PBT’s All-Star reserves — no Celtics, no Mavs, no apologies

35 Comments

This is the hard part. And the fun part. Picking the NBA All-Star game reserves.

The voters picked the starting five from each team, but picking the reserves is a balancing act of rewarding good players and making sure the teams doing well get represented. You can’t make this omelet without breaking some eggs, and I’m breaking the Celtics — they get none. No Knicks backups either.

And out West, no Mavericks make it.

It’s a harsh world where tough decisions get made. Here are my picks.

Eastern Conference Reserves:
Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, Joe Johnson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert.

Just missed out: Luol Deng, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ryan Anderson, Tyson Chandler, Darren Collison, Danny Granger, Lou Williams

Why: Rajon Rondo would have made it had it not been for the injury. The next best point guard not listed to me is Holiday, who has been a go to guy on the Sixers, as much as they have one. I gave serious consideration to Kyrie Irving for a spot, who has had a fantastic start to the season, I don’t care if he’s a rookie. If you want to put Irving in there I am good with that. I just had to get a couple of Sixers in there.

Deng is a glue guy that is hard guy to leave off as he has been huge, but the injuries set him back. Didn’t like leaving Ryan Anderson off either, he has had a great start to the season. Leaving Granger off hurt, but that is a deep position.

I have Hibbert making it because at least one Pacer should make it to represent them. If you want to make it Granger and remove the Hawks Johnson go ahead, but now you’re disrespecting a Hawks team with the second best record in the East (better than the Pacers).

Western Conference Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol

Just missed the cut: Pau Gasol, Nene, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson, Al Harrington, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Marcin Gortat.

Why? First, to me Love, Westbrook and Aldridge should be unquestioned locks.

With Andrew Bynum as a starter it came down to Nene, Gortat and Marc Gasol at the backup five spot, and while you can make a real case for Gortat (who is having a fantastic year) so is Marc Gasol and he has had to take on more of a load with Zach Randolph down. So Gasol got my nod. Besides, doesn’t there always have to be one Gasol on the All-Start team?

Pau Gasol has been inconsistent and Dirk Nowitzki is just not having a good year. Steve Nash missed a couple games with injuries but you can put him on — you just can’t take off Westbrook (Gay would be my last guy to make the cut). Gallinari has been the leading scorer on a selfless team in Denver that has the second best record in the West.

Russell Westbrook threw it down all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Leave a comment

A rough night for the Thunder will not stop the Russell Westbrook highlights.

The Thunder had another poor game and fell to a Hornets. Westbrook tried to push the team back, but the Thunder defense that has kept them in games all season was not good enough against Charlotte, and the OKC offense was once again up and down.

Westbrook had 30 points on 22 shots on the night, and none of them were as impressive as this transition throwdown on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Jahlil Okafor excited about fresh start with Nets

Getty Images
1 Comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Jahlil Okafor finally got the fresh start he wanted.

Okafor was the consensus No. 1 high school player in his class, won a national championship at Duke, and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then things changed drastically.

Okafor struggled with injuries and a logjam at his position in his second season.

“When I first got drafted there, we already had Nerlens (Noel) there, Joel (Embiid) was there, so we’re trying to have three starting centers on the same team,” Okafor said Monday at his introductory news conference with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“It just never really was the right fit.”

The 76ers traded Okafor along with seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas and two draft picks to the Nets on Thursday. Philadelphia got forward Trevor Booker from Brooklyn.

Okafor also had off-court problems during his time in Philadelphia. He got a speeding ticket for driving 108 miles per hour and was suspended by the 76ers for two games after in an altercation outside of a Boston nightclub with a heckler.

“Speeding obviously is illegal,” Okafor said. “I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do. I guess you just learn how the page can turn on you and how everything can flip. I can’t really say I learned anything, because you know going in that’s not right. You just learn from your mistakes, but (it was) a tough thing that I went through, I got past, and I’m looking to better times now.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, joins D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the same draft class, on the Nets.

“We’re just very excited to get on the court together,” Okafor said. “You never would’ve thought the number two and number three picks would be playing on the same team a few years after, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited.”

Russell also had problems on and off the court with the team that drafted him. He was criticized for recording a video of former Lakers teammate Nick Young that aired sordid details about Young’s private life. The Lakers gave up on Russell and drafted Lonzo Ball as his replacement.

“I feel like we’re similar in that we have a lot to prove,” Okafor said. “I know he’s working his (butt) off as well. Right now he’s rehabbing, trying to get back on the court. I think we both have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove. We’re definitely similar in that regard.”

Okafor understands he has areas to improve, mainly defense and rebounding.

“I’m not a perfect player,” Okafor said. “I’m 21. There are things that I need to work on, that I have worked on and that I’ll continue to work on.”

He’s excited about fulfilling his potential with a new team.

“I feel really motivated right now, but I’ve always been motivated,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

 

Report: Celtics’ Marcus Morris to miss “extended time” to let knee heal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marcus Morris missed the Celtics’ first eight games of the season in an effort to get healthy. Upon his return he’s been solid, first as a starter, then coming off the bench, but his left knee continued to be an issue.

Morris was out Sunday when the Celtics beat the Pistons, and he’s going to miss more time trying to get a troublesome left knee right, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

How much time is “extended time?” Probably at least a couple of weeks.

Morris has averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this season, with a true shooting percentage of 52.5, which is right around the league average.

This could mean more run for rookie forwards Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, both of whom have played well in limited minutes.

Tristan Thompson expected to return to Cavaliers Tuesday, come off bench

Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could play for the first time since Nov. 1 on Tuesday against Atlanta.

Thompson has been sidelined with a strained left calf. The team initially said Thompson would be out for up to four weeks, but he said Monday that timeline was inaccurate and that his injury was more serious. Thompson did not divulge any other details about the injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue says Thompson will not start when he returns, meaning Kevin Love will remain at center. Thompson says he’s fine with a reserve role and made it clear he’s willing to do whatever Lue needs.

The Cavaliers have won 14 of 15 and their defense has improved dramatically over the past month.

Thompson says he’ll have the same mindset on the floor as always and “just be myself. Being myself has worked out pretty well for me.”