- Tim Legler, NBA studio analyst
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The All-Star rosters are out, and two great scorers from the East are not on it. And I expected the latter trio to be on the West team. I disagree with those omissions for the Sunday, Feb. 19 showcase in Houston. I thought those five should have been among those announced Thursday for the midseason game.
Arenas and Redd aren't out of the picture yet. Commissioner David Stern still has one pick to make to fill the spot of injured Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal. Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace made it on the East team. He's the one player not on my original picks whose selection I don't have a problem with. The Pistons are having a dream season.
But Washington guard Arenas is the fourth-leading scorer (28.2 ppg) and HAS to be an All-Star. Arenas puts up huge numbers night in and night out and is one of the toughest individual matchups for any guard in this league defensively. For all that Washington has underachieved, the team is 24-23 and only one-half game out of the fifth seed in the East.
Milwaukee guard Redd's steady offensive onslaught (25 ppg, 45 percent FG) has propelled the Bucks to the current sixth-seed in the East. He is one of the best five shooters in the NBA and is a vastly underrated ball handler and creator.
My initial West choices included Camby, who lost out to Pau Gasol for the center spot. It was either Camby or Mehmet Okur. I gave the nod to Camby, despite missing a large chunk of action due to injury, because he impacts the game (15.2 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 3.0 bpg) in more ways than Okur and his team leads the same division.
And there's no Anthony. 'Melo has had a breakout year in terms of consistency and efficiency. His scoring (25.7 ppg) has peaked because he takes better shots and has been feasting at the free throw line. Putting up these kind of numbers is significant on a first-place team.
The Hornets' standout rookie guard Paul didn't make it. I didn't want to put a rookie on the team when there are other big name guards out there, but I thought the kid simply couldn't be ignored. He should be a unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year (if not, there ought to be an investigation) and is the next truly great point guard in the NBA. Even more impressive, the Hornets are over .500 in February and have a legit shot at the postseason.
Allen's the world's best shooter, and is still putting up numbers (24.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.4 apg) but he hasn't been able to carry the Sonics above mediocrity. Last season's surprise story (50 wins) has been a major disappointment and that has hurt Allen's chances.
As for Garnett, I chose to leave off a guy averaging 21.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.3 bpg, and shooting 54 percent from the field. The forward position in the West is the toughest deal going. The T-Wolves looked listless most of the first half and I thought KG hadn't been dominant enough to beat out 'Melo, Gasol, Dirk, Elton Brand and the Matrix. I was wrong.
Gasol's ability to get 19 and 9 every night without looking as if he is exerting much energy didn't work against him. Maybe it's the fact his team is the most underrated in basketball. Maybe it's the beard. I don't really know. He is too basic for his own good. But he's going to Houston.
Now, just have to wait for the Commish's choice. It should be an entertaining game.
ESPN analyst Tim Legler, who last played in the NBA for the Warriors in 1999-'00, won the AT&T Shootout during the 1996 All-Star Weekend, posting the highest three-round total (65 points) in event history.
Tim Legler explains why five players who were snubbed for Houston should have been called