Derrick Rose likely would have been eating beignets


Dec 12

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Do the Bulls have any All-Stars?

Well, not the way they’ve been playing lately, you might say.

But they have some players who will be able to make a good case for the Eastern Conference team in the next month.

The NBA Thursday released the first fan balloting results for the Feb. 16 All-Star game in New Orleans. And the guess here based on the early indications is that Luol Deng probably is the team’s leading candidate to be in New Orleans.

And not just because he’ll be there as the players’ representative for their annual meeting.

In the first returns, Derrick Rose finished third, the highest spot for any Bulls player, in the backcourt voting behind Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving.

There are two starters from the “backcourt” group and three from the “frontcourt” group. The coaches then select the seven reserves.

It seems obvious Rose would have been voted a starter by the fans ahead of Irving and perhaps Wade no matter how the Bulls were doing. Rose slipping to third seems a reflection of his Nov. 22 knee injury that will keep him out until next season. The NBA keeps players on the ballot and lists their votes. Then if they cannot play and are voted in by the fans, the commissioner will select a replacement. With Rose out it’s likely his vote total will remain out of the top two even as his totals will appear each time.

Given their early vote margins, it seems likely based on historical patterns that Wade and Irving will start for the Eastern Conference in the backcourt. John Wall is fourth and Ray Allen fifth in fan voting. Rajon Rondo, who hasn’t played yet, is sixth. Deron Williams is seventh. But it reflects his unpopularity even with fans that he is below Rondo, who isn’t scheduled to play anytime soon.

Thus is will depend on standings. A guess would be Washington’s Wall in the backcourt given his high fan vote total. If the Nets come on Williams could be chosen. There are other guards having good seasons with poor teams, like Arron Afflalo, Evan Turner and DeMar DeRozan. The Hawks figure to get a player, but more likely a front court player even as Jeff Teague has played well.

The coaches will add two or three guards. That generally is based on teams with winning records, which will be difficult in the Eastern Conference this season unless you put on only Heat and Pacers players. But since neither has a high quality guard other than Wade, it should be an interesting race.

The East coaches with a lack of big men in the starting lineup, however, are more likely to add an extra frontcourt player.

For Bulls players, the interesting competition will be in the frontcourt voting, where the center position was eliminated last year as it is with many teams, like the defending champion Heat.

Joakim Noah was seventh, Deng ninth and Carlos Boozer 12th in the first fan voting results.

The leaders are LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Those three likely will be the starters based on fan choices. Which probably makes LeBron the starting center. So it’s good no one much plays in the first quarter.

Roy Hibbert figures to be a lock given how well the Pacers have done. And there’s a good chance the coaches would add David West, who plays a vital role for the Pacers. And while Chris Bosh isn’t having a high level season, he often gets selected and Miami will have a good record.

Rudy Gay having been traded his votes move to the Western Conference.

Coaches tend to like Deng for his all around play and he has a resume with two straight appearances. Though it will depend on how well the team does and whether Deng can play enough games given health issues. Similarly for Noah and Boozer.

So there probably are two or three spots after James, George, Anthony and Hibbert.

Given the Hawks will hang around .500, it’s likely Al Horford gets selected over Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce probably are out as poorly as they have played as well as the Nets. Brook Lopez is a possibility, though you’d figure there couldn’t be two players from the Nets.

It seems likely Deng, Noah and Boozer will be competing for one or two spots. The others in the mix could be big men having good statistical seasons, like Spencer Hawes, Nik Vucevic and Andre Drummond. Others possibles include Jeff Green, Gerald Henderson and Josh Smith. It should come down to which of their teams is in playoff position no matter the record.

The Western Conference selection will be more controversial with a lot of complaining given how many teams are doing well.

In the frontcourt, the leaders are Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin. Kevin Love is close and could push one of the latter two out.

The vote from Turkey must have come in early as Omer Asik was 15th in the fan voting despite playing little.

Given the season he and his Trail Blazers are having, LaMarcus Aldridge should be certain. That leaves two big man spots in the West, one of which likely should go to Dirk Nowitzki. Given how well the Spurs have played, Tim Duncan probably should get the other.

Others players with good statistics include DeMarcus Cousins, who likely has no chance given his team’s record and his often erratic behavior, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bogut, Serge Ibaka, Kenneth Faried, Gordon Hayward, Anthony Davis if he recovers from injury soon enough, Zach Randolph and David Lee.

Though with such a talent level in the backcourt, the coaches probably would go with six Western Conference backcourt players and one fewer in the frontcourt.

In the backcourt, the West fan voting leaders are Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. It likely will stay that way, though Stephen Curry could overtake Paul. This is where someone deserving will be left out from among Curry, Klay Thompson, Monta Ellis, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley and someone from the Suns. You could make an All-Star team with the players who will be left off the Western Conference team.

Balloting concludes Jan. 20.

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