As one of the popular highlights of the NBA season, everything about the annual All-Star Game is loaded with pomp, hype and (hopefully) fun. No exception was that moment many a basketball fan awaits with gusto and prepares to heartily attack in argument as the naming of the rosters for the teams that will be squaring off in a Harlem Globetrotters-looking exhibition game next month.
Without further ado, then, the presentation of those long-awaited all-star rosters! (We’re talking the Official BallinEurope European NBA All-Star Team; what’d you think was meant?)
The following is a roster based on performance in the US’ big league in 2009-10 to this point. An attempt at building a normal-seeming roster was made, though this team has a definite accent on the big man. Let the arguments begin!
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs. The mainstay starts on this team again, but Parker’s inclusion here from the aging-as-we-watch Spurs may attest more to a lack of European guards getting quality playing time in the NBA than to the Frenchman’s performance this season. His line of 16.9 points and 5.8 assists per game is actually a slight improvement on his career marks of 16.7 and 5.6, but would represent his worst statistical showing in five years.
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors. Though Calderon has missed eight games due to hip injuries, the Team Spain stud gets props for performing as both starter and off the bench when necessary. A line of 11.2 ppg and 5.8 apg is not too shabby, either.
Beno Udrih, Sacramento Kings. Not starting as much as in the past two seasons, Udrih is nevertheless getting nearly the same amount of playing time this year (30.2 minutes per game) as he had in the previous two (32.0 in 2007-08, 31.1 in 2008-09) for the Kings. Sacramento is surely happy to have his 13.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 0.8 steals per game whether off the bench or on the floor for the opening tipoff.
Rudy Fernandez, Portland Trail Blazers. See how desperate things got here? Sure, Fernandez has earned some nice numbers at 8.3 ppg/1.3 spg in just 28 games and 23 minutes per, while really jacking up Portland’s play whilst on the floor, but is he really the fourth-best European guard in the NBA this season? Can i claim Brandon Jennings’ professional European experience and put him in this spot instead?
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. Since both these guys are Official Stern-Approved NBA All-Stars, there’s no need to justify their inclusion on this roster. The only question might be, “Which one’s better?”
Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls. 17.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1 block, 1 steal
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls. Why the Bulls are number one in the NBA in rebounds: These two scary dudes. As a duo, they’re contributing 19.4 rebounds (Deng with 7.3, Noah at 12.1, good for second-best in the league) not to mention 28.6 points (Deng 17.5, Noah 11.1) per game. It’s almost hard to believe Chicago’s only good for .500 ball this season; why didn’t this front office make a play for Linas Kleiza when they had the chance?
Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks. In his second NBA go-round, Ilyasova has made solid contributions for the increasingly Euro Bucks at 10.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg. Though the Turk does need to work on greater accuracy and consistency (though his shooting percentage is 42.7%, it actually looks more like 84% half the time and 17% the other half), he remains a threat to score 20 every night.
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies. Now Marc is experiencing the cruel anonymity of playing pro basketball in Tennessee – a fate big bro suffered until forcing the league through his dominant play to make him the first-ever Grizzly all-star. Apparently, Marc’s 15.1 ppg and 9.6 rpg wasn’t *quite* good enough for a free trip to Dallas; wait ‘til next year!
Mehmet Okur, Utah Jazz. This season, it’s Okur, rather than Andrei Kirilenko, who’s delivering the serious goods to the Jazz from abroad. While Kirilenko is contributing his standard 11.7/4.6/2.7, Okur has become one of the league’s take-notice presences in the paint with 12.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 1.5 stocks (Bill Simmons’ blocks+steals statistic) this season.
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors. Toronto is a top-five scoring and a bottom-five rebounding team: Bargnani is definitely representative of both features. At 17.5 ppg and just 6.4 rpg, he’s second on the team in both categories to Chris Bosh. With the reality of Bosh’s imminent departure next year, Bargnani could end up this team’s on-court leader in 2010-11. If this is the case, he’ll definitely need some lessons in aggression.