The All-Star reserves for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at New Orleans Arena will be chosen by the Association's head coaches on Thursday, Jan. 30. It serves as a fresh contrast to the fan vote that decided the starting five for each side.
Although the fans did a good job of ensuring that many of the game's elite players cracked the starting lineups, one criticism has been the elimination of the center position. That's led Miami Heat forward LeBron James to be pressed into duties at the 5, while Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love will occupy the center slot for the West, per BasketballInsiders.com's Alex Kennedy.
The biggest men in the NBA should get some more love from the head coaches, as will some other perimeter players who are deserving of All-Star bids to help combat the smaller starting fives the fans chose.
Five additional players—three in the frontcourt and two in the backcourt—will be selected by the East and the West, and each conference will have two additional picks for any position to fill out the 12-player teams.
Here is a look at the TV schedule for the upcoming broadcast and predictions as to who will fill out the remaining roster slots.
Note: Information on All-Star selection format is courtesy of NBA.com.
TV Schedule Information
When: Thursday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith
|Predictions for Eastern Conference Reserves|
|Backcourt||John Wall||Washington Wizards|
|Backcourt||Kyle Lowry||Toronto Raptors|
|Backcourt||Lance Stephenson||Indiana Pacers|
|Frontcourt||Joakim Noah||Chicago Bulls|
|Frontcourt||Chris Bosh||Miami Heat|
|Frontcourt||Roy Hibbert||Indiana Pacers|
|Frontcourt||Al Jefferson||Charlotte Bobcats|
|2014 NBA All-Star Game|
With how dinged up Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade has been all season, it isn't likely he'll see all that many minutes in the All-Star Game. That leaves the need for a strong defensive 2-guard with length and scoring ability, which gives Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers a deserving first nod.
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall could have very well started over Cleveland Cavaliers youngster Kyrie Irving. If this game's tempo picks up—and it should be a high-scoring affair—look for Wall to put on a dazzling show.
Without being asked, renowned former point guard and current Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said Wall should be included, per the Washington Post's Michael Lee:
Help will be needed in the frontcourt, so that comes in the form of Stephenson's teammate Roy Hibbert, an excellent blocker with an improving offensive skill set, and scrappy Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.
Leaving off the third member of the Heat's power trio seems wrong, especially since Chris Bosh can play the 2 or the 3 depending on which lineups the East decides to go with.
The two wild-card spots are all that remain. Those should be filled by Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson and Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry.
Jefferson is one of the rare, pure low-post scorers remaining in the game, while Lowry deserves to represent Toronto after enduring trade speculation and helping drive the Raptors on a surprising run into the playoff picture.
|Predictions for Western Conference Reserves|
|Backcourt||Chris Paul||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Backcourt||James Harden||Houston Rockets|
|Backcourt||Tony Parker||San Antonio Spurs|
|Backcourt||Damian Lillard||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Frontcourt||Anthony Davis||New Orleans Pelicans|
|Frontcourt||LaMarcus Aldridge||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Frontcourt||Dwight Howard||Houston Rockets|
|2014 NBA All-Star Game|
While the squad has a capable big in Love to facilitate continual ball movement, this team could use more distributors and ball-handlers. Kobe Bryant wouldn't have helped that cause much as it is, but he's made it clear he won't play.
More West floor generals would be the best way to combat some of the East's strengths, but it really does come down to how the coaches vote.
Assuming he's healthy enough to go, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul has to be a lock. He began his career in New Orleans and is considered by many to be the best at his position when he's 100 percent.
Paul at least deserves the opportunity to compete if he's fit enough to do so. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers provided an update of sorts on the status of Paul's separated right shoulder in a Jan. 27 report by Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
No one said there were any changes or a deadline or anything. But he feels great. I still think it's All-Star break, in that area. I don't think that changed. But he feels good. I know he's shooting a little bit now. The fact that he can run and do the conditioning is great. But other than that, it still has to heal.
The experience and veteran savvy of San Antonio's Tony Parker should land him another All-Star bid, and there aren't many better options at center than Houston's freakish athlete Dwight Howard.
James Harden should join Howard as the second Rocket in the West rotation because of his ability to play both guard positions and his knack for creating breathtaking one-on-one plays.
That leaves the deserving Portland duo of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, who have led the Trail Blazers' surprising surge this season, as worthy candidates to get a crack at taking the hardwood in New Orleans.
Finally, how could Anthony Davis be left off the list?
The Pelicans' cornerstone of now and tomorrow is emerging as one of the most dominant forces in the league at age 20, and it'd be excellent to see what he could do against this top-tier competition.
With the way he's filling the stat sheet these days, opponents will come to "fear the brow" even more in the coming years. This All-Star Game could be his true NBA coming-out party to any nonbelievers or those who haven't seen his amazing array of skills.