season into a contender that will give any squad it will face in the postseason fits.
Despite a not-so-spectacular offseason haul, the Clippers sit just half-a-game from the NBA’s best record. And that is precisely because of Paul’s brilliant play. He finds teammates at the perfect spots, scores when it matters and controls the flow the game like nobody in the league does.
Paul has been splendid all throughout his career and this season is no exception. A sixth All-Star berth is a no-brainer. CP3 is the best point guard in the NBA. And nobody can question that.
Kobe Bryant, (Guard, Los Angeles Clippers)
29.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals
47.8% FG shooting, 83.6% FG shooting
When the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the aftermath of a failed 2011-12 campaign, a lot thought that the duo’s arrival meant less touches and less points for the scoring machine.
But a slow and ludicrous start has led to the Black Mamba reprising his old self, scoring 29.9 points per game --- the highest since he led the NBA in 2006-07 --- as the Lakers have struggled to a 17-22 card as of press time.
Nevertheless, no one can discount Bryant’s brilliance this season. As a matter of fact, there were times that he was the only Laker who wanted to win. For that alone, he deserves to keep his 13-year streak of making the All-Star team alive.
Kevin Durant, (Forward, Oklahoma City Thunder)
28.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals
52.5% FG shooting, 90.1% FT shooting
Durant is a monster and unfortunately for other teams, he has just improved his game more this season.
Approaching that rare 50-40-90 shooting year, the Durantula has registered the best shooting (52.5% FG shooting, 40.2% three-point shooting, 90.1% FT shooting) numbers of his already-legendary career while leading the Thunder to the league’s top record.
Moreover, Durant has upped his assists (4.2 from 3.5), steals and blocks as the lanky wingman has solidified his status as one of the NBA’s two best players, even leading some to peg him as this year’s MVP. No wonder he will bag his fourth straight All-Star appearance.
Blake Griffin, (Forward, Los Angeles Clippers)
17.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals
53.4% FG shooting, 63.6% FT shooting
The new-millennium’s “Human Highlight Reel” has added a medium range jumper to his arsenal while also improving on his once-suspect defensive acumen.
Griffin has not forgotten his aerial acrobatics and still dunks 2.3 times a game, but what has been important for him this season is that the Clippers are winning and Griffin is a big part of it.
The high-flying forward has a lot to improve on, when it comes to his game. But Griffin remains as one of the NBA’s most explosive and entertaining players. It was tough to pick one from David Lee, Zach Randolph and Griffin, but for this year, the latter gets the nod.
Dwight Howard (Center, Los Angeles Lakers)
17.7 points, 12.70 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.6 blocks
58.6% FG shooting, 50.1% FT shooting
The Lakers' struggles and Howard's bumpy ride with the Orlando Magic last season didn't do enough to dampen the center's All-Star appeal.
His arrival to one of, if not the, most popular franchises in the NBA in the offseason, along with 2-time MVP Steve Nash, had a lot of Lakeshow fans really excited for the season. Unfortunately, the excitement has yet to translate to consecutive wins as the Lakers find themselves outside of the playoff picture nearly three months into the 2013 season.
However, Howard is still one of the most exciting players in the NBA. He definitely has one of the most imposing presence in the paint on both ends of the court. That alone makes him a reasonable starter but we think this spot should've gone to San Antonio's "Big Fundamental," Tim Duncan.
The All Star reserves will be announced next week and the Spurs' main big man who has been aging gracefully should definitely get the nod.
Who else do you think should be part of the West All Stars? Let us know in the comments below. - Rappler.com