Is it too early to get the hype machine rolling on Joakim Noah? Joakim Noah has taken his game up to the next level this season and thus far is playing at an all-star level. However, the competition will be fierce this season. Meanwhile, I though Luol Deng would have no shot at a second All Star team, but his play may be deserving as well.
The news was fairly quiet, but the NBA removed the center position from the all-star ballet. Now fans simply vote for three front court players. If the fans vote in three SFs, will the coaches look to vote in some real big men to make up a team? Who knows.
If Center were still on the board, Noah would have an excellent chance to start. Luol Deng has no chance to start regardless of the new rule allowing a third forward to get voted in, so it's somewhat irrelevant to him.
Let's take a speculative guess that seven of the 12 positions available will go to forwards/big men with five of the positions going to players that will play guard.
Out of the seven big men, we've got the following locks that don't really warrant any discussion. LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh. Assuming those three make it in via the fan vote (which seems overwhelmingly likely) then the coaches will look to pick four more players to fill 'big' men type roles.
Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng
With by far the two best SFs in the NBA already playing for the East as starters, there are realistically 0-1 more SF positions available on the team. The battle likely comes down to Paul Pierce vs Luol Deng.
Paul Pierce is a better offensive initiator. He creates his own shot, controls the ball more, and creates more for others. He has more of a "star" feel to his game, and he's been there so many times that it feels like he belongs. He's scoring in higher volume per minute with fewer turnovers and more assists.
On the other hand, Luol Deng rebounds the ball better, defends better, and is viewed as the go-to man on his team right now while Rose is out while Pierce is playing second fiddle to Rondo in terms of controlling his team.
Judging by the way all-star selections are typically handed out, it's hard to see Deng winning this battle, and it's hard to see the coaches picking a fourth small forward.
Is Joakim Noah in the top three left?
It's still too early to know how players will shape up near all-star weekend, but it looks like Noah's competing against a wide array of palyers for three spots. The list looks something like this:
Brook Lopez - Scoring a ton for a now quality New Jersey team. While his rebounding is still pedestrian for a center, he's blocking more shots per game than Noah and is second only to Dwight Howard in the NBA suggesting his defense has improved.
Kevin Garnett - Garnett still scores with high volume per minute, he still plays tremendous defense, and he still rebounds the ball well. He's got the all-star pedigree as well, and though he missed the game last season, he'll have an excellent chance to make it this year.
Al Horford - Horford's putting up similar numbers to Noah, but plays on a smaller market team with less visibility. Assuming the two head into January with similar numbers the quality of their respective teams could decide which of the pair has a better shot of making the team. Right now, Noah's got a solid lead on Horford in my book, but that could easily change over the next couple months.
Tyson Chandler - Chanlder's the worst offensive player on the list, but his defensive MVP hype from last season may grant him some consideration. He's a solid man defender, but he's never been a great shot blocker, and his rebound stats aren't anything special either. I think Noah should beat him out, but there may be some pressure to put in two Knicks if their record stays amongst the top of the East.
Josh Smith - Smith's always had the stats to be there, but he's one of those guys few coaches around the league would vote for IMO. He's got horrible shot selection and goes in and out of games mentally at times. My guess is that he doesn't have any reasonable chance and that Horford would get any votes going to an Atlanta Hawk.
Anderson Varejao - While I'm highly skeptical of whether Varejao can keep it up, he's presently scoring more per minute than Noah, at a more efficient rate, and absolutely crushing everyone on the glass. He's not as much a help defender or shot blocker, but he's a good man defender. Given that he's never sniffed an all star game before, he'll probably get snubbed regardless of how good his numbers are.
Greg Monroe - He's having a very high quality season, but he's too new to all-star consideration, plays for one of the worst teams in the NBA, and while having a quality season is by no means having an elite season. He's got little chance, but I thought I'd give him the recognition of at least being a guy you could think of before dismissing.
Roy Hibbert - He got in last year, so he's worth mentioning, but he's been awful thus far and would only warrant consideration with considerable improvement.
Amare/Bynum - Both players have all-star like ability, but neither will likely play enough minutes prior to selection to warrant a selection. Amare is expected back sometime between mid to late December while Bynum is likely out until sometime in January.
When looking at the list overall [and I'm sure I probably forgot someone significant], Noah looks like he'll have an outstanding chance to get in if he keeps up his present level of play. There's no one presently in the field competing for the three spots that's presently crushing him. Presently, it looks like two of Lopez, Noah, and Chandler get in with Garnet and Horford duking it out for the final spot.
Filed under: Uncategorized