Boozer and Deng skipped for All-Star team


Feb 3

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or their Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

The coaches in the Eastern Conference pretty much decided Derrick Rose is carrying the Bulls and no member of the Boston Celtics deserves league MVP consideration.

At least that is one way to interpret the results for All-Star reserves announced Thursday with four Celtics being voted by the coaches to the All-Star team, while Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng were omitted.

The reserves for the Eastern Conference are Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen of the Celtics, Al Horford and Joe Johnson of the Hawks and Chris Bosh of the Heat.

That means there will be three members of the Miami Heat, four from the Celtics and two from Atlanta to join Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire.

If the Celtics need four All-Stars to stay three games ahead of the Bulls with one, you might also say the Bulls are a lot closer to the top of the East than previously imagined.

The Western Conference reserves are Tim Duncan–who was something of a surprise–Pau Gasol, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili and rookie Blake Griffin from the Clippers.

They join Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Yao Ming, who will be replaced by the commissioner.

With Duncan making the team by vote of the coaches, the commissioner likely will choose from among Steve Nash, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis, Tony Parker and Lamar Odom.

The most obvious omissions from the East team are likely Boozer, Deng, Josh Smith and Ray Felton.

With the coaches selecting Duncan, it is expected Western Conference coach Gregg Popovich of the Spurs almost certainly will pick Duncan as the starting center. Although the commissioner will pick the replacement, the coach decides which reserve or replacement will start. The irony is Duncan and the Spurs have long objected to listing Duncan as a center on the All-Star ballot and have filed complaints with the league. Now, Duncan likely starts at center with a group of power forwards he’d have no chance of getting voted ahead of in perhaps his poorest individual season of his career.

The Bulls could certainly have a gripe about the selections as they were tied for second in the East going into Thursday’s games, just three games behind the Celtics despite both Boozer and Joakim Noah being out at least a month each.

But the coaches tend to give extra credit to the players from the team that was last in the Finals and still doing well, that being the Celtics in the East. It’s questionable how much of an All-Star type season Gasol has had, but coaches tend to give the defending champion the benefit of the doubt as well even as Gasol has played so indifferently at times that many feel Lamar Odom has been more a factor for the Lakers and Kobe Bryant has been critical of Gasol’s play.

Several years back, the Pistons landed four reserves for the game as a result of winning a title.

It was also a bit of a surprise that Johnson was added with the Hawks three and a half games behind the Bulls and Johnson having missed nine games. Johnson has been hot of late, averaging 26 this month. But overall Johnson has not been as statistically productive as Boozer, who also averages double figure rebounds.

Actually, Johnson is having one of his poorer seasons and is shooting threes at an eight year low. It, frankly, seems inconceivable he would be considered an All-Star and suggests the coaches don’t pay that much attention to what is going on in the league.

In fact, Boozer has higher overall statistics of points and rebounds or points and assists of any of the seven reserves selected for the Eastern team. Boozer missing 18 games in November with a broken hand likely hurt his cause. Also, Joakim Noah seemed certain to be selected until he went out with surgery in early December. As for Deng, he’s the league’s Rodney Dangerfield: He doesn’t get any (or enough) respect.

Deng is averaging 17.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists and shooting a career high 35.3 percent on threes, plus with being the team’s best individual defender.

“We’re disappointed for both Carlos and Luol,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. “It’s our feeling that both are having All-Star seasons and have contributed greatly to our success to this point.”

Also, it would seem Ray Allen is a stretch. Allen is shooting well on threes, 45.8 percent, but he doesn’t lead the Celtics in any major statistical category.

As for Bosh, who likely polled just ahead of Boozer, his inclusion is probably not a surprise given all the publicity and TV games the Heat gets and that he has missed just four games and when he was out recently, the Heat fared poorly. Still, his averages are lower than Boozer’s in scoring and rebounding.

Griffin becomes the first rookie to play in the All-Star game since Duncan while there was controversy about the omission of Love, leading the NBA in rebounding by a wide margin. But Love’s Timberwolves are ahead of just the Cavaliers and it’s not unreasonable, it seems to me, to leave off a player putting up big numbers without effectively impacting winning.

Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge with comparable numbers on playoff contending teams make a better case along with Steve Nash, who has the Suns back in playoff contention despite major offseason turnover.

What do you think? Leave a comment below: