By Paul Forrester, SI.com
Woe be the potential All-Star from a losing team this year. Thursday night brought the results of the All-Star reserves vote, as conducted by the NBA's 30 head coaches, and like the fans who voted in the starters, winning seemed to weigh heavily the results. Only three players from sub-.500 teams, New Jersey's Devin Harris, Indiana's Danny Granger and Toronto's Chris Bosh will make the trip to Phoenix on Valentine's Day weekend.
Is that to say those who were selected shouldn't have been? Aside from Allen Iverson (who was voted in as a starter), the only questionable selection appears to be Rashard Lewis, whose volume of three-point bombing owes a lot to playing with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Keep in mind, the rosters are only 12-deep, so a few talents were sure to be miffed. Who deserves to be crying in their beer? Let's take a look.
Al Jefferson, C, Timberwolves
Doesn't he deserve to go to Phoenix just for paying the freight for the Celtics' title last season? If that doesn't convince you, then maybe the fact that he has been carrying the T'wolves' offense on his back for more than a year until Randy Foye recently realized he still had some game. A 6-foot-10 power forward averaging 22.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game while having to bang against the Shaqs and Duncans of the West? Sounds like we need a recount, isn't that right David West?
Kevin Durant, SF/SG, Thunder
Yes, the 11 wins is tough to reward, but last season's Rookie of the Year has improved his numbers across the board, in particular in his shooting accuracy. A 43 percent shooter a year ago, Durant is connecting on 47.2 percent of his attempts this season, an impressive jump until you consider he has raised his three-point mark from 28.8 percent to 42.1 percent this year. The hype outpaced the performance last year, but he has become a multitalented threat this season, and the kind you just want to see in the playground atmosphere of the All-Star Game.
Paul Millsap, PF, Jazz
We shudder to think where the Jazz would be without their Carlos Boozer insurance policy. Long one of the most efficient players in the NBA on a per-minute basis, Millsap has finally been able to demonstrate his value on a more recognizable scale with the extra minutes he's received courtesy of Boozer's absence. While his 15.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game are impressive, the fact that he's increased his per-minute numbers illustrates his worth as a starter, which he may be in Utah next season. Work this hard shouldn't go unrewarded.
Ray Allen, SG, Celtics
After Allen squeezed in last year on reputation, we won't cry too much for his exclusion this season. To be fair, though, Allen is having a significantly better year in 2008-09. He's shooting better than 50 percent for the first time in his career and has upped his three-point and free-throw shooting, as well. That's no small feat when you're 33 years old and have 14 seasons' worth of games on your wheels.
Mo Williams, PG, Cavaliers
A few words of advice: If you are going to make a case for yourself to be an All-Star by scoring 43 points, make sure you do so before the votes are in. Williams' explosion Tuesday night, which came after the reserve votes were collected, still may not have been enough to convince opposing coaches that he deserved a trip to the desert when the presumed MVP dresses in the same locker room. But the former Buck not only has helped LeBron James by providing a reliable escape valve on offense, but has actually put in an effort on defense this season.
Vince Carter, SG, Nets
We understand VC has put together another solid season, filled with 21.5 points, 4.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.8 three per game. But it almost seems like his candidacy is predicated on the fact that he's giving an effort on a losing team. Ya know, like he didn't do in Toronto. And when you have to reward a guy for giving the effort he is paid for, well, he can enjoy the long weekend, in our opinion.
For the most part, we can't argue too much with the selections, which in itself is an accomplishment. Did anyone else's accomplishments get overlooked? Let us know.