A number of ESPN writers believe Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry should beat out Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge for 2013 All-Star recognition.
Kevin Pelton writes...
Now there's a decision whether to go big or small again for the final spot. There really aren't many in-between options, with Manu Ginobili sidelined by injuries and a big vacuum behind Durant at small forward in the West. Portland's Nicolas Batum has emerged as the best of the bunch, but his below-average adjusted plus-minus remains too weak to merit a spot on the All-Star roster.
Ultimately, my choice came down to Aldridge and Curry, who is the top remaining option by both WARP and Win Shares. If you believe in a balanced roster, Aldridge is a fine choice based on his track record and critical importance to the Blazers. Still, I favor Curry because he's been the more valuable player through the first half of this season. The only factor really working against Curry is the depth at point guard in the West. Always a dangerous scorer and capable playmaker, Curry has stepped up his individual defense on the perimeter. He's also proving surprisingly durable, playing better than 38 minutes a night. That's an All-Star kind of season.
A panel of writers that includes Henry Abbott, D.J. Foster and Tom Haberstroh unanimously picks Curry over Aldridge.
Henry Abbott: Stephen Curry. He has played long and productive minutes on a vastly improved Warriors team. And with crazy 3-point shooting and passing skills, he's the kind of crowd-pleaser people want to see in exhibitions.
D.J. Foster: Stephen Curry. Leaving off Randolph and Aldridge is tough, but Curry may be having the best 3-point shooting year ever. No player in NBA history has averaged at least three made 3-pointers a game on 46 percent shooting like Curry has so far this season. Add in his underrated defense and rebounding, and Curry gets the nod.
Tom Haberstroh: Stephen Curry. He may not be quite Steve Nash, but he's the rightful heir to Nash's throne. Curry remains the only player in NBA history to average at least three 3-pointers and six assists per game. The guy is shooting 54 percent since Christmas ... from 3-point land. I mean, that's just unfair. He's the best shooter in the league and an improving playmaker for the season's surprise team. All-Star.
Chad Ford goes with Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson over both Curry and Aldridge.
West: James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, Marc Gasol, David Lee
Curry, 24, is averaging 20.7 points, 6.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and shooting 43.7 percent overall and 46.4 percent on threes.
Aldridge, 27, is averaging 20.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.0 steals and shooting 46.2 percent.
Jefferson, 28, is averaging 17.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and shooting 48.3 percent.
The Blazers sent out a fact sheet making Aldridge's All-Star case on Monday and Erik Gundersen of Blazers.com played up his defensive skills recently. David Aldridge of NBA.comhas LaMarcus Aldridge on his All-Star team. Marc Stein of ESPN.com did not. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com selected both Aldridge and Curry for his All-Star team but didn't stick with the starters as voted by the fans.
Aldridge finished 11th among Western Conference frontcourt players in this year's voting. The coaches will announce the reserve selections on Thursday.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter