As of now, Carmelo Anthony is the only New York Knick headed to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. One more teammate should join him, likely sixth man J.R. Smith or center Tyson Chandler, but choosing which is a different story.
This season's All-Star voting system was different than before. Rather than vote for individual positions, fans voted for two backcourt players and three frontcourt ones. As a result, both Chandler and Smith find themselves competing with more players for an All-Star spot than they ever could have anticipated.
Both men are worthy of making the trip to Houston to represent the Eastern Conference, but the sad truth is that only one will make the final roster, if either are selected at all.
To start off, Smith has done an excellent job as the Knicks' sixth man, posting 16.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Also, he has had a knack for making his threes. On the season, Smith has shot 33 percent from downtown.
However, Smith has also been inconsistent. Though he has improved his overall game and learned to create off the dribble when not shooting threes or driving the lane for a dunk, his percentages are still fairly low. He has shot just 41 percent from the field and over his last games, has made just a third of his field goal attempts.
Numbers aside, Smith should garner at least some consideration for an All-Star spot simply because of his being able to come through in the clutch this season. He has won games for the Knicks on the final shot twice already, and his knack for hitting bad shots is a skill that cannot be ignored.
However, what about a dynamic center in Chandler? He has been nothing but excellent since joining the Knicks last season, and was even named the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the league in field goal percentage, sinking 68 percent of his shots.
The man has continued his domination in the paint this season. Not only has Chandler posted 11 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, but he has also averaged a career-best 12.4 points. Once again, he leads the league in field-goal percentage, having shot 67 percent from the floor.
Per usual, he has been a defensive beast for the Knicks. He mans the paint with an iron fist, grabbing rebounds and playing lockdown defense from start to finish. On the offensive side, he has mastered the art of offensive rebounding, averaging 4.5 per game and completing some gorgeous putback slams, thus the high field-goal percentage.
His size at 7'1", 240 pounds is an incredible asset, one that the Knicks treasure dearly.
That all being said, when it comes to deciding which of these two players is more worthy of an All-Star nod, the answer is obvious. Guys like Smith are fun to watch, but they're a dime-a-dozen. Players like Chandler, on the other hand, are special.
Yes, the All-Star Game has always been about selecting players who can put up a ridiculous number of points, but what about those who can be excellent on both sides of the floor. The Eastern Conference center pool is shallow, and Chandler has already accumulated 467,968 votes in his quest to man the frontcourt for the East. The only man ahead of him is Miami's Chris Bosh, with 528,014 votes.
Looking at the voting numbers released, Smith's name does not even factor into the equation. More importantly, sixth men rarely ever make the final roster. James Harden did not earn a selection last year, despite being the best bench player in the league at the time, and the fact that he had a much better season than Smith is having now does not help the Knicks' shooter's case.
The facts are simple. Though both Smith and Chandler are talented in their own right, Chandler's overall skills are more worthy of representing the Eastern Conference. Smith is really just a scorer, and there are plenty of more deserving players with the same skill set who should go to the game, like Ray Allen of the Miami Heat.
Chandler; however, is a rarity. There are not many players like him in the league, and his overall value to the Knicks is undeniable. This man is an All-Star, and the Eastern Conference coaches should take note and add him to the final roster.
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