December 9, 2015

If I picked the All-Star starters

All_Star_Podium2010_300

Through the years, I was fortunate enough to coach in four All-Star games. I just wish they would’ve let me pick my starting five.

Don’t get me wrong. The fans get most of the selections right, but rarely do they go 10-for-10 – at least from a coach’s perspective.

This year was no different. I agreed with five of the 10 starters for the East and West starters.

Here are my selections for each team:

East Frontcourt

Fan selections: LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony.

My choices: James, George, Joakim Noah.

Without question, LeBron and Paul George are two of the top 10 players in basketball. Just because of that, I think they deserve to be on the court. I’d start Noah at center. He’s a non-stat guy who brings winning to it because of his energy and his defense. 

East Backcourt 

Fan selections: Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving

My choices: Wade, John Wall.

I think Wade’s body’s coming around a little bit. I was watching him one night and he took some good falls without wincing. He still has courage to take the big shot. Miami’s whole game plan is to keep him healthy. 

At point guard, I like Kyle Lowry because of his toughness, but I’d probably go with Wall because it’s an All-Star game. He still takes too many jump shots for me because I think he can get by his guy every time.

West Frontcourt

Fan selections: Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love

My choices: Durant, Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge 

I’m okay with Griffin and Durant. I think Durant’s the MVP. LeBron’s the better player but Durant might be more valuable to his team at this moment. I’d also take Aldridge over Love, partly because Portland deserves a starter based on what they’ve done this season.

As for Griffin, he’s becoming that next-tier player. Before, he was an All-Star player you weren’t afraid of. Now the guy can go out and kick your ass, and he’s playing a style of game that’s hard to defend. He’s running the court, He’s playing the high-low game and the pick-and-roll game. He still gets his lobs and he’s making the jump shot. He’s doing three or four things he wasn’t doing last year.

West Backcourt

Fan selections: Kobe Bryant, Stephen  Curry

My choices: James Harden, Chris Paul.

West coach Scotty Brooks got this one right by naming Harden as Kobe’s replacement. I don’t particularly like Harden’s game, but he can score. He’s a machine. He just doesn’t play hard enough for me. He has a coolness about him that bothers me. I’m also not a big Chris Paul guy, but I think he can control Harden and the ego of the game. He’ll try to orchestrate.

As for the game itself, I’ve never been a big fan of All-Star weekend. It was always a good chance for me to get away from the stress of the season and spend some time in the mountains with my family.

I’ll be observing this year from Bristol, Conn., and offering my thoughts on ESPN. Seems about right. If I wasn’t coaching, I always said they’d have to pay me to watch the All-Star game.

Coach Karl