Predicting the Golden State Warriors’ All-Stars


After the release of the first 2015 All-Star Game voting results, it is clear Stephen Curry will — and deservingly so — represent the Golden State Warriors at this year’s game at Madison Square Garden — the “Mecca” of the basketball world.

But who will join him? Golden State’s league-best 23-5 record (even after back-to-back losses to both of Los Angeles’ teams) certainly helps those players on the fringe of earning an All-Star nod. No other Warrior will be voted into the starting lineup by the fans, but it will be hard for the Western Conference All-Star staff to overlook the players on the league’s best team.

Although Golden State has had a player in the last two games (David Lee in 2013 and Curry last season), it still is somewhat of a foreign feeling for Warriors’ fans to see their team represented in the game.

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Before Lee’s spectacular 2012-2013 season earned him the right to play with the other stars of the NBA, the last Warrior to be elected to the game was Latrell Sprewell in 1996-1997. To put that in perspective, I was not even one-year-old.

Before Joe Lacob and company pulled the trigger on the deal that sent Monta Ellis to Milwaukee (the trade that helped turn Golden State’s franchise around), many fans and some basketball pundits believed Ellis would be an All-Star and the Warriors would finally have a 21st-century All-Star. But, to no avail — Ellis was left off the roster and Golden State fans were left to cope with losing seasons in some other way.

However, this season, things are different. It is not a question of if the Warriors will be represented in New York. Instead, it is a question of how many. Curry is essentially a shoe-in considering the fact that the top-two vote-getting guards in the West start and that Curry currently leads all guards in votes and on the outside looking in is James Harden, who is more than 200,000 votes behind Curry.

Klay Thompson would be the next logical Warriors’ player to earn an All-Star nod, but the jam-packed Western Conference might make Thompson’s All-Star campaign a long-shot. He is averaging career-highs in points (21.3), assists (3.3), steals (1.3), blocks (0.9) and is right around his career-high in rebounds (3.5).

December 18, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) celebrates after a three-point basket during the second quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 114-109. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

He is known mostly as Curry’s side-kick and fellow “Splash Brother,” but Thompson brings much more to the table. Not only is he relied on to shoulder much of the load offensively, he often times matches up with the opposition’s toughest guard: many times Thompson will exert quite a bit of energy trying to contain the likes of Kobe Bryant, Harden, Russell Westbrook, Ellis, and sometimes even Damian Lillard, and Chris Paul.

If Thompson were to make the team, he would have to beat out most of the names mentioned above. Excluding the two starting guards (currently Curry and Bryant), it is probable that three other guards will make the team. Paul, Parker, and Lillard were the West’s reserve guards for last year’s game with Curry and Harden starting.

For the 2015 game, Harden is a lock barring an unexpected injury. He has had an MVP-worthy year thus far and has led the Houston Rockets towards the top of the deep Western Conference. He is averaging a league-best 27 points per game and career-bests in both rebounds and assists, all while ramping up his effort on the defensive side of the ball, ranking him fifth (98.6) in the NBA in defensive efficiency.

While Westbrook missed Oklahoma City’s first handful of games, he did not miss a beat upon his return. On the season, he is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. However, his stats are padded because of Kevin Durant‘s absence. With Durant finally getting back to full-strength, Westbrook’s numbers are sure to take a hit. He still should be able to produce enough in order to earn an All-Star nod. Assuming health, Westbrook will also be traveling to Madison Square Garden to face off with the league’s best.

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  • Lillard is looking to make his second-consecutive All-Star game and he is certainly making a case. While his win shares (an estimate of the number of wins contributed) are down, he is also putting up career-best numbers across the stat-sheet. He is averaging 21.9 points, five rebounds, and better than six assists per game.

    Paul — one of the most household names in the league — will surely be picked by the coaches because of the reputation he has built himself. However, Paul’s points, assists, and steals are all lower than last year and his win shares has dipped from 12.2 to 5.6. He will earn another nod — assuming health — because of the coaches’ respect for his ability to orchestrate an offense and play shut-down defense.

    Ellis is once again in the discussion for the All-Star Game, but he will likely miss out due to the plethora of worthy guards in the West. He is doing a fantastic job taking control of Dallas’ offense as Dirk Nowitzki continues to age gracefully, but the offensive ability of his teammates hurt his numbers, as his usage percentage (29.2) is much less that many other worthy guards.

    Bryant’s immense popularity will result in him winning the balloting, but if he happens to be injured during All-Star Weekend (just as he was last year), another guard will move into the starting lineup and the coaching staff may choose another guard as a replacement.

    Thompson’s low usage percentage (26.5) and defensive ability may help his case, but he will not earn his first All-Star bid unless he takes his play to the another level now or injuries occur and he is selected as a replacement.

    Nov 28, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) drives past Charlotte Hornets forward Cody Zeller (40) during the first half of the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

    Many other Warriors are having great seasons, but they will also take one on the chin because of the West’s expansive talent. The coaching staff will respect the play of Draymond Green — his gritty style and all-around improvement — and would love to have him as part of their squad, but there will not be enough room on the roster.

    Too many capable players will be Golden State’s All-Star undoing, but that certainly is not a bad thing for the games that actually matter. Instead, most of the Warriors’ players will rest up over the weekend and return poised and ready to make a championship run.