Fantasy Drafting the 2011 NBA All-Star Game
They called it a fantasy draft. It was as entertaining an event as the NHL has had in years.
Taking a page out of Gary Bettman's book, Victor Marticorena and I decided to fantasy draft this year's NBA All-Star game, just to see how it would play out. After all, what league has more fragile egos than the NBA? Which athletes would be more upset about getting picked last, or getting drafted after a rival?
The NBA is prime for something like this. The chip on the shoulder effect alone would be worth giving it a try.
Can you imagine if Kobe got picked before LeBron? Or vice versa?
They'd go after one another like groupies on Flavor of Love. It'd be fantastic.
So how would a fantasy draft play out this season?
Vic and I make our picks below.
On the line are pride and bragging rights. Maybe a six-pack if he's up for the challenge. Winner will be determined after the game by adding up points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
Here we go...
Victor: My first pick is LeBron James.
His numbers don't lie. As far as small forwards go, LeBron's second in scoring, second in rebounds, first in assists, third in steals, sixth in field goal percentage, and first in double-doubles.
Add to this equation his size (6-foot-8, 250 pounds), his quickness, his athleticism and his unselfishness and you've got one of the most dominant players in the league. And did I mention he's versatile when it comes to playing different positions? You can throw him in at point guard with a bigger lineup and he will handle and distribute the ball with ease.
The combination of all of his skills and attributes make King James my No. 1 pick.
Patrick: LeBron. Cool. That's an easy pick. Mine's Blake Griffin.
How could I not pick Blake? He's stronger, tougher and more athletic than anyone in the league not named LeBron or Dwight Howard, and he's playing in front of the hometown fans tonight. You don't think he's going to put on a world class show? Please. He's going to forearm shiver the shot clock, shatter the backboard and kiss the sky. All before Donald Sterling's fake-baked ass reaches his seat.
Mark my words, it's going to be a performance to remember. And it's going to be for Team Crawley.
Sure he might be having a "down" year compared to his last couple of years, but the man makes buckets. In fact, Kobe leads the league in scoring per 48 minutes. And knowing Kobe, he is going to want to put on a show, especially since he missed last year's All-Star Game and he is on HIS home court. Make no mistake, the Black Mamba will strike.
Patrick: Kobe? Please. Why don't you pick Tim Duncan third so you have the market cornered on past their prime superstars? Then again, I don't see Timmy D in Nike commercials with Kanye West, so...good Hollywood pick.
Speaking of Hollywood, Derrick Rose is a terrible actor, but he's the best point guard in the league right now. Chris Paul gets my nod if he's healthy. But he hasn't been right all season, so I'm going with Chicago's Finest to lob oops to Blake and finish ridiculous whirly-bird layups. You can have Kobe, I'm taking the league MVP (at midseason anyway).
Victor: Solid pick there, but I'll be saving my PG pick for later. Instead I'm picking from the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm going with the Beast from the Regular East, Dwight Howard.
Nobody can claim there is a more dominant center in the game than Howard. He is averaging about two blocks per game to go along with 22.5 points and just about 14 rebounds a game. He leads all centers in the NBA in points, rebounds, steals, and double doubles, and he is top 4 in field goal percentage and blocks.
After Dwight, there really is no other center in the game that is as dominant on both sides of the ball. He is Superman Version 2.0.
Patrick: There are lots of point guards in this All-Star mix. But only one MVP candidate. That's all I'll say on that front.
You've got Dwight. That's a very good pick. But I'm going to throw a little more offense in the mix to counter your defense. Dwyane Wade! Bring your terrible commercial-making butt on down! You're on Team Crawley!
I know Miami is sad I broke up the new Big Three, but hey, a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. And I need Dwyane running next to D-Rose, terrorizing the basket, making Dwight work for his McDonald's dollars. Or is that T-Mobile dollars? Who cares? Wade's coming for it all. If he's not hungover that is.
Victor: You wanna talk offense? OK, let's talk offense. Let's talk 29 points a game. Let's talk the future of the NBA. Let's talk Kevin Durant. Once again, KD is leading the NBA in scoring and will probably be doing so for a long time coming. The kid is the youngest scoring champ in the history of the NBA and is on his way to his second title in as many years. It seems that nobody at his position is as prolific a scorer from day to day in the NBA today as Durant, and he has so much potential to grow even more as a player. This kid is just getting started.
So yes, in case you haven't guessed it yet, I'm picking Kevin Durant. And so far it seems I have a monster team, just by name alone: King James, the Black Mamba, Superman and the Durantula.
Who do you have? a kid who nobody can seem to give a name that sticks, D-Rose, and D-Wade (very creative for the last two). I'm feeling pretty good already.
Patrick: Nicknames. Schmicknames. My players let their talent speak for itself.
I'll never bad mouth Kevin Durant. That's my guy right there. But dude scored 15 points in the All-Star game last year. Not that great. Carmelo Anthony on the other hand... he led the West with 27 points. That's production right there, my friend.
Melo's going to be hounded all week by the press. Where are you going? What's your preferred team? Will we see you in purp and yellow? And, yeah, that's going to have an effect. But not the effect you might think. The court is going to be his sanctuary on Sunday. He's going to go off. And it's going to be awesome.
Be afraid, Vic. Be very afraid.
Victor: That's a good pick up right there. I actually would have gone with him next had you made a different move, but you didn't, leaving my next overall pick. You mentioned the Melo-drama and how he may potentially go to New York and form a dynamic duo with Amar'e Stoudemire. Well you know how there is another famous dynamic duo from Gotham City in Batman and Robin? You just picked Robin my friend, and I am picking Batman.
Stoudemire is the second-leading scorer in the league, behind Durant (on my team) and just in front of LeBron (also on my team), and he's also shooting over 50 percent from the field. Many, including myself, thought that Stoudemire was a product of Steve Nash's beautiful assists, but it turns out Stoudemire's a leader in his own right. He's turned the Knicks into a playoff team once again. He can create his own shot, and his defense has improved since joining the Knicks.
So what is it with you and picking sidekicks and understudies?
Patrick: Blake Griffin, sidekick? Derrick Rose, sidekick? No way, my friend. Those guys are pure alpha dogs.
You know who else is an alpha dog? Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket. Leader of the Big Three. He's long in the tooth, but his bite is still as strong as his bark. And damn does that guy like to bark.
KG isn't going to offer the rim-rattling dunks of Blake Griffin or your guy Amar'e, but he is going to bring the same competitive fire he brings night in and night out. You know those guys you say you want on your team but don't want to face? Well, Google that bad boy and you'll find a photo of Garnett's snarling face. This guy is for real, no matter the venue. He's going to anchor my front line along with Blake. You afraid yet?
Victor: Wow! Am I afraid? KG? C'mon son! You should at least try here. Are you trying to win one game or a championship here?
KG may be a good glue guy who is amazing with help-side defense, but this is the All-Star game son. You are going to need some offense (of which KG provides 15 points per game). Nobody cares about all-around defense in the All-Star Game. It's all about scoring homie! Who plays tough defense in this game? Not even KG plays tough defense if he knows he's going to get scored on.
As far as positions go, I think I need a point guard finally -- even though I really don't need one with LeBron James on my team. I do think I will pick one though.
Yes, Chris Paul is still available, but I don't think I will chose him. Instead, I think I'm going to go with another member of the OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook. The kid is just defying everyone's beliefs about him.
Durant is scoring more points, but Westbrook is the MVP of that team this year. When Durant was out with an injury, Westbrook carried them. He's also tied for the most triple doubles in the league with James at three. As far as being one of the most explosive point guards in the league, nobody can really test Westbrook in speed, athleticism and scoring -- or defense for that matter.
Westbrook is one of the best all-around point guards in the game and in my opinion is up for MVP of the league for keeping his team in check while Durant sat out for a couple of games.
Your move, Mr. Crawley.
Patrick: Skipping over Rajon Rondo for Russell Westbrook? That's a bad move. Rondo already has a chip on those oversized shoulders of his. Especially after what happened with the national team this summer.
Rondo thinks he's the best point guard in the league. Whether he's right or not is an argument for another time. But he's constantly out to prove his case and the All-Star game is a perfect venue for it. Not only will Rondo get to the basket for a bunch of twisting, impossible-looking layups, he'll also set up his teammates all night long.
With KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on his team, he knows how to feed the hot hand, which is crucial in the All-Star Game. While Westbrook is busy jacking up shots, Rondo will be throwing killer lobs to my guy Blake Griffin.
Watch out below.
Victor: Are you kidding me? I know he's good, but Rajon Rondo would not be the player who he is without the rest of the Celtics, including KG which is sad to say.
I know I said that point guards are easy to come by in this game, but there is no way I can pass up Chris Paul. I know he may have some injury troubles, but there is no way you can say that the Hornets are playoff contenders without him. Paul is the reason they are as good as they are, and although he is not having the best year stats wise, Paul is most definitely the MVP of his team.
So yes, I went back to back picks with a PG. What's your next move Patrick?
Patrick: Not just back-to-back point guards. Back-to-back Western Conference point guards. Way to handcuff, Vic.
I'm gonna do you one better though. I think the coaches are gonna go light on Kobe. Don't want to injure the guy who hasn't played in the All-Star Game in forever. Don't want to kill the West Coast cash cow. Right, David Stern?
Less minutes for Kobe means a feast for Manu Gonobili, the only other 2-guard on the West. You'll scofff and that's cool. Manu can go off at any time and I'm banking on a big game from him Sunday.
Victor: Sounds like a smart move if David Stern were coaching the game, but he's not. Gregg Popovich is, which means he's going to try and play his guys as little as possible and rest them, and have Kobe play as many minutes as possible to tire him out. But thats beside the point.
I feel pretty comfortable with my scoring right now, so I think I'm gonna go with a big man who is gonna get down and dirty on the boards. Kevin Love is going vacuum up everything in his vicinity. I'm not saying that there are going to be very many offensive rebounds available for him to get, but in the off chance that my boys miss their shots, Love will be my insurance policy. And you can take that to the bank.
Patrick: Kevin Love. That's your first good pick in a long time, Vic. Maybe I have some competiton after all.
I'll miss Love's rebounding, but I'm confident in my next pick: Deron Williams.
Some call him a coach killer. Others just recognize him for what he is: a great freaking point guard. I'm in the "others" category. You have to be something special to edge Steve Nash out of an All-Star game. Know what I mean?
Also, you no longer have a monopoly on Western Conference point guards. If D-Will goes off while Chris Paul rests, you know I'm gonna get the upper hand in assists. You can officially wave goodbye to that W you've been chasing.
Victor: Ok. You go on and think you have this game won. In the meantime, I'll keep building my ultimate team and pick another MVP candidate; Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk has consistently been one of the top scorers in the game and there is no sign of him not performing up to our expectations. Before he got hurt, he was performing on another level, leading the Mavericks to an amazing start. After recovering from his injury, he led his team to a double-digit winning streak.
The man is a German scoring machine, and there is no way I can pass him up for any longer than this.
Patrick: Dirk is nice but not All-Star game nice. He's regular season nice. The guy hardly ever shows up big in the All-Star Game. He's the ultimate trap pick.
My guy's going to be Ray Allen and I'll tell you why. Three-point shooting is the least valued commodity in an exhibition like this, but it's always necessary and there's always somebody who comes up big from downtown. This year it's going to be Ray.
He got showed up in the 3-point shootout so he obviously has something to prove. I'm expecting at least 9 points from him, which isn't bad considering the round we're in.
Victor: If your reasoning for picking Ray is that he is upset he lost the 3-point contest, then I might as well pick James Jones because he actually won it. But I'm not.
Instead, I'm going with one of my favorite players who was snubbed this year. I'm going to go with Steve Nash. Nash is hands down still one of the best PGs in the game (second in assists to Rondo) and his numbers are just as good as any other year. The man can get anywhere he wants on the court, and I don't really have to worry too much about defense in the All-Star Game. Nash is a great backup in this game who could bring instant offense for me.
Patrick: Dude. Fatal flaw. Steve Nash isn't on the All-Star roster (which is fine), but now you're one man down when it comes to tallying stats in our All-Star wager. Look out! Team Crawley on the rise!
I'll let you pick again because I don't want to win on a technicality, but not before getting my own pick in, which is, sadly enough, Pau Gasol. As much as I dislike the Lakers, they are still one of the hometown teams. Gasol may not bring much to the table, but he's not as much of a sacred cow as Kobe and he'll probably play more minutes. Hopefully he produces something for me. I'm not holding my breath, though.
Victor: Ok. My fault. But it's all good. You could have hurt me really bad with that last pick and instead you went with Pau? You do realize who is coaching the East, and who is playing in the East right? You could have had all the Celtics, but nope -- you failed.
Apparently you can't handle the truth, and the truth is that I can't stand the Truth. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to pick him for my squad. Paul Pierce is probably the best scorer of the four Celtics, and you left him off your team? There is no way I am going to let you snatch him up now.
I was giving you a chance, but it's too late now. I don't know how he does it, but Pierce manages to score, and I have a feeling he will score big for Team Marticorena.
Patrick: [Editor's note: I screwed up. Should have picked Duncan here but I thought he'd already been picked. Oh well. What're you gonna do?] I went with my gut. I don't think Paul Pierce is going to show out. His style isn't as condusive to the All-Star Game as some of the other young pups.
On principle alone I'm taking Al Horford over Joe Johnson here. JJ's had a good season, but that contract of his and his performance in the playoffs last year...I just can't stomach the thought of him on my team. Horford's mine, bad back and all.
Welcome to the Mr. Irrelevant club, Joe!
Victor: You jumped the gun. You do know Timmy D's still on the board, right? I take him.
Patrick: Dammit! That's cool. I'll take Chris Bosh. Looks like you wind up with Joe Johnson for the Steve Nash screw up. Sorry, my friend.
Here are how the final rosters break down:
1. LeBron James
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Dwight Howard
4. Kevin Durant
5. Amar'e Stoudemire
6. Russell Westbrook
7. Chris Paul
8. Kevin Love
9. Dirk Nowitzki
10. Steve Nash (Paul Pierce)
11. Tim Duncan
12. Joe Johnson
1. Blake Griffin
2. Derrick Rose
3. Dwyane Wade
4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Kevin Garnett
6. Rajon Rondo
7. Manu Ginobili
8. Deron Williams
9. Ray Allen
10. Pau Gasol
11. Al Horford
12. Chris Bosh
Enjoy the game everybody!
To reach Victor Marticorena, click here. Follow him on Twitter @GrandpapaSports.