Archive for the 'All-Star 2009' Category

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Pau Talks All-Star

*UPDATE: Gasol has officially been named a reserve for the Western Conference All-Stars.

Lakers big man Pau Gasol is still in the dark about where he’ll be spending his All-Star weekend.

“They’re not telling me anything,” Gasol said after Wednesday’s practice. “The year that I made it they told me a day or two prior to the official time.”

All-Star reserves will officially be announced on TNT tonight prior to the Cavs/Magic game.

“I’m looking forward to know just so I can be really excited and happy about being apart of it or I can be maybe a little disappointed and upset about it.”

As we’ve outlined in the past, the numbers seem to indicate that Pau should be making a trip to Phoenix as a Western Conference All-Star. Gasol’s numbers aren’t gaudy, neither are his minutes played (just 35.4 per game, good for 50th in the league), but his impact to the team with the best record in the West is undeniable. The national media seems to have taken notice.

ESPN’s Marc Stein focuses on what Gasol has meant to the Lakers as a whole in his selections.

You will find All-Stars with gaudier numbers than Pau’s 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and 55.7 percent shooting — and injuries to Carlos Boozer and Carmelo Anthony have created frontcourt openings that might not have been there otherwise — but Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson would be the first to concur that the Spaniard’s arrival, as much as anything, is what has pitched the Lakers so far ahead of everyone else in the West. He has to be in Phoenix.

Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelley Dwyer points out Pau’s ridiculous efficiency.

Before you accuse me of handing a slot over to a borderline All-Star just because he’s on a very good team, check the stats: 17 and nine rebounds and 55 percent shooting in only 35 minutes? That’s efficient, brilliant, basketball. Throw in three and a half assists and a block, and you have an All-Star.

Finally, NBA.com’s Dave McMenamin talks about the Spaniard’s overall meaning to the Lakers and backs it up with some nifty stats.

Gasol has been a huge part of the Lakers’ success this year. Los Angeles is 13-3 this season when Gasol scores 20 points or more and 13-3 when the mop-topped Spaniard secures 10 rebounds or more.

Lakers Missing Rookie Game

Sun YueLakers rookie Sun Yue has appeared in only nine games this season, receiving 2.9 minutes of playing time in each appearance. While the Chinese point guard is high on potential, he’s not quite there yet with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

So, when the rookie and sophomore teams were announced on Wednesday – as selected by assistant coaches around the league – there were no cries of horror around Los Angeles … except perhaps from UCLA Bruins fans who saw Kevin Love left off the first-year squad (more on that in a minute).

But for the Lakers, it’s the first time in a few years that no youngster will participate, as Jordan Farmar played in the previous two Rookie Games and Andrew Bynum competed as a sophomore in 2007. Farmar ripped it up with 17 points and 11 assists in a 136-109 S’mores win last year in a competition that began in 2000 and has resulted in a 7-2 old guys edge.

Here are this season’s nine-man squads:

2008-09 NBA Rookie Team
Derrick Rose
Brook Lopez
Greg Oden
Russell Westbrook
O.J. Mayo
Eric Gordon
Marc Gasol
Rudy Fernandez
Michael Beasley

2008-09 NBA Sophomore Team
Kevin Durant
Al Horford
Rodney Stuckey
Jeff Green
Luis Scola
Al Thornton
Aaron Brooks
Wilson Chandler
Thaddeus Young

No Love for Kevin?
Clearly, Minnesota’s Love is the best player left off either team. Perhaps the most telling measure of how the rookies are Kevin Lovedoing as a whole comes courtesy of ESPN’s David Thorpe, who updates his “Rookie Rankings” weekly. Thorpe has Love as the second best rookie in the class, behind only Westbrook, and a full seven spots ahead of Gasol.

Not only are Love’s season numbers just as good as Gasol’s and better than Beasley’s, but he’s been tearing it up in January now that he’s getting minutes. Check out his game-by-game numbers this month, which are particularly meaningful since the Wolves are an NBA-best 10-3 in 2009. Perhaps in protest, Love hung up 17 points, 10 boards and four assists in 26 minutes against Detroit after being snubbed.

Now that the Love-fest is over … The rest of the rosters are fine, and even though the rookies have more overall talent than the sophomores (by far), it’s tough to picture Durant, Horford and Stuckey letting their team lose.

We’ll be there in Phoenix in person to let you know how it goes.

Lakers All-Star Picks … Plus Some Money

Deron Williams or Brandon Roy? Hedo Turkoglu or Andre Iguodala? Shaquille O’Neal or Al Jefferson? Hmmm…

Having completed my personal All-Star selections after the starters were revealed on Thursday night, I needed some outside expertise to make sure I hadn’t followed the wrong path.

So I called Money.

That’s Matt “Money” Smith (you know him well, you know his smell), the co-host of the now nationally broadcasted “Petros and Money Show” (PMS) that hits the airwaves locally on AM 570 KLAC between 4-7:00 p.m. Now, I first became a fan of Money’s NBA take while listening to him on “The Lakers Zone,” (where he handles pregame, halftime and postgame duties around the call of Spero Dedes and Mychal Thompson), and thus trusted he’d check and balance my roster.

As it turned out, we disagreed on just three of the reserves, settling in agreement on the other 11 players that will join the 10 voted-in starters in Phoenix. Here’s the original list, which includes individual statistics, team records and place in the conference standings plus selected “Honorable Mention” players who had excellent first halfs but didn’t quite make our squad. Below the list, you can check out where Money would have gone another way, and why.

TO CHECK IT OUT, CLICK HERE

Kobe Earns 11th Straight All-Star Start

Kobe BryantThe last time Kobe Bryant didn’t start in an All-Star game, “Friends” was only halfway through its 10-year run, the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series and Tupac Shakur had been dead for a year.

Behind more than 2.8 million votes, Bryant will join Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Yao Ming and Chris Paul as a Western Conference starter in his personal 11th-straight start. The MVP of the All-Star game in 2002 and 2007 was also the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998.

Leading the Eastern Conference will be leading vote getter Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson.

Bryant finished third among all players behind Howard (3.1+ million) and James (2.9+ million).

Jackson to Coach West All-Stars

Phil JacksonThe Lakers 108-97 win over the Clippers on Wednesday night gave the Lakers their 33rd victory of the season. It also cemented Phil Jackson as the head coach of this year’s Western Conference All-Star team.

This will be Jackson’s fourth time coaching an All-Star team.

Here’s the press release:

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson will coach the Western Conference All-Stars for the 2009 NBA All-Star Game, to be played on Sunday, Feb. 15, at US Airways Center in Phoenix.

With the Lakers’ 108-97 win over the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, Jackson and the Lakers (33-8, .805) have at least tied for the best winning percentage in the conference through Feb. 1. In the event that the Spurs and the Lakers have the same winning percentage through Feb. 1, Jackson would earn the spot to coach the West All-Stars since Gregg Popovich has coached an All-Star team most recently (2005). This marks the fourth time Jackson will serve as an All-Star head coach (1992, 1996, 2000).

Head coaches for the East and West All-Star teams are based on teams with the best winning percentage in each conference. Last year’s coaches – Boston’s Doc Rivers and New Orleans’ Byron Scott – are not eligible to coach in the 2009 All-Star Game.

Continue reading ‘Jackson to Coach West All-Stars’

All-Star Breakdown: Western Forwards

Don’t look now, but All-Star weekend is steadily creeping…

In fact, on January 22nd, the NBA will announce the 2008-09 All-Stars on TNT’s broadcast of a double header (in which the Lakers play the Wizards in the second game), meaning you’re almost out of voting time.

The pertinent question around Los Angeles isn’t whether or not Kobe Bryant will be there (that’s like wondering if Jack Bauer’s going to survive a gunshot wound), particularly not when he’s again leading all Western Conference players in votes (1.9 million).

Instead, it’s if Pau Gasol’s going to be voted in by the coaches, since Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are a few hundred thousand votes ahead of Pau for the two starting slots.

With that question in mind, we’re going to: Compare Pau’s stats with those of other leading forwards; try to figure out his value to his squad in comparison to other All-Star candidates; and offer up a list of what we think the actual ranking of forwards should be.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Fourth All-Star Returns

Pau Gasol
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Kobe Bryant continues to lead all Western Conference players in the fourth All-Star Balloting returns.

Teammate Pau Gasol remains sixth among forwards, trailing Tim Duncan, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Ron Artest and Dirk Nowitzki. Click here to make a final push for Pau. VOTE NOW!!!

Click below the jump to see the full returns.

Continue reading ‘Fourth All-Star Returns’

Third Returns, Similar Results

Kobe BryantKobe Bryant continues to lead all Western Conference players in the latest balloting returns for the 2009 NBA All-Star game. Rockets center Yao Ming holds onto the second place spot, but trails Bryant by more than a hundred-thousand votes. Currently joining them in the starting lineup are Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tracy McGrady.

Bryant’s Lakers teammates Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum rank fifth and third respectively at their positions. With just a couple weeks of voting left, their hopes of starting appear slim. All-Star starters will be announced on January 22nd, prior to that evenings TNT double header featuring the Lakers vs. Wizards on the back end. The rest of the squad is the reserves are slected by a vote among the head coaches of each squad’s particular conference.

According to Wikipedia:

The coaches who currently lead the team with the most wins in their conference through the Sunday two weeks before the game coach their respective conferences.

The Lakers currently hold a five-game lead in the Western Conference so there is a good chance that our very own Phil Jackson could be manning the sidelines for the West.

Full results below the jump.

Continue reading ‘Third Returns, Similar Results’

Kobe Still Leading West

Kobe
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The second All-Star ballot returns are in and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant still leads the Western Conference in overall votes. Bryant’s 1,280,912 votes bested Houston big man Yao Ming, who is second with 1,114,709 votes.

The current starting five is rounded out by Tim Duncan and Amar’e Stoudemire at Forward, with Tracy McGrady joing Kobe in the backcourt.

Even though his play remains stellar, forward Pau Gasol was surpassed by Houston’s Ron Artest and now sits in fifth place among Western Conference forwards.

Click below to see the full standings:
Continue reading ‘Kobe Still Leading West’

Kobe Leads West On First All-Star Ballot

Kobe Bryant
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The NBA’s 58th All-Star Game is all set to be played in Phoenix on Sunday, Feb. 15. All it needs is some players.

One will surely be Kobe Bryant, who after the first ballot returns leads all Western Conference players with 719,252 votes, followed by Yao Ming’s 529,290. That’s not close. Chris Paul follows Bryant at the guard position with 406,220 votes, while Tim Duncan (442,203) and Amar’e Stoudemire (370,470) lead Western Conference forwards. Pau Gasol ranks fifth among forwards with 260,374 votes. At center, Shaquille O’Neal (227,273) trails Yao, and is followed by Mehmet Okur (162,139) and then Andrew Bynum (155,689).

Let’s take a look at the whole ballot, and then summarize the positioning of each Lakers player:

2009 Western Conference All-Star Balloting – No. 1
Forwards: Tim Duncan (SA) 442,203; Amar’e Stoudemire (Pho) 370,470; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 327,233; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 261,952; Pau Gasol (LAL) 260,374; Ron Artest (Hou) 214,063; Bruce Bowen (SA) 121,739; Shane Battier (Hou) 115,981; Josh Howard (Dal) 113,456; Luis Scola (Hou) 82,344; Lamar Odom (LAL) 78,422.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 719,252; Chris Paul (NO) 406,220; Tracy McGrady (332,222); Manu Ginobili (SA) 166,981; Jason Kidd (Dal) 162,286; Tony Parker (SA) 161,638; Steve Nash (Pho) 142,410; Jason Terry (Dal) 105,345; Chauncey Billups (Den) 87,172; Brandon Roy (Por) 78,071; Rafer Alston (Hou) 73,613.

Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 529,290; Shaquille O’Neal (Pho) 227,273; Mehmet Okur (Utah) 162,139; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 155,689; Greg Oden (Por) 71,366; Andris Biedrins (GS) 65,496; Al Jefferson (Minn) 46,242; Tyson Chandler (NO) 39,467; Marcus Camby (LAC) 25,824; Chris Kaman (LAC) 9,104; Brad Miller (Sac) 6,892.

Kobe Bryant
Kobe’s huge lead in the Western Conference should only grow as the season goes on. If Kobe isn’t voted in as a starter for the 11th time in his career (every year but his rookie season and there was no game in 1999), then “The Office” is a terrible show that’s never funny and has bad actors. We don’t even need to bother discussing this.

Pau Gasol
Pau’s case is a bit more interesting. First of all, I’ll argue that he should be an All-Star. He’s very clearly been the second-best player on an 18-3 team, and has the numbers to back it up: 18.0 points (20th in the West); 9.2 rebounds (7th); 3.4 assists; 0.95 blocks; and, perhaps most impressively, 57.1 field goal shooting, which ranks fourth in the league behind three players that score mostly on dunks and layups (Nene, Shaq and Emeka Okafor). While Pau is unlikely to be voted in as a starter ahead of Duncan, Amare, ‘Melo or Dirk, one would think that the NBA’s coaches value and respect Gasol’s game enough to put him on the squad. Even if the just mentioned four players all get into the game, it’s hard to think that the coaches would rather have Artest, Bowen, Battier, Howard or Scola, who trail Gasol in votes. A few other players not yet cracking the vote minimum are Carlos Boozer (who’s been hurt); David West, who was an All-Star last season; Zach Randolph, who – no matter what you say about him – is averaging 20 and 11; LaMarcus Aldridge; and Al Jefferson, who’s actually listed as a center but is averaging 21 and 10 and could get in as a forward/center if Minnesota wins a few more games. Yet and still, do you think any of those players are more deserving than Pau? Me either.

Andrew Bynum
Unless Sun Yue makes a few calls to China on Bynum’s behalf, it’ll be quite difficult to jump Yao as the West’s starter at center. But there’s a good argument for Bynum being the West’s No. 2 center, particularly when we consider that his numbers should keep improving all the way up to the All-Star Game. Right now, he’s averaging 13.3 points, 8.9 boards (8th in the West), 1.95 blocks (7th in the NBA) and is shooting 56 percent from the floor (9th in the NBA). Andris Biedrins is putting up impressive numbers (15.2 points, 12.4 rebounds) but is on a bad team, just like Al Jefferson. Were Bynum the focal point of a team’s offense (like Al) or its only big man (like Biedrins), his numbers would probably rise to their level. As for the other two besides Yao ahead of ‘Drew, Shaq’s 15.4 and 8.4 are fine, but he doesn’t play the second side of back-to-backs. Okur’s numbers are right there with Shaq at 15.2 and 7.8, but the Turk is really more of a perimeter-oriented player on offense and doesn’t protect the rim on defense. Marcus Camby’s playing well, but Chris Kaman, Brad Miller, Tyson Chandler and Greg Oden shouldn’t threaten Bynum too much – it’ll be more about if Drew’s production continues to progress as it has in the last few weeks. If so, the kid’s first All-Star berth could be his reward.

Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher
While Odom’s currently the 11th player in terms of votes on the All-Star ballot, and certainly has All-Star caliber skills, he probably isn’t getting enough playing time on L.A.’s talent-laden squad to make as good of a case as other players. So with Lamar, let’s monitor his play (and minutes) heading into the next round of votes.

Fisher is the fifth Lakers player on the ballot, but with point guards like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Baron Davis and now Chauncey Billups out West … Well let’s just say it’ll be tough.

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