- C - Dwight Howard, Orlando - This is the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth. Howard is the best center on the planet, and there is no conceivable choice outside of him in the semi-woeful Eastern conference. For kicks, I'll let you know that Howard is averaging 20 points, an absurd 15 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game (24 PER) while being the biggest defensive force in the league. His only downside? His absurd handling of the "trade me or else" situation. A lock.
- F - Lebron James, Miami - The best all-court player in the league is having one of the best statistical seasons of all-time. Don't believe me? Take a look. 29.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per, 7.0 assists per, while shooting 55% FG and 43% from 3-point land. Oh, and his current PER is over 33. Thirty-three! For comparison, LBJ led the league last year at slightly over 27, and the all-time record is 31.89 by MJ in the late 80's. I don't need to keep talking.
- F - Chris Bosh, Miami - This one will surprise everyone, myself included. There is truthfully no one deserving of a second starting forward spot in the ASG this year from the East, but I can't in good conscience put Carmelo Anthony here with how he's played, and Paul Pierce struggled mightily out of the gate. Bosh is averaging 20 points and 8 boards as the 3rd option, and shooting a career high 52% from the field this year. I'm not in love with the choice, but he's playing very well in the early going, and is the most deserving guy.
- G - Derrick Rose, Chicago - The absolute no-brainer at the guard spot. He's leading all guards in both PER (over 24) and scoring (23 ppg) while putting up a very respectable 7 assists per game and carrying a top-2 team offensively every night. He's in the discussion for best point guard in the league (a two-horse race with CP3), and is a slam dunk choice.
- G - Deron Williams, New Jersey - I hate this pick. As covered above with the Bosh selection, this is a desperation pick, but for different reasons. There are two deserving candidates (Rondo and Wade) who have been saddled with early injuries and have only played about 60 percent of their team's games, and with all of that, Williams is the most deserving guy left. Deron has posted 20.6 ppg and 8.5 apg for the Nets and he's really come on in late January posting 24+ points in 6 straight games. I'm not in love with it, but with the 2 deserving candidates falling short, he gets the nod as of today.
- G - Rajon Rondo, Boston - One of the best defensive guards in the league and Boston's best player at this stage. He'll never be an elite scorer, but 15 points, 9+ assists and 5+ rebounds are pretty impressive on a team with that many options. Also, he's posted a 52% clip from the field, and really looks more comfortable with his mid-range game this year than in previous campaigns.
- G - Dwyane Wade, Miami - Still an unquestioned top-10 player in the world (and probably higher). He'd be the starter at the 2 if not for the injuries limiting his game action, but Wade has averaged 20/6/5 with over 2 steals per game for the Heat, and is a top-2 shooting guard on the planet. No-brainer.
- G - Joe Johnson, Atlanta - Joe is back to his pre-injury, pre-contract form. 19 points a game (and climbing with Horford out), all kinds of steady play, and a return to above-average defensive work that suffered while he was hampered last season. He'll never wow you unless he's unconscious on jumpers, but there's something to be said for consistency and he's still a high-level player, especially in the East.
- F - Carmelo Anthony, New York - He's been dreadful by his standards, but his standards are so high that he still qualifies here. Melo has still posted a 20+ PER despite shooting just 40% in the early going, and 24/7/5 is still a pretty ridiculous stat line. He's a one-dimensional player in that he can't defend anyone, but there's a very, very short list of guys you'd want in a pure scoring situation ahead of Anthony.
- F - Paul Pierce, Boston - Had an ugly start to the year, but Pierce's averages have climbed to 18/6/6 as of this writing, and he's doing that in a slightly-reduced 33 minutes a game. His best years are behind him, but he has an old man's game that should (and will) age nicely. Still an automatic pick for me.
- F - Josh Smith, Atlanta - Anyone who reads me knows my feelings concerning Josh Smith. The positives: Freakish athlete, very good back-side defender, deft shot-blocker, good rebound rate, and good finisher at the rim. The negatives: Average on-ball defender and... wait for it... thinks he can shoot 19-footers and operates as such. That's the list. All that said? He's averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game and if he can ever make a free throw, those numbers will climb. I tried my best to keep him off, but I can't do it.
- C - Greg Monroe, Detroit - This would've been Andrea Bargnani's spot had he not only played in 13 games, but Monroe is more than deserving. He's currently 2nd in the entire NBA (among qualified centers) in PER with over 23, and Monroe has averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds on 52% FG and an impressive 82% from the line as a young center. I really love his game, and while it's a weak position, Howard needs a backup with Al Horford out for the year.
Just missed: Andrea Bargnani, Brandon Jennings, Andre Iguodala
- C - Andrew Bynum, LA Lakers - Playing the best basketball of his career by a wide margin. Bynum is averaging 17 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks a game this year, and since the only barrier to his ascension as an NBA star has been his inability to stay on the court, I have to recognize the fact that he's been healthy all year so far (fingers crossed). I think he's the easy choice for #2 center in the league and #1 in the West with how he's played thus far on both ends of the court.
- F - Kevin Love, Minnesota - 25 points, 14 rebounds. Those are Kevin Love's averages through the first third of the season. That's completely insane in itself, but couple that with the fact that Minnesota is suddenly a playoff contender AND that he's shooting 40% on threes? Come on.
- F - Kevin Durant, OKC - KD is currently #2 in the West in PER behind Chris Paul, #2 scoring behind Kobe, and he's averaging a career high 8.1 rebounds a game from the small forward spot. He's clearly the best small forward in the West, and an easy choice.
- G - Kobe Bryant, LAL - Kobe. Bean. Bryant. Did you think we'd forgotten? 30 points a game? At age 33? The numbers he's putting up this year are ridiculous. I'm inclined to mention that I'm a believer that his usage rate is too high (2nd highest of his career behind the hilarious 06 season), but there's no denying the consistency and durability of Kobe despite various injuries. This choice is in pen.
- G - Chris Paul, LAC - He's taken the mantle from Tim Duncan as my favorite player in the league currently. Leads the West in PER while averaging 19 points, 9+ assists, and nearly 3 steals a game while shooting an absurd 52/44/85 slash line. He's one of the smartest players in the league, and commands a game offensively like no one else. Absolutely no decision to be made here.
- G - Russell Westbrook, OKC - 22 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals per game pretty much walks you to Orlando for the game. Westbrook is a better-than-average defender as well which earns him points over Nash, etc. The one knock is the decision making with just 5.7 assists to 4.0 turnovers a game, but he's electric and clearly a top-15 player.
- G - Tony Parker, SA - Somehow he's still underrated after all these years! 17 points and 8 dimes per game as he has carried the Spurs to a 14-9 start despite just 5 games from Manu Ginobili and a declining Tim Duncan. He's the upper-echelon point guard that everyone forgets, and I blame Brent Barry's wife.
- G - Steve Nash, PHX - Nash is amazing. At age 37, he's putting 15 points, 10 assists, 55% FG and 40% 3-point and he's not slowing down. Last night? 30 points, 10 assists, one turnover in 29 minutes. That's obscene. He belongs here.
- F - LaMarcus Aldridge, POR - Perpetually undervalued and I don't understand it. 4th in the West in scoring with 23 a game, improved rebounding to nearly 9 per game, and putting the Blazers on his back ever since Roy went down and Oden disappeared. What's not to love here? If he doesn't make this team, I'm giving up.
- F - Paul Millsap, UTA - This one may be a bit controversial, but somebody has to make it here and Millsap has been out of his mind lately. 5th in the entire conference in PER at nearly 25, his numbers may look "meh" at 17 points and 9 boards a game, but when he's playing only 31 minutes per game AND along side Al Jefferson, it's pretty impressive. I think Millsap has been the best player on that Jazz team, and they are 12-8 out of the gate. I like him.
- F - Blake Griffin, LAC - Let me say this. I think we've reached the point where the buzz SLIGHTLY outweighs the actual player, but there's no denying that Griffin and his 22 points and 11 boards belong on the All-Star team. I wish he could make free throws and play up to his defensive potential, but he's still a top-20 player without question.
- C - Al Jefferson, UTA - I'm a believer in carrying a backup center, and while I would've waived that provision since Aldridge is 6'11, there wasn't an overly deserving guy to take Jefferson's spot. Big Al has posted an outstanding 22 PER from the center spot in Utah, and is currently averaging nearly a double-double at 19 points and 9 rebounds a game. Certainly worthy of the backup spot at the 5 in today's league.
Just missed: Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry (last 5 games were too brutal), Pau Gasol
And there you have it... debate away...