Friday, January 28th, 2011 at 11:45 am  |  55 responses

In Search of Yao Ming’s All-Star Replacement

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Despite being physically unable to take part in any game, let alone the All-Star bonanza, Yao Ming was neverthless voted in by his legion of fans as the starting center. Now, a replacement must be found.

The leading candidates for the spot are Pau Gasol, and some may even argue, Tyson Chandler. Gasol is being non-chalant about it; Chandler, though, is pushing hard to play on the big stage.

The Press-Enterprise and Star-Telegram have the quotes:

Chandler, who amazingly wasn’t even on the All-Star ballot this year, is hoping someone will notice his solid contributions to the Mavs and find a way to make sure he locks up a spot on the West squad. “It’s not up to me, it comes down to the coaches,” Chandler said. “I just hope they look at what I’ve done this year for my team, and I hope they look at it that way … It would mean a lot to me (to make the West team), being my first time,” he said. “If it happens and for me to able to play in front of my friends and family in LA, it would mean an awful lot to me.”

Chandler averages 9.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.22 blocks for the 30-15 Mavs. Among Western Conference centers he is third in rebounding, seventh in scoring and eighth in blocks..

“It’s not my call,” [Pau Gasol] said of a possible replacement for Yao. “One player or another it doesn’t matter. … Who makes that call? Commissioner picks. You’ve got to call him up. I can’t call him up.” [Gasol] did agree ‘there’s a chance” he could be picked.

Gasol has the clear and obvious advantage over Chandler — his stats are inarguably more impressive in every meaningful category, the Lakers have a better record than Dallas, and um, the All-Star Game is being played in L.A. It’d be shocking if Pau didn’t get the nod.

Tyson Chandler’s battle will be to get in as a backup big, with competition coming from Andrew Bynum, Emeka Okafor and Nene.

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  • http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php?title=Russell_vs._Wilt nbk

    make it Tim Duncan so that one of the other reserve spots can go to Kevin Love

  • RunNGun

    I say Nene!

  • Ctp

    Why isn’t Al Jefferson at least in the conversation?

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    Because Utah suck.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    Bc Al Jefferson sucks.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    I say Bynum. He’s made LA a great defensive team since his return and they’ve gotten their ish together as well.

  • RunNGun

    Jefferson doesn’t play a lick of defense and is a black hole on offense.

  • RunNGun

    Jefferson is a black hole on offense and doesn’t play a lick of defense.

  • unrel

    pau starts and just have the bench be filled up with PFs and Centers..

  • bakers’-dozen

    Nene has the pts and rebounds per game advantage, plus he leads the NBA with 63% shooting percentage. This should be a no-brainer. Plus, Bynum missed half the season thus far while Nene hasn’t missed more tahn 2-3 games this year.

  • http://www.kobebeefnba.com LDR4

    Gasol is on the ballot as a forward. Now that Bynum is back that is where he starts. Gasol may play more minutes at center but he is still a four. I cannot say I am surprised that Mutoni would think a Laker deserves something. Shocker, right? Nonetheless, Chandler’s contributions this season cannot be dismissed and is the best true center in the West. Since the All Star game is predicated on listed positions, Chandler is the obvious choice.

  • J.C.

    Didn’t I read somewhere that the Commish doesn’t have to necessarily pick a Center?

  • http://simonlawy888.blogspot.com Simon Lawy

    seriously, Kevin Love

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Man, if Chandler makes the all-star game with 9.6, 9.0 and 1.2 averages, that means Noah would’ve been a lock with his 14.0, 11.7 and 1.6 (plus 2.7 apg and 1.2 spg).
    Hopefully Noah can stay healthy next year and make the game.
    And I think Pau should get Yao’s spot.

  • Oli

    can’t we first wait until the coaches have select the reserves before speculating about who the sternbot will pick as yao’s replacement? thank you.
    dirk 4 starting center in the west!!!

  • Oli

    @J.C.: that’s right. this could be monta’s chance although i think stern will rather select a third spur (tp or duncan) or laker (odom or bynum) over monta.

  • BS

    Kevin Love, enough said…..

    The next below him is clearly Al Jefferson, Then maybe Pau Gasol

  • http://slamonline.com Yknot

    Lets call Blake a center and get it over with!

  • Drew

    I never understood these things. Look it’s an All Star Game. Vote the best players, because it’s all about highlights and entertainment anyways. They only play “serious” the last 2 minutes of the game and only if the score is close.

  • Drew

    Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to add that I agree with Yknot, just make Griffin a Center and call it a day.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    If the heat, celtics, or lakers had the spurs record……………… ……

  • RunNGun

    drew: the majority of fans don’t vote for the best players anymore. it’s become a popularity contest. just look who was voted to start at CENTER…

  • bashmo

    Well, that’s because Yao is the arguably the best centre in the league when healthy. But also because of his millions of fans in China. So, your call. But I think that it should be Gasol to back him up, no doubt.

  • Towelie

    Gasol, Love or Al Jeff.

  • The Anti-Crust

    Gasol has played center the bulk of his games as a Laker. Anybody that denies that is using “old school logic”, yes the game is in Los Angeles. The league is all about image, and having Gasol and Kobe start would be positive. Chandler is having a great year, Bynum is having a great start to his year, keep in mind his minutes were limited when he first came back. The argument of Nene deserving it because of his 63% shooting percentage, is weak. Are you going to automatically put Steve Nash in the game because of his free throw shooting, besides the fact he is still one of the top “1′s” in the NBA??? Al Jefferson, 16/8…good but Utah…think about last Summer and FIBA, Lamar Odom played center over Chandler quite a bit, ask yourself why…the All-Star game is always a fast paced up and down game…I say Gasol….and LO deserves it (15.6/9.5…half of it coming off the bench)….Chandler in, Love in….Bynum…may be the one squeezed out…

  • Yann Blavec

    It was said in a former issue of Slam that we should get rid of center in the all-star game cause they slow down the game. I should add that i agree and that we hardly see a center on a fast break. Ok, they are the last line on defense and sometimes are slow.

  • jufu

    LOVE. for christ’s sakes kevin love.

  • RunNGun

    I have no issue w/Yao but he’s been injured all year. I still say this spot should go to Nene.

  • http://zenguu Max

    West centers are so good.

  • Keith Bogans

    let greg oden start!

  • hoodsnake

    Sternbot will obviously pick Griffin for a little thing called ratings. I approve…

  • Jer Boi


  • http://dodgers.com Joey E.

    guys, stop naming centers. every year when someone gets hurt, stern replaces them with anyone. when a big gets hurt, he’s replaced them with a guard and vice versa. what’s going to happen is this: Deron, Westbrook, Manu, Duncan, Dirk, Griffin, Pau will be voted in by the coaches. Stern will then select Kevin Love.

  • http://asdfkll.com Jukai

    Kobe, Paul, Durant, Melo, Gasol starters.
    Manu, Williams, Dirk, Blake, Love, Aldridge, and Monta/Nash/Westbrook.
    I don’t think it’s that hard to pick the all-star team.
    I do think that if you think Lamar Odom deserves an all-star nod with the Lakers second in the west and the best team only deserving one player, you’re a tool

  • ab40

    I don’t think any center in the west is all star worthy. put in pau. if you realy want to put td on the bench although he realy doesn’t feel like it.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear


  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    You can tell Big Al is still finding his groove back from that nasty knee injury he had a a season and a half ago. But when he’s in full form he’s fantastic. Al Jefferson deserves the nod. He and Millsap have made Boozer’s departure pretty much a non-story.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Kap don’t be ridiculous, Andrew Bynum has never been CLOSE to Al Jefferson’s level. First Lamar Odom, and now Andrew Bynum should be an All-Star? Wow…

  • float_world

    Poor writing on this article. If you’re going to compare Chandler’s to Gasol, why not state what Pau’s numbers are in the piece as well?

  • http://sdfjklf.com Jukai

    Al Jefferson is doing 16.7-8.8 and just under two blocks on under 50% shooting.
    Yeah, I’ll pass on Al Jefferson

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    Manu is def in. Tony should be, tim too. ……. Coaches are smart. Kevin love will most def NOT make it. Lwolves are what? 10-35? Sheeeeeeeeeeeet

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    17 and 9 on 48% shooting isn’t All-Star worthy? I actually agree with your list there, Jukai, I’m just saying–Al Jefferson would be a serviceable replacement, probably more so than Nene. But your list is good.

  • http://www.acb.com A l a n

    I really hope Pau makes it. If it’s not this year, then he never will be a starter. And I think it’s really deserving, playing at home and being decisive for 3 straight Finals appearances. Lakers were 6th when Pau arrived. How many players of those lists could have had the same impact?

  • Omar

    3 Spurs, Blake, Deron, Dirk and Westbrook. No Love for losers with inflated stats.

  • Daniel Dragicevich

    Blake Griffin and Andrew Bogut

  • Will Lee

    tim duncan is the centre c’mon

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Holy cow, these comments are like when teacher asked the class who their favourite Power Ranger was. Just yell it out, kids!

  • Armando

    How is this even a debate? Chandler, Nene, Mek, Bynum, Jefferson?? Seriously! If it’s not Pau something is seriously wrong. How can anyone even argue anything else? And please learn the rules people. Neither the commish or the coaches need to take listed position or ballot position into consideration when selecting replacements or reserves, just name a player that can play the position.

    Pau should start for Yao and the reserves should be Williams, Ginobili, Nowitzki, Griffin, Nash, Westbrook with the final spot coming down to Love (insane stat line), Aldridge (carrying the Blazers and having a career year) and Odom (probably as good as the former two but playing a smaller role on better team).

    In the East fans nailed it with the starters but after that there aren’t seven deserving players in the conference. Garnett, Rondo, Horford, Pierce and … who?

  • matt

    Pau is PF,so is timmy D,Dirk and Blake, not a center … and that means the choice would be between chandler, bynum and mek i guess ….

  • whoooo!

    if Duncan somehow doesn’t get picked by the coaches, do you really think Stern is gonna pick Aldridge, big Al, or Kevin Love over Duncan as the final spot? Duncan’s in cruise control w/ limited minutes, but his team’s #1 in the league, he has his reputation, and at the end of the day you still want him on your team in the playoffs moreso than those other guys.

  • KH10

    Pau needs to start, I would rather see Marcus Camby in there than Tyson, Camby has deserved it for years, it would be a shame if he and possibly Lamar never make it to an ASG while scrubs like Dale davis, Antonio Davis, Jamal Mcgloire and big Z have all sneaked in.

  • JD

    Its just ridiculous the all star ballot nowadays that were talking bout a guy who topped 20 for only the first time in the last two years a couple of nights back seroiusly being an all star, surely if gasol counts as a centre then so does tim duncan

  • jakedouglasroberts

    none of my teachers gave a damn who my favorite power ranger was.

    also, z-bo for a reserve, pau or griff for starter.

  • Armando

    @matt… learn the selection rules.

  • Armando

    And seriously, if anyone of you watched a game with two teams consisting of players you didn’t know, would you be able to distinguish between the PF and the C?