One man's top three All-Star snubs in each conference:
I realize that Dragic making the Western Conference's roster would have forced West coaches to omit either Damian Lillard or Tony Parker. I still think the crafty lefty deserves to be in New Orleans when both he and his team have zoomed past all reasonable expectations by such a substantial margin. Generally, it feels morally wrong to propose a West squad without a single Spur, but in this rare case I think it's justified. Dragic over Parker for me.
The Unibrow is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and more than three swats nightly. The All-Star Game is in New Orleans. Those realities strongly lead me to believe that Davis, not Dragic, will be the player chosen by incoming commissioner Adam Silver to replace the injured Kobe Bryant, despite the fact Davis is obviously not a guard. The momentum is already bubbling behind the idea that we're going to see Davis, with his top-five player efficiency rating, when the NBA's 63rd midseason classic actually tips off.
Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins has the strongest statistical case, along with Davis, to be the West's 12th man. It was largely my internal struggle trying to choose between Boogie and Davis when I made my reserve picks on Friday, that convinced me that I couldn't settle on one for my seven-man West bench. But I'm giving Conley this slot because there was a loud Twitter uproar on Boogie's behalf when he didn't get the nod from West coaches. Virtually no one out there is even stating the steady Conley's case, so we decided that's our job.
Two Raptors on the All-Star team when there were projected to be none when the season began? East coaches apparently couldn't buy into that radical concept, which means Lowry -- arguably the East's best point guard so far this season -- will be a spectator. He really should have gotten Joe Johnson's backcourt spot -- my Toronto-loving Grantland colleague Zach Lowe is especially bummed about this -- but the coaches apparently weren't ready to live in a world in which the Raps are suddenly awash in starry names.
Joe Johnson over Kyle Lowry is a complete joke.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) January 31, 2014
I know I'm in the minority here. I also know that I'm sticking to the claim made here last week that the long-awaited inside scoring and credibility Jefferson has brought to Charlotte -- without undermining the Bobcats' defense like so many skeptics predicted -- gives him a stronger claim to a spot on the East's bench than, yes, even Chris Bosh.
3. Arron Affalo, Orlando Magic
The change in my thinking that I have made since Friday is that both DeRozan and Lowry should be New Orleans-bound. If I did things over, Lowry would have nudged past Afflalo on my original list of East reserves. But I still have Afflalo, scoring at a career-best rate while also playing at a new peak in terms of overall efficiency, is a more deserving All-Star candidate than Twitter darling Lance Stephenson. If ever there was a season in the East that we don't need to obsess about win/loss records while picking All-Stars, this is it. So Afflalo had the edge on Stephenson (who's barely above the league average in PER) with me. The Pacers will be more than represented with Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Frank Vogel in N'awlins.