Western Conference All-Star Starters: My take on the injustice that is the Western Conference All-Star starters.
Yes, this guy is an All-Star. And, yes, I understand the argument. Kobe Bryant is in all honesty probably the second best shooting guard in NBA history, behind the GOAT himself. The dude has FIVE rings, and even has two without Shaq. He is third in career points scored, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest Lakers of all time, which is quite the achievement seeing as Shaq, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Kurt Rambis were all Lakers. (Just kidding about Kurt Rambis. I just wanted to link this in.) My point is, if anyone respects Kobe and appreciates what he has done for the game, it’s me.
I just think the All-Star Game should be about who is performing well this year, and the Hall of Fame should be what honors their careers. So that being said, here are the Western Conference All-Star Starters according to the fans (starters are voted in by fan voting, alternates are voted in by the coaches), and who I think it should be based on their performances this year.
Fan Voting Starters: Steph Curry (GSW), Russell Westbrook (OKC), Kobe Bryant (LAL), Kawhi Leonard (SA), Kevin Durant (OKC)
My Starters: Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green (GSW)
The fact Draymond Green didn’t make the All-Star starters is a joke. He isn’t just one of the top five players in the West, he is a top five player period. He is the second best player on a team that broke the record for most wins to start a season by a mile, going 24-0 before falling to the Milwaukee Bucks. Some may look at his stats and say, “meh,” but his skill set is like no other in the NBA.
He shows a good chunk of that skill set here. He shows his defensive instinct and hustle by grabbing the deflection made by Steph Curry, his ball-handling by blowing by everyone on the break, and his passing by setting up Klay Thompson perfectly for the open dunk. Oh, and he can shoot, too.
His best skill on defense isn’t really highlighted in the clip above, but what it is he does so well is that he can guard anyone. The reason so many teams have tried and failed to mirror the Warriors strategy of small-ball (not playing with a true center/power forward) is that they don’t have Draymond Green. He can switch onto guards, handle seven footers in the post, and not get destroyed on the boards. His versatility is un-parralelled, perhaps only bested by Lebron James, and is a key cog in what makes the Warriors go.
I don’t have any problems with the other starters. Russell Westbrook is a maniac, Steph Curry is the best shooter of all time, Kawhi Leonard is the 3-D prototype (plays great perimeter defense and can splash threes) and Kevin Durant is a shooting guard in a center’s body, which just straight up is not fair.
I can agree that Kobe can get and do what he wants based on the career he has had, but Draymond has had a season to remember, and deserves the starting spot in my opinion. Until next time.
Collegian NBA Blogger John Scriffiny can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JScriff.