The West's stars should have easy time
Based on the firepower of the West's roster, the final score of the 54th All Star game in Denver will be rather lopsided in West's favor.
In the matchup of the starting rosters, the West obviously has the size advantage. Besides LeBron James who at 6' 8" will not be sacrificing any inches against the West's starting shooting guard Kobe Bryant, the rest of the East's squad will be smaller. The West basically has three seven footers (counting Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan at 6' 11" as 7 footers) on their starting roster with another two on their bench, while the East has three in total.
While this year's game will be played in Denver, none of the Denver Nuggets' players made the roster. The Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Contest, one of the most exciting parts of All Star weekend, is on Saturday night. The dunkers will be Atlanta Hawks rookie Josh Smith, New Orleans Hornets rookie J.R Smith, another Hornet Chris Anderson, and Phoenix Suns All Star Amare Stoudemire.
The Playstation Skills Challenge features hometown Wizard Gilbert Arenas and is among the other activities, Foot Locker three point shootout and Radio Shack shooting stars.
The coaches for the Eastern Conference will be Stan Van Gundy of the Miami Heat. He will be most familiar with Heat stars Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade. Van Gundy has coached Miami to the best record in the East and the third best record in the league with 40 wins and only 14 losses. Gregg Popovich has been one of the premier coaches in the league for years. His Spurs always have a shot at the title and currently own the best record in the league, 41-12. Poppovich was an assistant for the 2004 Athens Olympic team so will have more experience with the players than Van Gundy.
Here's how the rest of the matchups break down:
Philadelphia 76ers Allen Iverson
Iverson, who barely stands six feet tall, will be the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference.
Iverson has matured as a player and has evolved from being just a scoring threat when he was younger. Although, he leads the league in scoring with an average of 29 points per outing, he is not taking as many shots as he used to and gets the entire team involved by dishing out the ball. He is seventh in the league with 7.6 assists a night, the highest average in his eight-year career.
Houston Rockets Tracy McGrady
Meanwhile, the scoring champion of the last two years McGrady has lost ground for this year's title. He is still being productive averaging 25.6 points a game, which is sixth in the league. His assists have also increased, largely due to a better team in Houston, to the highest average in his career, 5.8 a night. While this number may seem low for a point guard, one needs to keep in mind McGrady does not play point guard for his team.
Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James
James has emerged as one of the most exciting and talented players in the league in just his second year out of high school. He is in the top ten in the NBA in almost every statistical category. His line is 25.3, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.7 assists, quite amazing for a sophomore player.
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant
His foil, Bryant, is putting up just as impressing numbers. Bryant averages more point, 27.5, but slightly less rebounds and assists with 6.3 and 6.6, respectively. Bryant has had an ankle injury forcing him to miss several games, but is still second in the league in scoring average.
This will be the matchup of two point guard converts. The guards and both will contribute to their team. Iverson's scoring average, 19 points, is always down during the All-Star game however he evidently passes the ball, with seven assists a game in 29 minutes. Meanwhile, his counterpart McGrady has never had great All Star games, just averaging 17 points, three rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes of action.
As previously mentioned, this is one of the few positions where the East has the size advantage. James at 6' 8" stands two inches taller than Bryant and we should anticipate a great match-up full of jaw dropping dunks. Bryant averages 20.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in his six career All-Star games. James will be making his first All-Star game start
New Jersey Nets Vince Carter
Carter seems to have fun playing basketball again after all those losing years with the Raptors. In his 25 games as a Net, he is averaging 26.3 points a game, six rebounds, and slightly over five assists. Carter seems to have finally deserved a starting roster spot, as opposed to past years where the fans have awarded him the position.
Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett
Unfortunately for Carter, he will defend last year's National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP). While Garnett's scoring is down from the last two years, he grabs nearly 14 boards, which leads the league. Garnett also gets the whole team involved dishing out 5.8 assists a game.
San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan
Duncan has been one of the best players in the NBA for years. He won the MVP for two straight years and continues to dominate the game in his own way. Without amazing statistics, he makes his team better every time he steps on the court. Duncan is averaging 21.2 points a game along with 11.8 rebounds. His team is one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
Orlando Magic Grant Hill
Meanwhile, Hill has persevered through several injuries and definitely deserves this starting position. He has played more games this season, thus far, than his last three seasons combined. While his numbers do not compare to his prime days, he is averaging nearly 19 points a night this season, along with 4.6 rebounds.
The forward position is probably one of the worst matchups for the Eastern Conference. I have nothing but congratulations and compliments for Hill who has tried for years to successfully return from his injuries, but this match up will be difficult for him. Carter has also looked as good as ever since his trade.
Garnett is versatile and can play this three position despite standing 6' 11," five inches taller than Carter and three inches taller than Hill. This could create problems for the East when Garnett goes into the post. The West will have the advantage with Garnett and the East will probably have to play a zone defense to contain Garnett.
Duncan at seven foot stands a few inches above Hill and Carter, who will be out muscled if Duncan takes his game to the post.
Miami Heat Shaquille O'Neal vs. Houston Rockets Yao Ming
O'Neal vs. Ming is definitely one of the storylines of the game. O'Neal is the most dominant player in the game, especially in the painted area. O'Neal can score on any defender because of his sheer power and strength. Ming has slowed down the Big Aristotle but that is about all he could do.
In the seven regular season meeting and five postseason meetings, O'Neal leads every statistical category, including points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. He averages six more points than Ming at 22.1, 1.5 more boards at 9.8, and more assists and blocks.
For the season, O'Neal and his Heat are ahead of Ming's Rockets. O'Neal is averaging 23.2 points and 10.8 rebounds compared to Ming's 18.3 and 8.5.
However, O'Neal will have more trouble playing because of the size of the Western Conference team. He will have to man the entire paint region and help defending Duncan and Garnett. His own offensive opportunities will be difficult because of the double teams that he will face.
Despite the starters, the bench is the most important factor in the All Star game. Starters usually do not play as many minutes as normal games and let the reserves shine.
The reserves, once again, favor the West because of their size. The East reserves, including the two Wizards, Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas, are talented but are smaller than their Western counterparts.
The East's tallest reserves are Jermaine O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas standing 6' 11" and 7' 3," respectively. However their coach, Van Gundy cannot put all the seven foot men in at the same time like Popovich can because in this case all the big men are limited to playing center and possibly, power forward.
The bench of the West will include big men, Dirk Nowitzki and Stoudemire. Both of these players can be used in either the four or five positions, while Nowitzki can play the three position.
Steve Nash, the West's backup point guard, will be familiar with most of the Western reserves considering that two, Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, are his teammates and another, Nowitzki, is his best friend and former teammate.
Nash one of the best players in the NBA this season creates havoc for any opposing team and with this much talent surrounding him, the East should prepare for a long night. The versatility of the West's big men will also create problems for the more traditional Eastern Conference, who tend to stick to position based on size.
Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »