Same deal as the Eastern Conference All Stars: 4 guards, 6 frontcourt, 2 wildcards, and no legacy acts (sorry Kobe). If you're looking for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, they're HERE!
Stephen Curry (G)
Russell Westbrook (G)
Kawhi Leonard (FC)
Draymond Green (FC)
Kevin Durant (FC)
Chris Paul (G)
James Harden (G)
Dirk Nowitzki (FC)
Demarcus Cousins (FC)
Marc Gasol (FC)
Blake Griffin (WC)
LaMarcus Aldridge (WC)
The starters in the Western Conference are pretty easy to choose. The top 3 teams in the conference are head and shoulders above every other team in the west except maybe the Clippers. After dealing with injuries much of last season, Russell Westbrook is back to his explosive self, yelling emphatically with every dunk:
Durant has also rounded back into form after serious injury trouble, and the duo of him and Westbrook are reminding us why we've been perennially saying, "This could be OKC's year," for the last 5 seasons or so.
Kawhi Leonard is beasting on both ends of the floor, leading the spurs to a historically good year defensively, while showing off a continually improving offensive skillset. His post game is more mature, and he's shooting 48%(!) from 3, while putting up 20 pts, 7 reb, and 3 ast. On top of that, he's starring in some of the best regional grocery store commercials ever to hit the airwaves:
What the Warriors are doing right now is unbelievable. They are currently on pace for the best record in the history of the NBA, and they owe a lot of it to Draymond Green's 2-way flexibility and dogged defense. He gives opposing teams fits on both ends, and was a key to keeping the Warriors hungry for wins in the early season. As much as Golden State's success has to do with Draymond, it has even more to do with Stephen Curry. The MVP has redefined what it means to be a prolific 3-point shooter, and is currently on pace for about 380 3s this season, which would obliterate the record of 286 which belongs to none other than... Steph Curry. Dude can light it up (the following highlights are all from the same quarter):
So, that's the starters taken care of. There are a few other no-brainers here as well. After a slow start, and despite his defense, James Harden is just too good to leave off any all star team. He's putting up 28, 6, and 7, and leading the Rockets as they rebound from their early season slide. Chris Paul is also going ballistic, putting up 18, 3, and 10, and helping the Clippers to a 10-1 record without Blake Griffin.
Those are seven players who are locks to make it. That leaves five more spots open, and the following players to fill them:
Dirk Nowitzki, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, LaMarcus Aldridge, Klay Thompson, Blake Griffin, Demarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Gordon Hayward, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis
After flaming out in the Deandre Jordan sweepstakes, the Dallas Mavericks were predicted to be a sub-.500 team this year, and here they are sitting 24-19 more than halfway into the season. Part of that is due to a very smart pickup in Zaza Pachulia, but the Mavericks still owe much of their success to Dirk Nowitzki. He's averaging 17, 7, and 2 while shooting 40% from downtown. More than that, he puts fear into the hearts of opposing players when it's close down the stretch and he catches the ball in the high post. Dirk Nowitzki is an all star.
4 spots left. Demarcus Cousins has had some dispositional issues. He's also had 22 double-doubles while averaging 26, 11, and 3. He can put the ball on the floor, and has added a reasonably reliable 3-point shot this season (34%). When he can stay out of foul trouble, there is maybe no big man in the league who changes the game more than he does. He requires a double team, unless you're fine with him torching you for 30 and 15. Everyone would like to see the Kings win a few more games, but they're still only half a game out of the playoffs, and what Cousins is doing on the court is special.
Despite some early season panic about blowouts, the Grizzlies have looked pretty solid on their way to a 24-19 record. And a key to the Grizzlies success at both ends is Marc Gasol. Widely regarded as one of the best passing big men in the league, Gasol is relied on to facilitate much of the offense. He's happy to oblige to the tune of 16 pts, 7 reb, and 4 ast. Marc Gasol will be making the trip to Toronto because of games like this:
That leaves only 2 spots.
It's time to have a look at Anthony Davis. In a lot of people's minds, he was the frontrunner for MVP this year, but the Pelicans are sitting 13 games below .500. A lot of that has to do with injuries to other players, but surely AD should be able to singlehandedly carry the Pelicans to more than 14 wins in 40 tries, right? The truth of the matter is that Davis has looked disinterested through a lot of the season. And although he is touted as a great rim protector, the Pelicans ranked 29th in defenseive efficiency this year, and were ranked 22nd last season. Despite all this, Davis is still putting up impressive numbers. 23 pts and 10 reb are nothing to sneeze at. That being said, there is no room on an all star roster for a player on a team whose record is just a shade better than the teams who are trying to tank.
The San Antonio Spurs are good. Like, really good. They are on pace for 70+ wins, and are playing obscenely good defense, giving up just 93.3 pts per 100 possessions. For context, no other team this year is allowing less than 98.8 pts per 100. In any other season, we'd have them written in as locks to win the championship. Not bad for a team who moved some key pieces in the offseason and brought in a new starter. LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't supposed to fit with the Spurs' offense. He wasn't "Spurs-y enough." Like the mastermind he is, Pop has re-tooled the San Antonio offense to fit its personnel, and the result has been great for LaMarcus. He's putting up 16 and 9 in less than 30 minutes, and has helped lead the Spurs to the best point differential in the league. LaMarcus Aldridge is an all star, and if you aren't watching the Spurs, you need to start.
1 spot left. Lillard? Rondo? Klay? Hayward? It's undeniable that they are putting up very solid numbers. But the final all star spot has got to go to Blake Griffin. Blake has missed some games lately, but he's played 30, which should be enough to give you an idea of how a player is performing. And in Blake's case, the performance has been amazing. 23 pts, 9 reb, 5 ast, shooting 50%. More than that, his ability to drive is a game changer on offense, and Blake's early-career free throw woes are long gone. Assuming he's healthy by the all star game, it will be great to see some of this in Toronto:
Western Conference snubs: Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward