The 2014 All-Star starters were announced Thursday, and despite Twitter campaigns from the Wizards and us, John Wall expectedly lost out to Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving for the two Eastern Conference guard spots. That leaves Wall hoping that the coaches reward his strong season with his first trip to the midseason classic.
If it were up to writers, Wall would be a shoo-in. I've yet to see an All-Star list (including mine) that doesn't have Wall on there, either as a starter or a reserve. There are two backup guard spots and two wild card selections, and it's hard for me to see four Eastern Conference guards who have been better than Wall this year.
But should he get left behind for some reason, here is his competition.
KYLE LOWRY: The Raptors' point guard has been the engine behind their revival, averaging 17.5 points and eight assists per game since Rudy Gay was traded. Lowry may not be as dynamic as Wall, but he's been a much better defender and has also been significantly more efficient as a scorer. Wall, though, has significantly better passing skills and tilts a defense more than Lowry does.
LANCE STEPHENSON: The Pacers' shooting guard is the popular pick to go to New Orleans because of his dynamic play in several big games on the league's best team. But he's also arguably the fourth-best player on the Pacers, behind Paul George, Roy Hibbert (a reserve shoo-in) and David West. Should the fourth-best player, who has a league-average PER and several clunkers in addition to his big games, get priority over the obvious best player on a .500 team?
DEMAR DEROZAN: The other half of Toronto's backcourt has shined since Gay left, showing off improved passing, driving and shooting. But he's also still inefficient, posting a 51.4 true shooting percentage.
ARRON AFFLALO: The Magic shooting guard may not be a household name, but he's having his most efficient shooting season since his Denver days while also upping his passing and usage for a dreadful club that relies on him as a No. 1 scoring option.
JOE JOHNSON: After a slow start, Johnson has emerged as the hub of Brooklyn's stripped-down offense and is in one of the best shooting stretches of his career. Coaches always have given Johnson the benefit of the doubt even when he hasn't put up great efficiency numbers, and this season could be no different.
KEMBA WALKER: Prior to his injury, Walker was fighting through a shooting slump, but has improved significantly on the defensive end for a Bobcats team that remains in the hunt for a playoff spot.
MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS: Don't laugh. When you combine Carter-Williams' playmaking with his dynamic defense, you get someone that merits consideration, even though he's a rookie and even though he can't shoot consistently. The 76ers resemble a professional team when he plays; they look like a high-school club when he sits.
JEFF TEAGUE: He's really fallen off without Al Horford, but maybe the coaches don't recognize that and reward him for a strong November?
At most, four of those nine players will make the Eastern Conference club. Wall seems to have the best case of any to get one of those four reserve spots, but you never know.
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