Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - If you scour the stats or obsess over box scores, you know there are always a select few left out of the NBA's All- Star Game.
That concept is not revolutionary, but this place in space belongs not to those who will be justly debated, but to those who will scarcely be mentioned in long-winded debates of qualifications.
Here, we play by the rules. The All-Star team gets rounded out with two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild-cards. It's a chore, but one born out of love.
For this, the second annual "No Chance" All-Stars column, we are going to assume that the starting five, as voted on by fans, remains what it is on this date.
East - Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers; LeBron James, Miami Heat; Paul George, Indiana Pacers; and Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks.
West - Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors; Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets; Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers; and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder.
(With voting ending on Jan. 20, Curry and Griffin are the only ones in jeopardy, trailed closely by Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love.)
The fans are doing all right for themselves, save the Bryant nonsense. He's played six games more than Anita Bryant this season, but fan voting breeds mistakes.
For the purposes of the column, anyone who truly appears to be up for consideration won't be included. Players like Love, Paul, Roy Hibbert, John Wall or LaMarcus Aldridge aren't eligible for the list.
Also, keep this in mind - it's almost impossible to come up a respectable Eastern Conference reserve corps, so coming up with a second one, well, I'm impressed by me.
After reading, I'll throw in a bonus list of names who are most likely to be named reserves when those are announced on Jan. 30.
Let's do this.
EASTERN CONFERENCE "NO CHANCE" RESERVE GUARDS
KEMBA WALKER, Charlotte Bobcats; ARRON AFFLALO, Orlando Magic
Walker is the impotus for this column last season and things haven't changed much in this one. I mean other than his scoring is up, 3-point shooting is up and rebounding is up. His assists are down, which hurts, but Walker, mostly because the Bobcats have been a joke, never warrants discussion.
Afflalo was on this team until he missed some time lately and because the Magic have been absolutely putrid. He is scoring at 20.8 points per game, while shooting 47 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the foul line. The rebounding numbers and assist numbers are both career-high averages. Of all the players mentioned, outside one West veteran, Afflalo still has the best chance to make the team.
EAST "NO CHANCE" RESERVE FRONTCOURT
JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls; EVAN TURNER, Philadelphia 76ers; AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Would you believe Noah's numbers aren't drastically different from a season ago when he made the All-Star team? He's played 35 games with a myriad of injuries on the Sinking Ship Chicago and his defense is still first-rate.
Turner is Mr. Stats. He averages 18.9 ppg, 6.3 rebounds per game and 3.9 assists per game, and shooting 44 percent from the field and 81 percent from the line. That's a very respectable stat line. Problem is, he complains more frequently than an 8-year-old and his attitude is fuzzy. Turner thinks he's an elite guy and carries himself that way, it's just that the officials and rest of the NBA don't agree.
And what is Horford's big crime that he can't get an All-Star sniff? Oh, yeah, he tore his pectoral muscle and is done for the season.
EAST "NO CHANCE" WILD-CARDS
JEFF TEAGUE, Atlanta Hawks; BROOK LOPEZ, Brooklyn Nets
Teague's numbers are up across the board, except for all of his shooting percentages and turnovers. But Teague has been forced to shoulder more of the load in Atlanta with Josh Smith gone and Horford in the whirlpool.
Lopez and Horford are here to illustrate a point - the Eastern Conference is historically bad. In looking through this column last season, there was a perfect blend of outsiders who wouldn't catch the establishment's eye. This season, the pickings are so slim, I wouldn't be shocked if someone abstained from voting. Sub-standard All-Stars will be in New Orleans. There's nothing that can be done.
Those under consideration for reserve spots: LUOL DENG, Cleveland Cavaliers; CHRIS BOSH, Miami Heat; DEMAR DEROZAN/KYLE LOWRY, Toronto Raptors; ANDRE DRUMMOND, Detroit Pistons; WALL/BRADLEY BEAL, Washington Wizards; PAUL MILLSAP. Atlanta Hawks; LANCE STEPHENSON/ROY HIBBERT, Indiana Pacers.
WESTERN CONFERENCE "NO CHANCE" RESERVE GUARDS
GORAN DRAGIC, Phoenix Suns; KLAY THOMPSON, Golden State Warriors
Dragic is this season's Walker in that he is a perfect candidate for this role. He's scoring over 19 points per game, while handing out 6.1 apg, which is way down from last season, but that's because he has Eric Bledsoe with him this season. (Bledsoe would be here if not for his injury. And this isn't the East, there are enough contenders without resorting to those who won't play until Halloween.) The Suns are the surprise team of the 2013-14 season and deserve an All-Star. Dragic is their best player right now.
Curry will probably get voted as a starter and earned his spot. David Lee is a legitimate contender. Are the Golden State Warriors good enough to warrant three All-Stars? Nope. But, at 19.2 ppg and 41 percent from long range, Thompson's value is under-appreciated.
WEST "NO CHANCE" FRONTCOURT
DEANDRE JORDAN, Los Angeles Clippers; NIKOLA PEKOVIC, Minnesota Timberwolves; DIRK NOWITZKI, Dallas Mavericks
Doc Rivers took over the Clippers and called Paul, Griffin and Jordan his L.A. Big Three. I laughed. Now, Jordan leads the NBA in rebounding at 13.4 per game and is third in blocked shots at 2.49 per game. The Clippers are going to host a Western Conference playoff series and Jordan's anchoring influence is a huge reason.
Pekovic is at 18.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg. Those are huge numbers, except for the fact there are seven players who have better averages. The Wolves don't merit two All-Stars and Love is going, so Pekovic has no chance. But, it shouldn't be so easy to dismiss his performance.
Nowitzki is an interesting spot. The Mavericks are a playoff team. Nowitzki is a multiple-time All-Star and a mortal lock Hall of Famer. The German still scores over 20 a game and while his rebounding is at its lowest since his second season, Nowitzki has been an outstanding presence on a playoff-bound team. He could get a look, but my hunch is the future Hall of Fame spot will go to the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan.
WEST "NO CHANCE" WILD-CARDS
MONTA ELLIS, Dallas Mavericks; ANTHONY DAVIS, New Orleans Pelicans
Ellis has been down this road before. He's put up gigantic numbers in previous seasons and never been an All-Star. Has he ever really been close in anyone's eyes? Ellis was probably slightly miffed/humiliated that he didn't get the kind of contract he thought was coming as a free agent, but he's scoring over 20 points per game, while handing out almost six assists. His shooting numbers are up and his attempts are down to a low not seen by Ellis since the 2007-08 season. Oh, and the Mavs are a strong contender for a postseason berth.
Davis missed a huge amount of time and that's what's keeping off the West roster in his home All-Star game. He's played in 30 of New Orleans' 37 games. Is that not enough? Davis averages 19.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg and leads the NBA with 3.1 blocks per contest. (By the way, think of what this kid will be like in five years.)
Those under consideration for reserve spots: TONY PARKER/DUNCAN, San Antonio Spurs; MIKE CONLEY, Memphis Grizzlies; ALDRIDGE/DAMIAN LILLARD, Portland Trail Blazers; LOVE, Minnesota Timberwolves; JAMES HARDEN, Houston Rockets; DEMARCUS COUSINS, Sacramento Kings.