No Warriors made the All-Star team this year (again). The two Warriors worth considering, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, both had good chances to make the team. They weren't going to make it in via the voting as Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash took those spots, so it was down to two guard spots and several worthy candidates. Tony Parker and Ray Allen were voted in by the coaches for those roster spots. I disagree with both of them, but I don't think Baron or JRich deserved a spot.
First off, I don't take Tony Parker, I think Chris Paul deserved it. He's lifted that New Orleans/ Oklahoma City franchise into the playoff race. Nobody would have even thought they could compete for a playoff spot, but here they are sitting in 7th place in the West. Sure Tony Parker's team is the 2nd best team in the same division, but he's also got Tim Duncan and a better supporting cast. Pair up Chris Paul with Tim Duncan and I'm sure you get the same results. Paul leads Parker in assists, rebounding, steals, and even has fewer turnovers. He's a much better free throw shooter (82% to 68%). Parker bests Paul in shooting percentage (43% to 55%) and points scored. Paul has been the better point guard this year as he's lifted David West to a possible Most Improved Player award and revitalized that franchise. With the help of former Warrior, Speedy Claxton, these Hornets are going to contend for those last couple playoff spots until the end of the season. Paul should have beaten out Parker for that All-Star spot because of the better numbers and that he's leading an 18 win team from last season to at least 23 wins by the All-Star break. It's not a knock on Parker, it's just that Paul has been the better player this year.
Second, while Ray Allen is scoring at a career high, his Sonics are near the cellar of their division and haven't even broken 20 wins yet. How the team goes from a top playoff seed to being one of the worst teams in the West is baffling. Rashard Lewis has had nearly as great an impact on that team as Ray Allen has. Sure without Allen they'd be far worse, but to make the All-Star team, you have to lead your team to more wins. Therefore, I don't think Baron Davis or Jason Richardson should make the team either, but both deserved to make it over Allen.
While Baron's put up very nice numbers and he's been the only reason the Warriors aren't further below .500, he has deficiencies in his game that I regretfully cannot say he's a top 4 guard in the West. His defense is on and off. When he wants to play defense, which is very seldom, he does an excellent job of keeping his man in front of him and challenging jump shots. When his defense is off, the Warriors struggle and the opposing guard plays very well, see Arenas, Gilbert. His free throws have been atrocious as he's shooting just 68% from the charity stripe. It's surprising because the last year he was about a 75% shooter. Additionally, his shot selection has been poor and he makes only 39% of his field goals. He sometimes plays out of control jacking up 3's when he should be taking the ball to the hole. I would love for him to learn the game more and become a better basketball player, not just a player who gets by on his athletic skills. He's got so much talent that if he worked on the small parts of his game such as free throws, decision making in running an offense, and defense he'd have a legit gripe for not making the All-Star team. Despite all of the downsides to his game, he's the leader of this team and best player. He gives the Warriors an attitude, a confidence, and a belief that any time he's playing they can win. Without Baron, this team would be looking at a sure fire trip back to the lottery, but with him, there's a chance to make the playoffs. I love the guy's game and what he brings to the team and he's the reason for the renewed hope in the Warriors.
As far as Jason Richardson not making the team, I agree with that as well. Baron is the best player on the team and if Baron doesn't deserve to make it, neither does JRich. That's not a knock on JRich, he's playing amazing ball. He's improved his game greatly every year he's been with the team. This year, he's improved his jumper and dribbling. So now he's able to come off screens with or without the ball and spot up for a jumper or put the ball on the floor and take his defender to the rim. He's up to 23 points per game mainly due to a better field goal percentage and slightly more free throw attempts per game. But, just as Baron, his free throw percentage is awful. The past two years, he's shot 68% and 69% so it should not be a surprise that he's shooting 67% this year. JRich works on all aspects of his game during the off-season, and this coming off-season, he should get his free throws the most attention. If he shoots 75%, he's a 25 point per game scorer not only because he makes more free throws, but because he won't have to work as hard for his points. He won't be afraid to go to the line on a drive to the hole to pick up a foul and some free throws. I love his hard work, hustle, and that he's probably the Warriors most consistent player in terms of what you can expect from him night in and night out. If he had improved his free throw shooting and attempted more free throws per game than three point attempts, combined with a better Warriors record, you could say that JRich got snubbed. Next year, if he continues to improve his defense and fixes that free throw problem, he could very well be an All-Star.
Going forward this year and next, if Baron and JRich both improve their games and can lead the Warriors to a better record, they could both possibly make the All-Star team. But if they continue on their current path, Baron especially, neither will make the team and the Warriors will struggle to make the playoffs. I'd love to see them make these improvements as soon as possible and get the Warriors back into the playoff race. These two carry the team, we need them to be playing the best ball of their careers to make the playoffs.
By the way, former Warriors who got screwed? Gilbert Arenas. Definitely deserved to make the team over Rip Hamilton. The guy is having a monster year for the Wizards. I don't understand how he gets left off. Robbed I tell you. Robbed.
You know what? I take Parker and Paul as my reserves over Allen, JRich, and Baron. If all the "experts" believe Parker deserves an All-Star appearance, I think Paul is better than Parker, so I take both.
Do you think JRich or Baron deserved to make the team? If so, who would you remove from the team?