by Lang Whitaker

Earlier this week I posted my All-Star B Team. Now let’s talk about the actual All-Star teams, since the All-Star starters will be announced tonight on TNT. (And hopefully ESPN doesn’t try to steal the announcements like they did with the MLB All-Star Game.)

Really quickly, who deserves to be in the All-Star Game? Well, we could debate that all day. I’m of the school of thought that you should reward guys having their best seasons, but you should also try to balance that by having as many guys as possible from different cities on the team, since — and let’s be honest here — the NBA wants the ratings to be as high as possible.

Let’s start in the East. According to the most recent results, the balloting for the East starting line-up looks like this:
C — Dwight Howard
PF — Kevin Garnett
SF — LeBron James
SG — Dwyane Wade
PG — Jason Kidd

I don’t really have any beef with any of those guys starting. As for the bench, it gets a little trickier. We need seven players, and the coaches have to pick at least two guards, two forwards and a center. So here are my seven…

BENCH
C — Chris Bosh: I’m not a huge Bosh fan — I think he’s really good but not great — but he’s Toronto’s best player and we have to have at least one Raptor up in here.
PF — Antawn Jamison: Having his best statistical year since 2003.
SF — Caron Butler: Putting up the best numbers of his career.
SG — Paul Pierce: Gotta reward Boston’s leading scorer (even if he’s out of position)…
PG — Chauncey Billups: …and Detroit’s team leader, too.
R1 — Michael Redd: See below…
R2 — Joe Johnson: I put JJ and Mike Redd on here because they’re both having very good seasons, even though they each play on inconsistent teams.
LEFT OFF: Richard Jefferson is having a great season (23.7 ppg) but I couldn’t have two guys from an 18-23 team on here. I also was thinking Gerald Wallace or Hedo Turkoglu could get on the squad, but I’d definitely rather have Redd on there than either of them. Joe Johnson nearly got the axe to create a space, but he’s leading the Hawks in points and assists per game. And he’s on my favorite team. Sorry. And I see you, Calderon. Stay en fuego.

And in the West, the starters look to be…
C — Yao Ming
PF — Tim Duncan
SF — Carmelo Anthony
SG — Kobe Bryant
PG — Tracy McGrady
It’s a good thing you’re injured, T-Mac, because you do not belong here. We still don’t know who the Western Conference coach will be, but I’m assuming whoever it is will do the right thing and put Chris Paul (averaging 21 and 10, plus his team leads the Western Conference and he lives in N’awlins) in T-Mac’s spot. T-Mac, you can stay home and you don’t even have to worry about the rampant crime in New Orleans you worried about last summer. Or maybe you can hang at Camp Chen-A-Wanda.

BENCH
C — Amare Stoudemire: Black Jesus.
PF — Dirk Nowitzki: He’s very quietly had a great 2008 (averaging 21 and 9).
SF — Carlos Boozer: Out of position, sure, but there’s so many great guards out West that it’s either Booz at SF or he doesn’t make the team at all.
SG — Allen Iverson: I didn’t have him on my initial list, but I don’t think you can leave the NBA’s third-leading scorer at home for All-Star.
PG — Steve Nash: Even though his scoring remains down, his apg are way up, and he finally started bringing his TOs down.
R1 — Brandon Roy: Calm down Portland fans, a Blazer made it! Not sure if they’ll be allowed to play any zone defense, though.
R2 — Baron Davis: Gotta have a Warrior on here. Plus BD is a former New Orleanian.
LEFT OFF: Two big names are missing. First, Shawn Marion, who is averaging his lowest ppg since his rookie season. Also, Tony Parker, who I have to leave off simply because there are too many good guards out West (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA gets him onto the team in some way just for the international love, and so Eva can be courtside and drive up the star power). I also really wanted to get either Tyson Chandler or David West on the team, to reward the Hornets and the people of New Orleans for their amazing season thus far, but there’s just no room. Also, Deron Williams doesn’t get a spot, only because I don’t think Utah deserves two spots on this team.

Anyway, that’s how I see it. Your turn…