Friday, February 10, 2006

Playing to Win the All-Star Game

All anybody talks about when it comes to the All-Star game is who gets snubbed. Rarely is there ever any discussion of the actual game. What if coaches really tried to win? What if they didn't care about getting everyone playing time and instead treated it like the playoffs. They would figure out their crunch time five, feature and 8 or 9 man rotation, and screw the other three guys. Speculation regarding who Flip Saunders will pick to replace Jermaine in the starting lineup (most likely Sheed or Bosh) got me wondering ... what if we looked at the All-Star teams and really tried to find the best squad for a serious competition? Could be kind of fun. So that's what this thread is for. I'll start us off ... feel free to jump in with thoughts and opinions.


Adam Hoff said...

For both teams, I would let everyone play in the first half, then decide how to finish the game. The lineups posted reflect how I would start and play the second half. Here's the West:

PG Steve Nash
SG Kobe Bryant
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Elton Brand

6th Man - Ray Allen
B - Tim Duncan
B - Tony Parker
B - Kevin Garnett

As for McGrady, Yao, and Gasol, they are out of luck. I know this would never fly in Houston, but I'm looking at strictly how to win the game. McGrady is not 100% this year and there is nothing that he is doing better than Kobe. They are too similar to play them both, so you have to pick one. Allen is a much better spot-up shooter than either of them, so he's the guy to spread the floor. Parker gets 8-10 minutes backing up Nash. Brand is the best lowpost player in the West right now, so he gets the start at center with TD backing him up. If the rotation goes nine-deep, it is KG for his defense and leadership.

As for the starters, you have the perfect blend. Nash and Marion have the chemistry, Kobe and Dirk provide both deep shooting and guys you can run the halfcourt offense through. Brand cleans up the glass and defends the rim.

Dirk over Duncan was the toughest call, but Duncan just hasn't seemed like himself since the 2004 Olympics, when he shattered the records for "most times being stripped on a double team" and "most times fouling a three-point shooter after falling for an obvious pump fake." Plus, until Allen gets in the game, the West doesn't really have a pure shooter to stretch the D (although Nash, Kobe, and Marion can all hit threes). Finally, Dirk and Nash have chemistry as well, so you have the perfect person to run pick-and-roll.

So there's the West rotation.

Adam Hoff said...

Here is how the East would look:

PG Allen Iverson
SG Rip Hamilton
SF LeBron James
PF Rasheed Wallace
C Shaq

6th Man - Dwayne Wade
B - Chris Bosh
B - Chauncey Billups
B - Ben Wallace

The "out of luck" bunch here is Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, and Gilbert Arenas. All three are scorers, but we just don't need any more of those. Ben Wallace isn't really the Big Benny Wallace of old, but someone needs to bolster the front line. He's behind Bosh in the rotation though.

The bench features a combo guard/swingman in Wade that can do whatever is needed (ala his sting on the Olympic team), two big bodies (one who scores, one who defends), and a great backup PG in Billups.

I went with Iverson over Billups for a couple of reasons. First, he has a lot of All-Star game experience and has proven to be an incredible passer in these games. Plus, with Nash guarding the East's point guard, it is imperative to create a mismatch, but without bringing the offense to a crashing hault by sending the PG down into the post. Iverson can spread the floor and beat Nash on the dribble, allowing him to drive and dish all night.

LeBron would the the centerpiece of the transition game, Hamilton will spread the floor and make Kobe work on both ends, Sheed will add the primary three-point threat, and Shaq will clog the middle.

Who wins?

Iverson and Nash cancel each other out. Kobe has the edge over Rip. LeBron has the slight edge over Marion, Dirk over Sheed, and the post battle is a wash. The West ultimately has the better bench, as they have Duncan and KG, the only guy as fast as AI (Parker), and the best shooter in the game in Allen.

West 119-112. MVP is Dirk.

Of course, none of this will ever happen.

Anonymous said...

Gilbert Arenas can't get any respect! First he gets snubbed from the original 12 in the East, now he can't crack your rotation. He had 32, 10, and 8 tonight and Caron Bulter said that only Iverson, Kobe, and LeBron have been able to "tear through the league like Gilbert."

Adam Hoff said...

I love Gilbert Arenas. I agree that he was getting snubbed (would have been first player since Abdur-Rahim in 1999 to rank in the top five in scoring and not make the team), but with Iverson and LeBron on the floor, his impact would be minimal. Gilbert Grape is terrific though.

Kelvin said...

I don't like Brand trying to guard Shaq. Did you see the big man today against the Pistons? Looked like the Shaq of old, just throwing people around. Brand would get manhandled. The West would need Yao if Shaq was on the floor.

One other thing ... if the teams were simply trying to win the game, what are the chances that Flip would just go Pistons + LeBron (in Tayshaun's SF spot)? The continuity of that group would probably beat even the best collection of players that aren't used to working together. I know you have all four Detroit guys in your nine-man rotation, but I might make them my "starting five."