2013 NBA No-Star Team: Western Conference
This fictional game will be played in Toronto, a city that has never hosted an All-Star game, and will be played during the Super Bowl to ensure that no one will watch it, mistakenly or otherwise.
The rosters do not necessarily reflect the absolute worst players in the league. The starters for each conference were chosen based on their unspectacular, underachieving or simply terrible play throughout the first half of the season, while the reserves from each team are more like "injured reserves" -- players who have had forgettable seasons due to their injuries.
SF Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns: Beasley, the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, flamed out of Miami and Minnesota before landing in Phoenix this season. The post-Nash Suns needed Beasley to score and be a star. Instead, Beasley is averaging career-lows in points (9.6) and rebounds (3.7) while shooting a career-worst field-goal percentage (38 percent). He's lost his starting job to P.J. Tucker while the Suns are having their worst season in 25 years.
PF Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: Someone from the most underachieving team in the NBA was going to be on the No-Star team, and fair or not, Gasol gets the starting nod. Gasol is having the worst year of his career, shooting a career-low 44 percent while averaging a career-low 12.8 points per game. He is shooting more threes than ever (7 for 25, 28 percent), which is all you need to know about his struggles in the Lakers' offensive scheme, and he has struggled playing next to Dwight Howard, which resulted in him losing his starting job to Earl Clark.
C Chris Kaman, Dallas Mavericks: I really wanted to avoid putting starters on playoff teams on the No-Star team, just like one reluctantly puts All-Stars on losing teams in the All-Star game. Of players who have already played 1,000 minutes this season, Oklahoma City Thunder C Kendrick Perkins has the second-worst PER (8.1) in the NBA. But he is also a mainstay on the best team in the conference. Meanwhile, Kaman's awful defense, especially next to Dirk Nowitzki, has prompted the Mavericks to start Elton Brand over him. The Mavericks are having their worst season since 2000, and though Kaman is having a decent first year with the team, his poor defense and rebounding is reflective of a player who has been a part of only one playoff team.
SG Austin Rivers, New Orleans Hornets: In addition to players on winning teams, I wanted to avoid first and second-year players. But Rivers, the 10th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, has been so bad that it can't be ignored. His PER (5.2) is the worst in the NBA of anyone who has played at least 1,000 minutes already this season, and the Hornets have a 5-17 record when he starts. He was drafted as a potential point guard prospect, but he averages only 2.3 assists. His shooting has been awful from everywhere (33 percent from the field, 30 percent from three, 55 percent from the free throw line), and his defense has been bad as well.
PG Aaron Brooks, Sacramento Kings: For reasons only Kings head coach Keith Smart knows, Brooks started 20 games at point guard for the Kings. In those 20 games as a starter, Brooks averages 3.0 assists per game. For the season, Brooks averages 2.5 assists per game. Needless to say, that's the worst assist rate by a starting point guard in the NBA.
PG Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: Rubio missed the first five weeks of the season recovering from a torn ACL from last season. While the Timberwolves started 11-9 without him, Rubio has been awful this season, shooting 23 percent from the field while averaging only 5.1 assists per game. Rubio probably shouldn't have come back so early.
PG Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers: Nash missed 24 games with a leg injury, the first time the former MVP missed more than 12 games in 13 years. The Lakers actually went 12-12 in Nash's absence and hired the coach that made him an MVP, Mike D'Antoni, during his absence. Of course, that also means that the Lakers had three different coaches while Nash was sidelined. The Lakers are 6-13 in games Nash has started this season, and Nash is scoring his fewest points since 2000.
PF Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks: Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season with a knee issue, and the Mavericks started 12-15. Like his buddy Nash, Nowitzki's return hasn't exactly sparked the Mavericks, as the Mavs have a 6-10 record since Dirk's return. Nowitzki is also having his worst season since his rookie year, averaging 13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a career-low 0.4 steals a game while shooting only 41 percent from the field.
SG Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings: Evans has missed 16 games this season, but the Kings haven't missed him too much in those games (8-8 record when Evans is out). Evans has been averaging career-lows in points (14.9) and assists (3.1) this season.
SG Brandon Roy, Minnesota Timberwolves: I would have had the Suns in this spot, but Channing Frye (enlarged heart) is their only notable absence this season, while the Portland Trail Blazers don't have any injuries keeping them out of a playoff spot, just an invisible bench. If there is any team that should have three "injured reserves" on the No-Star team, it is the Timberwolves, and former Trail Blazer Brandon Roy gets the third spot. Despite Roy's 2011 retirement due to knee issues, the Timberwolves signed him anyway, thinking he could be a starter. Roy started the first five games, shooting 31 percent and averaging a career-low 5.8 points per game, before undergoing knee surgery.
SG Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets: Gordon has missed at least 20 games each of the past four seasons. The Hornets started the season 6-23 without Gordon, as he recovered from a knee injury. The Hornets have been better since his return, as the team has a 7-5 record with Gordon in the lineup. Though Gordon is averaging 17.6 points per game, he still has rust to knock off, as he is shooting a career-low 40 percent from the field and rebounding (1.6 rebounds per game, one of the worst rates in the league).
Mike D'Antoni, Los Angeles Lakers: Mike D gets to coach this team based off of his quote, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA:
"We've got an All-Star team out there," D'Antoni said before the game. "Have you ever watched an All-Star Game? It's God-awful because everybody gets the ball, they go 1-on-1 and then they play no defense. That's our team. That's us."
That's the Western Conference No-Star team ... who would you put on (or take off) the roster?