by Lang Whitaker

The other night, Wifey asked me if I have a vote in the All-Star voting. At first I said No, because she meant did I get a vote in the same way I get to vote on the NBA’s end of season awards. But then I realized that yes, I do have a vote in the awards — we all get to vote!

So, since my ballot counts just as much as yours, I figured I’d publish how I’d vote, 1 through 12, for the All-Star Game this season. We’ll do the East today and the West tomorrow…

STARTING FIVE:
G: Dwyane Wade, MIA — He’s been durable and remarkable. 28.9 ppg and nearly 7 assists per game. The heat have been way better than I thought they’d be so far. As long as D-Wade can keep falling down and getting up, the Heat might mess around and make the Playoffs.

G: Devin Harris, NJN — I’ve been able to see Harris in person a few times this season and he always impresses me. What really gets me is that he’s gone from being a bit player in Dallas to being the focal point in Jersey, and he’s posting career highs across the board. He’s also fast as heck.

F: Paul Pierce, BOS — The leading scorer on the best team in the East, and perhaps the best team in the NBA.

F: LeBron James, CLE — I tabbed him as our MVP before the season started, and he’s done nothing to dissuade me. I predicted he’d go for 30, 8 and 8, but thus far he’s at 27, 7 and 6. Slacker. But his defense has been outstanding (career highs in blocks and steals), and…whatever. If I need to convince you of LeBron’s All-Star candidacy, you shouldn’t be reading our site.

C: Dwight Howard, ORL — I read somewhere recently where someone suggested that Dwight Howard shouldn’t be allowed to dunk the ball during practice. This was mentioned as a way to force Dwight to develop a little more touch around the basket, so he wouldn’t just resort to booming over anyone in his way. As I wrote this, Dwight was averaging 19.9 ppg and 13.9 rpg and 3.7 blocks per game. If he wants to dunk the ball every time he touches it, in practice, on NBA Live, whatever, I this we should all have no problem with that. (And OK, if you want to be practical about it, wouldn’t Dwight playing differently than he does in practice seem to defeat the purpose of practicing as a team, so everyone gets used to how each other plays in games?)

BENCH
G: Mo Williams, CLE — 16 ppg and 4 apg don’t seem that eye-popping, but he’s pushed Cleveland into uncharted territory.

G: Joe Johnson, ATL — I’ve watched almost every game JJ played this season and every night he impresses me more and more. Even though he leads the Hawks in points (23.2 ppg), he’s also 10th in the Eastern Conference in assists per game. He gets doubled night after night and rarely makes the wrong pass out of the double. And he’s probably Atlanta’s best on-the-ball defender (and has them at 19-10 right now).

G: Derrick Rose, CHI — I tried to come up with reasons not to put Derrick Rose on this team. He doesn’t really “run” the Bulls like a veteran point guard would, and he can’t guard his shadow. But I watched him against the Hawks the other night and his speed is just ridiculous. He might be the most exciting player I’ve seen in person this season, and while I’d like to see his total game improve as the year progresses, he’s a devastating player and fun to watch, and what better place to showcase the future of the League than in the All-Star Game?

F: Danny Granger, IND — I saw him play in the NCAA Tournament when he was in college, and he didn’t impress me whatsoever; I thought he was going to be at best a complimentary player in the NBA. Now he’s averaging 24.5 ppg and has had a great all-around first half. Indy might be a mess, but not for Granger’s lack of trying.

F: Chris Bosh, TOR — Everyone thought that Toronto adding Jermaine O’Neal would free up Bosh. And maybe it has, though JO isn’t the threat he used to be. Still, Bosh is averaging a double-double and has developed into the face of the NBA in Canada. Which is better than when it used to be Isiah Thomas, I suppose.

F: Rashard Lewis, ORL — Sure, he’s overpaid, but he still produces and helps spread the floor for Dwight. And he’s a huge part of Orlando’s 24-6 start.

C: Kevin Garnett, BOS — If it wasn’t for Dwight, I’d have him as a starter. Like him or not, he defines leadership.

Who didn’t make it? Now look, I know I don’t have anyone from Detroit on my team. If the playoffs started today, Detroit would be the 5 seed. They also have 7 starters, according to coach Michael Curry, and they have 6 dudes averaging double figures. All great, and perhaps the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I just couldn’t figure out who I’d put on my team over the guys I did put on. The coaches will probably put Rajon Rondo on the team to reward his improvement and Boston’s dominance, though I’m still not convinced that Rondo isn’t mostly a product of playing with three Hall of Famers. Others I considered: Vince Carter, Jose Calderon, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Emeka Okafor, Richard Jefferson.