If you're as devoted a basketball fan as I am, All-Star Weekend has lost some of the luster it once had in years past. Every year, we're reminded of how little the players care about it; evident by the number of them that miss the various events--especially the dunk contest. So, in order to satisfy your fix, I'm going to present a series of various All-(Insert Filter Here) Teams for this weekend. The first was my All-Time Loser Team; and now I present to you my All-Role Player Team. The qualifications for this are: 1) you can't be the best player on your team; and 2) He can't have already been in an all-star game. Let's introduce the starting five...
At guard, 6'3" from Spain. Jose....Callllllllderooooonn.
In a season with so many point guards having outstanding seasons; Calderon gets overlooked as a really good point guard, especially since he's in the East. Calderon, quietly, is averaging 8.7 apg; good enough for fifth in the league. He's started only 37 of his 51 games this season, after being point guard 1-a with T.J. Ford. With his decision-making and three-point shooting, and Ford's health questions, Calderon has likely put Toronto in a bind in the off-season about who to keep as their lead floor general.
At the other guard position. 6'6" from Miami. John...Sallllllllmonnnnss.
One could argue that John Salmons is Sacramento's best all-around player. He doesn't do one thing great, but does a lot of things very well. He can shoot, score, pass, rebound, and defend; perfect in my off-guard spot. Salmons is so valuable to the Kings, he makes Mike Bibby that much more expendable; and when Ron-Ron came back from injury, they moved Artest to the power forward spot just so Salmons could keep his place as a starter. He doesn't have to worry about that on this team. Maybe he should become a Knick, but that's probably a bad move...for him...
At forward. 6'8" from Oak Hill Academy. Stephen...Jacksooonnnnnn.
To some people, this should be S-Jack's first all-star appearance. I'm not one of those people, but there's no denying Jackson's impact on the Golden State Warriors. He had to sit out the first seven games this season due to suspension, and the Warriors went 1-6. Since his return, they're 31-14; and Jackson is their second-leading scorer at around 20 points per game. His field goal percentage is suspect at best, but he seems to be the guy that hits big shots when the Warriors need it. He also plays excellent defense; just ask Dirk.
At the other forward. 6'10" from Turkey. Hedo...Turrrgokluuuu.
I don't know what clicked in Hedo's head this year. But with a career high in points, rebounds, and assists, something had to happen. Hedo's played so well, he's been the best non-Boston and Detroit-related story in the Eastern Conference. When he was a standstill shooter with Sacramento, did you think to yourself that one day, you would hear whispers of injustice behind the fact that Hedo wasn't an all-star? He's Orlando's second-best player (yes, Rashard Lewis is now what Hedo used to be in Sac-town); and is their best playmaker off the dribble. And he takes and makes big shots. More Hedo, please.
And at center. 7'1" from Dominguez High School. Tyson...Channndlerrrr.
Since I have a lot of guys that man the perimeter, someone's gotta man the middle and be a defensive presence in the paint; so I choose Tyson Chandler. This is the man His Airness the GM passed on because Kwame Brown beat him in a game of one-on-one. Well, Kwame's...Kwame; and Tyson Chandler has settled into a nice role as alley-oop recipient in New Orleans. Averaging a double-double, and with a gradually-improving offensive game; Chandler may not be an all-star-caliber player, but he is vital to the Hornets' success.
As with my other team(s), I will provide a few reserves for my squad to round out my rotation...
On my bench, I look for players that can play multiple positions on the floor; and since Harrington is listed at the 3,4, and 5 positions (for my fantasy team), I start my bench with him. He has the physical nature to rebound inside, and the skill to exploit the mismatch against bigger or smaller players. I just wish he were more consistent, or he could have a couple all-star nods in his career.
My favorite Knicks player can play either guard position and not be a liablity. He struggles with consistency; but I believe he's a better playmaker than others believe. This role would be perfect for him, because he could be the number one option with the second team; and be able to take over with moves like this...and this. With a little more consistency, he could be more widely respected among the really good guards in the league.
Millsap is the reason why a lot of NBA scouts get fired. How can a man that led the NCAA in rebounding three years in a row be selected 47th overall? He's a beast on both backboards, and has the quickness to handle pick-and-roll situations. Another vital piece to championship success, his work ethic and tenacity is key for handling the physical nature of NBA frontcourt players.
So there's the list. I'm showing love to the guys that may be looked over by the casual fan. Die-hards like me know the value of these players; and appreicate what they bring to the NBA experience.