Now that the NBA has announced its All-Star starters for 2010-11, it’s our turn. In case you missed it, back in late December we posted our “ballots” for the 2010-11 NBA fantasy All-Stars. The idea behind this was, “If the NBA can have us vote on each season’s All-Stars, why can’t we do the same for fantasy basketball?” Well, the people have spoken.
It’s clear that some players earned the most votes based purely on their straight-up values so far this season. In other cases, the reasons were a bit less obvious. Some races were close, others were blowouts. Below is a rundown of the results, along with my own votes and brief comments.
Eastern Conference starters (number/percent of votes for each position)
PG: Derrick Rose (71/37%)
My vote: Raymond Felton
Comments: There are three main reasons to vote for a player to be a fantasy All-Star: 1) he boasts the best averages so far; 2) he has offered the biggest returns based on his average draft position; or 3) you just plain like him. For me, Felton fulfills criteria Nos. 1 and 2. Yes, he’s slowed down a lot lately and looks like he’s burning out, but based on what he’s done so far in 2010-11, and based on the fact that he’s offered top-20 value despite being drafted around No. 60 overall (this and all other referenced average draft positions are according to Yahoo), Felton is a no-brainer for me. Rose is right there with him, but the tie-breaker is Rose was picked in the third round of most drafts and is offering top-20 value, a feat that isn’t as surprising as Felton’s. But hey, Rose is finally nailing threes, so who am I to rain on that parade?
SG: Dwyane Wade (82/43%)
My vote: Ray Allen
Comments: Wade has produced top-20 numbers so far, which falls far short of his average draft position of 6.0. But I have no qualms with having him win the race here. I’m picking Allen simply because he was supposed to be showing signs of atrophy this season. Instead, he’s improved upon six of the nine major statistical categories counted in fantasy leagues and has been a top-25 fantasy stud so far in 2010-11. Case closed.
SF: LeBron James (95/50%)
My vote: Paul Pierce
Comments: I’m a bit surprised to see James get so many votes here, not just because he’s been a bit of a disappointment, but also because he’s just not as likable as he once was. I’m fine with James here — after all, he’s averaging around 26/7/7. The reason I’d choose Pierce is because of his stunning averages so far. He has improved his scoring, field-goal percentage, rebounding, assists, turnovers and, by smaller margins, his blocks and free-throw percentage. All this has placed him among the top 15 fantasy players in the land thus far this season, which is pretty elite air. I was never a fan of Pierce for fantasy purposes, but I can’t deny his stellar play.
PF: Josh Smith (64/34%)
My vote: Kevin Garnett
Comments: This was probably the most bewildering result to me. Yeah, Smith started out with a roar, but he’s since tapered off and has underperformed his average draft position (17.2) by putting up top-30 numbers so far this season. Smith’s bread and butter — his steals and blocks — have both dipped from their 2009-10 marks. Garnett should be the winner here. He’s taken a gulp from the fountain of youth, has his knee back and is averaging top-12 numbers. If that doesn’t convince you, maybe this will.
C: Amar’e Stoudemire (61/54%)
My vote: Al Horford
Comments: Stoudemire has proven his doubters wrong. He doesn’t need Steve Nash, he can rebound (on most nights) and he can really block shots (2.3 per game, tied for third in the NBA). So I don’t have a problem with this pick. I’d vote for Horford simply because he’s putting up slightly better value overall and was drafted nearly 1.5 rounds after Stoudemire.
Reserves (the second highest vote-getters at each position): Raymond Felton (57/29%), Ray Allen (35/18%), Paul Pierce (50/26%), Wilson Chandler (41/22%), Dwight Howard (28/25%)
Western Conference starters (number/percent of votes for each position)
PG: Chris Paul (61/36%)
My vote: Russell Westbrook
Comments: CP3 is the No. 1 overall fantasy player right now based on averages, so it’s not surprising at all to see him get the most votes here. I’m going with Westbrook because he’s far outperforming his average draft position of 35.6. Westbrook is putting up top-20 averages so far and has improved on his shooting from the field (a big weakness in his first two seasons in the NBA) and free-throw line, his rebounding, assists, steals and scoring from last season’s marks. The one downside is that he’s turning the ball over an insane 3.8 times per game (third worst in the league), but we knew that was one of his weaknesses coming into the season. I was a Westbrook doubter this fall, but he’s making me look a fool right now — maybe that’s the main reason I’m giving him my vote.
SG: Manu Ginobili/Monta Ellis (tied: 50/31% each)
My vote: Manu Ginobili
Comments: This was our only tie, and it’s understandable — both of these guys manage to put up exciting fantasy numbers on nearly every night they’re on the court, and despite their reputations for DNPs, both Ginobili and Ellis have managed to rack up a total of exactly zero DNPs so far this season. I’m voting for Batman because he’s averaging better numbers (top-five numbers, in fact) so far this season and he was drafted at around No. 39 overall. Ellis, on the other hand, is averaging slightly inferior numbers (top-15, which isn’t shabby) but was drafted at an average of No. 29 overall. There’s also the “Robert Downey Jr./’Iron Man’” factor here: We always knew Ginobili had the talent to be a fantasy stud — he just couldn’t stay healthy enough or play enough minutes to realize that potential. Well, 2010-11 arrived and so far, it has proven to be the perfect situation for Ginobili: health, a steady starting gig, a faster offense and a superstar teammate in decline. This season is his “Iron Man.”
SF: Kevin Durant (74/45%)
My vote: Dorell Wright
Comments: KD is doing his thing and that’s fine and dandy, but Wright has blindsided the fantasy basketball world this season. He wasn’t drafted in most leagues but has managed to rise up and produce averages good enough to rank him at No. 16 overall so far this season. If that isn’t a feel-good story, I don’t know what is. Wright gets my Amar’e nod of approval.
PF: Kevin Love (76/46%)
My vote: Kevin Love
Comments: If you disagree here, I have nothing to say to you. Love was taken around No. 42 in drafts this fall and has feasted on the competition on his way to top-three value. The only thing he hasn’t done in 2010-11 is master the art of the high-five. Just give him time — Love will get the hang of it soon enough.
C: Pau Gasol (71/73%)
My vote: Pau Gasol
Comments: Gasol got the biggest share of votes of any of the starters in both conferences, and for good reason. The return of Andrew Bynum has been a bit of a downer for Gasol’s value, but he remains a player who does everything well. Just take a look at his averages so far in January: 17.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, one steal, 1.7 blocks and two turnovers per game. He’s also shooting 53 percent from the field and 86 percent from the charity stripe this month. The numbers and votes say it all.
Reserves (the second highest vote-getters at each position): Deron Williams (47/28%), Kobe Bryant (19/11%), Rudy Gay (42/25%), Dirk Nowitzki (51/31%), Serge Ibaka (9/9%)