These should be your All-Star Game reserves

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The fans have spoken — the 10 NBA All-Star Game starters have been chosen. And as we said before, good on ya. The fans did well this time around.

The way this works is the fans pick the five starters, then the coaches (or more likely an assistant coach, or the video guy, or the team PR guy) pick the next seven. Then David Stern gets one last pick, because he is David Stern.

We’re not sure who the coaches will pick, but here’s who they should pick. Or at least who would be on our ballot if we were a coach (or an assistant coach, or the video guy, or the team PR guy).

Eastern Conference:

Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks, center): Dude is blowing up this season and nobody noticed. He’s still scoring (16.3 per game) but doing it with the best shooting percentage of his career (57 percent). His rebounding is still strong, but his assist percentage is way up while his turnovers are way down. Horford is another guy who exemplifies why the ballot needs to be changed.

Chris Bosh (Miami Heat, forward): Averaging 18.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, and if you don’t think he’s key for Miami you haven’t watched the last couple games with him out.

Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics, forward): The anchor of the best team in the East so far. He is moving like the old KG this season, and that should scare teams come the playoffs.

Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics, forward): Scoring 19 points a game to lead the Celtics and shooting a better-than-Ray Allen 51.4 percent. This isn’t really even a question, unless you are Josh Smith’s mom.

Ray Allen (Boston Celtics, guard): Bill Walton was doing the Boston broadcast of last night’s game and said this of Allen’s jumper: “Flawless … like Yosemite Falls coming right through the rim.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics, guard): I can’t wait to see him throw an ally-oop to LeBron in transition. Maybe the best passing point guard in the game, and he’s improved his game enough to be here easily.

And yes, four Celtics get in.

Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls, forward): He’s only played 27 games since returning from a hand injury, and he’s missed games since… and he’s still the best player in the East for the final spot. You can make a case for Joe Johnson or Josh Smith out of Atlanta, there’s a buzz for Raymond Felton. I would not be livid with any of those. But for the guy who has been the best when he played, it’s Boozer for me.

As tough as that last pick was, it’s nothing like choosing the reserves for the…

Western Conference:

Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers, forward): He probably should have been chosen over Carmelo Anthony by the fans, but Gasol should get to start anyway when Gregg Popovich names him to step in for Yao Ming. Gasol still the most fundamentally sound big in the game.

Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks, forward): This is another gimmee — until his injury he was in the running for league MVP. Plus, we need someone in this game to shoot a lot of contested long two pointers… wait, forgot we already had ‘Melo.

Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves, forward): The best rebounder in the game. Nifty footwork that gets him good looks. The game should be about rewarding excellence and Love has been that this season, even if it took Kurt Rambis a while to realize it.

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers, forward): Tough call with LaMarcus Aldridge, Lamar Odom and David West all being very deserving. At the end of the day the All-Star game is an exhibition, and while I might pick West first for a playoff game I’ll take Griffin first in this setting.

Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs, guard): The best player and leading scorer on the best team in the league. Another must from the coaches.

Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder, guard): If the Thunder are a better team this season, Westbrook is the reason why. He has taken a leap forward.

Deron Williams (Utah Jazz, guard): He is the Utah Jazz, and the Jazz are pretty good (well, except for the past couple weeks, but we’ll overlook that for these purposes). Debate if he is the best or third best PG in the game, but he is certainly an All-Star.

Yao Ming’s replacement (David Stern will fill this roster spot): Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs, center, er, forward): Yes he’s older, the scoring and offense now flow through Ginobili and Parker. Yes, Tyson Chandler is a legitimate consideration here. Duncan still anchors the defense, rebounds and gets key buckets for the league’s best team. He has earned the spot.

Is FIBA’s decision to move World Cup to year before Olympics reason for USA drop outs?

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FIBA made a mess of World Cup qualifying moving the games from the summer to during the season for the NBA and all the major European leagues. The USA qualified thanks to a team of G-League players coached by Jeff Van Gundy, but the process was not pretty. For anyone.

Now it could be another FIBA decision that has led to the rash of stars — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and others — deciding not to play for Team USA this summer.

Traditionally, the FIBA World Cup took place every four years, on the even-numbered year between Summer Olympic cycles. For example, the last World Cup was 2014, the Rio Olympics were 2016 with the Tokyo games in 2020. However, FIBA pushed this World Cup back a year to 2019 (instead of 2018) and that has changed the calculus for players, something Michael Lee of The Athletic speculated about.

For American players, the Olympics are the bigger draw, when more people watch. We grew up with the Dream Team at the Olympics, not the World Championships. That means if players have to choose, despite the allure of the Chinese market, they will choose the Olympics next year.

The other factor: The NBA feels wide open, with as many as eight teams heading into the season believing they can win the title. A lot of those contending teams have new players, which is leading players to prioritize club over country this time around.

This is different from 2004, when the NBA’s top players stayed home from the Athens Olympics because of a combination of terrorist concerns and players not liking coach Larry Brown. Today’s players love Gregg Popovich, but other concerns are weighing on them more.

It has left team USA without the biggest stars of the game — Kemba Walker is the only All-NBA player on the roster — but USA Basketball has such a depth of talent that they are still the World Cup favorites. The margin for error just got a lot smaller, however.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was working on jump shot with Kyle Korver (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s jumper is getting better. Last season after the All-Star break he shot 31.5 percent from three (up from 22.3 before the ASG) and in the playoffs that jumped to 32.7 percent. He struggled on catch-and-shoot threes in those final 19 games after the ASG, shooting just 16.7 percent, but off the bounce he shot 33.8 percent after the break. Also, all of last season he didn’t take many long twos, but when he did he shot 41 percent on them.

What would make his jumper better? Working on his shot with the newest Buck, Kyle Korver.

Which is happening.

Be afraid NBA. Be very afraid.

Antetokounmpo recently said he is only at about 60 percent of his potential. If he can start to consistently hit threes off the bounce when defenses sag back off the pick-and-roll (trying to take away his drives), he might become unstoppable. Or, more unstoppable. If that’s a thing.

Zion Williamson signs shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand

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Russell Westbrook. Jimmy Butler. Blake Griffin. Chris Paul.

And now Zion Williamson has joined them as a Jordan Brand athlete. Williamson announced that he had signed with Jordan on his Instagram.

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Let’s Dance #JUMPMAN

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Williamson was probably the biggest shoe free agent on the market this summer. While still a rookie, he already is a huge marketing presence — Summer League in Las Vegas sold out to see him the first two nights (people ended up disappointed) — and it was estimated he would make north of $10 million a year on his rookie shoe deal.

While we have not heard official numbers yet, the rumors are he did get that money.

If true, this is the second-largest rookie shoe deal in history. LeBron James got seven-years, $87 million, however, Williamson is second and bumps Kevin Durant to third (seven years, $60 million).

There are rumors Puma had offered even a larger contact, but Williamson wanted to be a Jordan brand guy.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a statement. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to.”

“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Michael Jordan said in a statement. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”

Nike continues to dominate the NBA and basketball shoe market, with more than two-thirds of NBA players wearing Nikes. Even still, landing Williamson — who will play for the New Orleans Pelicans — was such a big score that Nike stock jumped up one percent on the news. He has the potential to be the next LeBron or Durant for Nike, if he can live up to the hype and weight of being the most discussed No. 1 pick in a decade.

He’s the kind of player who could sell a lot of shoes, and Jordan is betting on just that.

Al Horford calls Celtics’ reported tampering allegations ‘ridiculous’

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The Celtics have reportedly complained about the 76ers tampering with Al Horford.

Horford opted out, and it seemed he could return to Boston. But more than a week before free agency officially began, a report emerged he’d leave the Celtics while expecting a four-year, $100 million contract elsewhere. He committed to the 76ers on the first day of free agency, getting $97 million guaranteed and up to $109 million over four years.

What did Horford make of tampering allegations coming from Boston, where Danny Ainge runs the front office?

Horford on The Dan Patrick Show:

It’s pretty ridiculous. But it is what it is. Danny – I love Danny. Danny was always really good to me. I know that he’s definitely frustrated with things didn’t work out with us.

Notice the lack of a denial.

But Horford is right: It’s ridiculous. Because the Celtics are hypocrites who locked up Kemba Walker before free agency officially began.

Though Boston’s specific complaints don’t hold water, there are legitimate issues with the wider landscape.