This may come off as a bit reactive due to the shot that Mo Williams drained last night, but it is actually just perfect timing. Last week, the first batch of NBA All-Star results came out, which means we get to see a few things: 1) Who is China voting for (A: Tracy McGrady), and 2) Who looks to be on the outside looking in?
Williams was named to his first All-Star team of his career last season in a year that was his first with the Cavaliers. There are undoubtedly a strong number of guards in the Eastern conference pool, and Mo’s body of work has not declined from last season. But what are the odds that he gets the nod yet again? Let’s take a look at the current standings for guards in the East.
1. Dwyane Wade, MIA
2. Vince Carter, ORL
3. Gilbert Arenas, WAS
4. Ray Allen, BOS
5. Derrick Rose, CHI
6. Allen Iverson, PHI*
7. Joe Johnson, ATL
8. Rajon Rondo, BOS
9. Jose Calderon, TOR
10. Mike Bibby, ATL
Alas, Mo Williams is nowhere to be found.
Last year, then Pistons guard Allen Iverson was voted into the starting five by the fans next to Dwyane Wade. This left few slots for admittedly more-deserving guards to become reserves. This year, his candidacy was slated to be in the Western Conference until his recent contract agreement with the Philadelpha 76ers. Thankfully, he is not among the top two this season.
Williams received a lot of support from fans and teammates last year when it came to the possible All-Star selection, which would be his first ever. He was passed over through the first round, as Orlando’s Jameer Nelson and New Jersey’s Devin Harris were given the nod. This led to Ben Wallace calling the decision a “Shamockery.” When Nelson had to bow out due to injury, David Stern named Boston’s Ray Allen to the squad.
Of course, this led to team owner Dan Gilbert sounding off, taking a play out of Wallace’s book, calling Stern’s decision “stupidiculous, idillogical and preposterageous.”
Finally, it was an injury to forward Chris Bosh that would ultimately give Williams the All-Star nod. This then led to the Boston faithful claiming that Rajon Rondo was robbed of a bid, and was piled on when Williams had a postseason to forget.
But what about this season?
Pre All-Star game last year, Williams averaged 17.6 points (46.8 percent), 4.1 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers made.
Thus far through the 2009-10 season, Williams is averaging 16.9 points (44.2 percent), 4.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 2.4 three-pointers made.
Given this, we can likely agree that Mo is playing just as well (if not better on the defensive end) as he was last season.
Assuming that Wade and Carter get the starting nod, who does he have to compete with for a reserve spot?
We can eliminate Nelson and Harris this season. Nelson is out for a few more weeks with an injury and Harris is just coming back from one. Iverson, like Harris, just started playing and will be omitted from this exercise. The rest of the field? Alphabetically…
Ray Allen: 15.4 ppg (46.0 FG%), 3.0 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.5 3PM
Gilbert Arenas: 20.7 ppg (40.3 FG%), 6.8 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.7 3PM
Mike Bibby: 9.8 ppg (43.6 FG%), 4.0 apg, 2.8 rpg, 0.8 spg, 1.8 3PM
Jose Calderon: 11.7 ppg (51.5FG%), 6.2 apg, 2.2 rpg, 0.7 spg, 1.0 3PM
Joe Johnson: 21 ppg (44.9 FG%), 5.1 apg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.3 3PM
Rajon Rondo: 11.7 ppg (52.8 FG%), 9.5 apg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 spg, 0.1 3PM
Derrick Rose: 16.1 ppg (44.9 FG%), 5.5 apg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 3PM
Another guy who will get some (a lot of?) consideration, though not among the top 10 in voting – as he was left off of the ballot - is Milwaukee’s rookie point guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings is averaging a stellar 21.0 points per game to go with six assists, four rebounds and 2.3 three-point field goals a game. Rookies are rarely apart of the actual All-Star game, but Jennings’ first-half performance is definitely worth the consideration to represent the East in Dallas.
With that said, we can eliminate Bibby from contention. Calderon has been dinged up as of late and isn’t exactly putting up All-Star numbers. Ray Allen is as solid as ever, but it is tough to argue that 15 points per game with little else is worth of a nod. Derrick Rose’s slight decline from last season will likely also knock him out of consideration.
On the flip side, Areanas’ return from knee injuries would provide a feel-good story as well as one of the more popular players to get back into the game that features the best of the best; Johnson continues to be one of the games best scoring options; and Rondo is averaging nearly a double-double per night with excellent defensive numbers.
Figure in Jennings catching the eye of basketball fans all over the world (even though he plays in Milwaukee!!), and Williams will have his work cut out for him.
There is no denying that Mo is one of the best point guards that Cleveland has had for quite some time, but it looks like last year’s numbers simply aren’t getting No. 2 lofted into the upper echelon of guards this season. Who knows – there may be another flurry of injuries and players that simply prefer to take the weekend off. However, as it stands now, it will be pretty surprising if Williams finds himself named among the two or three guards that get selected to be reserves in the 2010 All-Star game.
(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)