Power Rankings for the Week of January 25th: All Star Edition

Hi! I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the overall lack of complaints about Kobe being a starter in this year’s All Star Game.  There will always be some writers/tweeters that speak out when the voters simply vote based on who they want to see rather than voting for the best players, which is ultimately the right of the fans (and of people to complain about, for that matter).

Even as a diehard Lakers fan who wants to see Kobe in Toronto, however, I do think that the point is valid.  We can dismiss this debate under the “it’s just an exhibition” logic which many do, but the truth is it matters more than that, just ask Damian Lillard.  Not only is it a pride issue, now there are financial repercussions attached to it as well.  Making all-star teams can trigger certain bonuses and can make players eligible for different contracts.  Setting aside the fact that it’s absolutely asinine that those clauses exist in the first place, there should be something done to make it so you can honor the game’s exiting greats while not hurting the present-day crop of best players.

My proposed solution is the most simple: a “Legends” spot, one for both conferences.  The Legends would be announced before voting started, thus still rewarding the top 5 eligible vote-getters, and each conference would get the additional Legend spot on their roster, extending the total roster to 16 each.  If there is no clear cut “Legend”, then the Commissioner can choose to honor a very good player that’s contributed a lot to the game or simply leave the slot empty.  There’s imperfection to this idea, no doubt, but some movement here would be welcome.

In the spirit of the All-Star discussion, here’s a few All-Star teams of my own:

The “Why Haven’t I Been Traded Yet?” All-Stars

PG Goran Dragic

SG Kevin Martin

SF Anthony Morrow

PF Kevin Love

C Markieff Morris

Coach: Jeff Hornacek

Goran Dragic: While Goran Dragic may have regressed due to age, there’s simply no way I can imagine that one of the more enjoyable point guards to watch crashed and burned this quickly. Coach Spo and the Heat organization have deserved a lot of credit for how they run their business, but I think their offense has left much to be desired.  Having Goran Dragic off the ball often without the freedom to create is a clear misuse of him and I’m surprised no other GM has tried to take him, and I’m sure Miami won’t mind it either, except they traded Mario Chalmers away, who’s played well in Memphis.

Kevin Martin/Anthony Morrow:  While Anthony Morrow and Kevin Martin’s teams are on the opposite spectrums in terms of where they stand in a chase for a title, I grouped both of these together for a simple reason: they can flat out shoot, and they’re not being used by their respective teams.  While I completely understand saving minutes for Wiggins, Lavine, etc in Minnesota – the consistent lack of minutes for Anthony Morrow is a huge source of frustration for me.  It may be that he is such a poor defensive player that it becomes impossible to play him, but the possibility of a Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook pick and roll with Anthony Morrow parked at the corner gets me too basketball-excited for it not to happen.  If Anthony Morrow isn’t going to be played – there has to be a better home for him, right?

Kevin Love: I could write for days and days about this situation but I’ll keep is short and sweet: Kevin Love and Lebron James are going to be highly paid players who both are at their best playing the same position – power forward.  Kevin Love and Lebron James don’t quite get along, which is fine, but it only exacerbates the tension on the court.  I was honestly shocked that Kevin Love signed the max deal, although I probably shouldn’t have been, and it was because I assumed that both sides would just take their losses and move on.  The Cavs smartly keep their asset, Kevin Love is secured financially, so that’s not the issue.  The issue now is that Kevin Love is in his prime, is still a very good basketball player, and there are too many teams hoping to strike it big this summer when there’s really not a huge crop of free agents waiting for them.  Instead of engaging in bidding wars for good-to-very-good players, why not just swing for the fences with Kevin Love, a true star player (I hope).

Markieff Morris/Jeff Hornacek: Another grouped one, hoping you didn’t notice I cheated by slotting Morris in at Center.  This whole situation has been a mess, that I covered here and I don’t blame Markieff for being upset, nor do I blame Hornacek for the absurd collapse of what was once a promising young team with a solid core.  While I applaud the Suns for trying to keep Hornacek in the spirit of continuity, it really does feel like the actions of the front office have lost the trust of the locker room and wholesale changes may be necessary.

The “Lakers Should’ve Just Kept Me” All Stars

PG D’Angelo Russell’s innocence

SG Kent Bazemore

SF Jodie Meeks

PF Julius Randle’s Soul

C Ed Davis

Coach: Mike D’Antoni

I’ll be posting some audio later this week about how I feel about where the Lakers are positioned in their “don’t call it a rebuild” rebuild, but suffice to say there’s always things to nitpick on.  The only major flaw in the current Lakers situation at head coach with Byron Scott (and his staff) absolutely doing nothing to build up the confidence of the future in D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.  How amazing would it have been to have Mike D’Antoni coaching this current roster? Moving forward, the decision as to who will be the next head coach will be the single most important factor in determining how the Lakers next 5 years looks.  In terms of personnel, Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have done really well all things considered and they continue to impress with late draft picks.  Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson are a great validation to the behind the scenes scouting and work that they do.

In terms of players the Lakers should’ve simply just kept, Kent Bazemore is the one that brings me the most pain.  He was such a great source of energy for the Lakers, he started hitting 3’s when he came here, and he was just a great competitor.  Given that it was clear the direction the franchise was going, letting him go to sign Nick Young to a deal was simply a mistake that I’m sure Mitch Kupchak would love to have back.  At the same time, I’m really happy that Bazemore has found home in Atlanta.  Similarly, I always found Jodie Meeks to have a much more well-rounded game than Nick Young and would gladly have paid him his 3/$19 rather than Swaggy’s 4/$21.  It’s not that Nick Young is awful, it’s just that he’s at his best as an off the bench “final piece” type scorer for a good team (I really believe that!). Nick has the irrational confidence required to hit big shots in big moments, and the Lakers haven’t had very many of those in his tenure.

Lastly, I was sad to see Ed Davis go, and that too at a very low price, to the Portland Trailblazers.  While I understand that Brandon Bass was seen as a better locker room influence for the young guys, letting a guy like Ed Davis loose with D’Angelo Russell in pick and rolls would’ve been a welcome improvement over the pick and roll partners DLo has had.

In regards to the coach – Byron Scott makes me so angry I lose the ability to talk when thinking about it.  So yeah, the Lakers should’ve kept the last guy.  That’s all that I want to say about this right now.

The “The Best Starting 5 If We Were Playing A Real Game Against Aliens To Save Our Planet” All Stars

PG Steph Curry

SG Jimmy Butler

SF Kawhi Leonard

PF Anthony Davis

C Draymond Green

Coach: Gregg Popovich

Here’s my case for keeping Kevin Durant AND Lebron off this list: I’d like to have as much ball movement as possible and all of these players are capable of playing off-the-ball really well.  While Lebron is still probably on his best day the best player in the league, he’s never really shown enough off-ball to my liking, and I know those prickly aliens would have some mind games ready to send his brain back to the 2011 Finals.  Regarding KD, I’m just better defensively with this crew and while more shooting is probably needed on this team, Anthony Davis and Draymond Green can space the floor pretty damn well.  I thought about picking Klay Thompson over Jimmy Butler just to have 3 players from the same team which would maximize chemistry, but then I thought again about how smart aliens must be and I didn’t want to make scouting any easier for them, so Jimmy Butler got the nod.

In case you were wondering, and why wouldn’t you be, yes I will be writing the Space Jam Independence Day mashup movie script.

Power Rankings

  1. Warriors (40-4) [LW:2]
  2. Spurs (38-6) [LW:1]
  3. Thunder (33-13) [LW:4]
  4. Cavaliers (30-12) [LW:3]
  5. Raptors (29-15) [LW:5]
  6. Clippers (28-16) [LW:6]
  7. Bulls (25-18) [LW:7]
  8. Hawks (26-19) [LW:8]
  9. Grizzlies (25-20) [LW:12]
  10. Pistons (23-21) [LW:10]
  11. Celtics (24-21) [LW:13]
  12. Rockets (24-22) [LW:14]
  13. Mavericks (25-21) [LW:15]
  14. Heat (23-21) [LW:9]
  15. Pacers (23-21) [LW:11]
  16. Kings (20-23) [LW:22]
  17. Wizards (20-21) [LW:17]
  18. Knicks (22-24) [LW:19]
  19. Jazz (19-24) [LW:18]
  20. Bucks (19-27) [LW:20]
  21. Hornets (21-23) [LW:21]
  22. Magic (20-22) [LW:16]
  23. Nuggets (17-27) [LW:23]
  24. Pelicans (16-27) [LW:26]
  25. Trailblazers (20-26) [LW:24]
  26. Nets (12-33) [LW:28]
  27. Timberwolves (14-31) [LW:25]
  28. 76ers (6-39) [LW:29]
  29. Lakers (9-37) [LW:27]
  30. Suns (14-31) [LW:30]

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