|Westbrook is our unanimous pick as a reserve for the West. (Getty Images)|
The All-Star reserve selections are set to be announced Thursday night on TNT. The coaches have some tough decisions this year, particularly in the Western Conference with the flood of good teams and players.
With all due respect to the coaches who make the selections -- or at least their assistants' assistants who do most of the selections, we thought we'd take our own crack these. Here's who we think should make the cut Thursday night.
CBSSports.com 2013 NBA All-Star
|Ken Berger||Royce Young||Zach Harper||Matt Moore|
|Kyrie Irving||Kyrie Irving||Kyrie Irving||Kyrie Irving|
|Jrue Holiday||Brook Lopez||Jrue Holiday||Jrue Holiday|
|Tyson Chandler||Luol Deng||Tyson Chandler||Tyson Chandler|
|Joakim Noah||Joakim Noah||Joakim Noah||Joakim Noah|
|Paul Pierce||Paul Pierce||Brook Lopez||Brook Lopez|
|Chris Bosh||Chris Bosh||Chris Bosh||Al Horford|
|Paul George||Paul George||David West||Paul George|
CBSSports.com 2013 NBA All-Star
|Ken Berger||Royce Young||Zach Harper||Matt Moore|
|Russell Westbrook||Russell Westbrook||Russell Westbrook||Russell Westbrook|
|James Harden||James Harden||James Harden||James Harden|
|Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan|
|David Lee||David Lee||David Lee||David Lee|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||LaMarcus Aldridge||Zach Randolph||Marc Gasol|
|Tony Parker||Tony Parker||Tony Parker||Tony Parker|
|Stephen Curry||Stephen Curry||Stephen Curry||Stephen Curry|
The guys at Eye on Basketball decided to kick around some questions about our selections.
1. Who's the most deserving East and West player? Who's your first pick?
Royce Young: In the West, definitely Russell Westbrook. Out of the reserve group, he probably has the strongest case for being a starter. He's having his best season yet averaging better than 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while trimming his turnovers. He's taken a much larger responsibility in running the Thunder offense because of the departure of James Harden. And what's happened? Oklahoma City has the best offense in basketball, by a pretty wide margin. Seems like he's doing pretty good.
In the East, it's a little more cloudy, but I think I'd go with Kyrie Irving. He really has only two blemishes on his All-Star resume: His team stinks and he's missed some games because of injury. Outside of that, he's having some kind of terrific season.
Zach Harper: In the East, the first name that came to mind was Chris Bosh. His numbers aren't overly impressive, but 17.5 points and 7.1 rebounds from a third wheel is pretty good. He's the best safety valve in the NBA and he's been really good at center this season. He's played 64 percent of the Heat's center minutes and is giving up a PER of 17.0. Not bad for a skinny power forward.
In the West, Russell Westbrook was the first name in my mind. If voting didn't exist and we were basing All-Star starters off of actual merit, Russ would be starting next to Chris Paul in the West. He's just been too good this season, even with the early shooting woes.
Mat Moore: In the East, I'm going with Brook Lopez. He's been the best guy on the Nets, and it's not close. All that money, all that star power and Lopez, who I crushed the Nets for re-signing at a four-year max value, is undeniably why they're still chasing homecourt advantage in the first round. He's improved defensively and ticked his rebounding up, and he's certifiably the best scoring center in the league. Phenomenal season for the young man.
Out West, it's Tim Duncan. The old man is blocking everything in sight, which he hasn't done for seasons, making the whole offense hum, and leading the Spurs to an entirely new level. Duncan doesn't appear to just be doing his thing. He's playing at the level legends play at when they want to go out on top.
2. Who do you feel the least certain about?
Royce Young: I don't feel much conviction in picking LaMarcus Aldridge, for a couple of reasons. One, the West is already stocked with forwards. Two, he's having a quality season, but it's not as good as the campaign he put together in 2011-12, where he was a fringe All-Star.
Zach Harper: Can I just answer everybody in the East that isn't Bosh, Lopez, and Irving? The East feels weird to me. I should be finding quality wing players to throw in there, and I feel like I had to force just putting Jrue Holiday in there. I went too big with my reserves but I don't know where else to go. Noah should make it over Luol Deng and I feel like David West has meant more to the Pacers than Paul George has.
Matt Moore: In the Eastern Conference, I'm not entirely sure Tyson Chandler deserves it and that feels weird. But the Knicks' defense is 15th, and has dipped into the 20s for much of this season. He hasn't been able to control defensively like he did the past two seasons and his offensive impact is limited by the Knicks shooting a bajillion 3s per-minute. I'm also very iffy on which Pacer deserves in, and honestly, both David West and George deserve in.
In the West, I feel good. There are other deserving players, like there always are, but those have been the best players in the Western Conference along with the starters -- except for Dwight Howard.
3. What team do you feel like has to have two selections?
Royce Young: Oklahoma City. Durant's obviously in as a starter, but you can't keep Westbrook off the team. The Heat would be next in line, but if you felt frisky you could make a case against Dwyane Wade being on the team (I didn't say it would be a good case). There's pretty much no case pairing Westbrook with Durant.
Zach Harper: I don't know that I feel like any of the teams HAVE to have two selections. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker have been legitimately worthy with their play for the Spurs. David Lee and Stephen Curry have legitimately earned it. Really, I wish I had one more spot so that I could give Memphis two selections. Oh hey, speaking of. ...
Matt Moore: The Thunder, they've been the best, and the Spurs, because they've gotten so much balance from Duncan and Paker. The Knicks clearly need recognition of their suprising play in the East, and there's now way I'm putting J.R. Smith in there with his shooting percentage.
4. No Marc Gasol, really?
Royce Young: It's weird, because I lean heavily toward Marc Gasol being the best center in basketball. His overall skillset, intelligence, feel, passing and scoring ability and defensive presence make him one of the most complete bigs in the game.
But when you're talking All-Star, there's a certain flair and well, statistical presence you have to have. It's just kind of part of it. And with the West so stacked with deserving bigs, the fact Gasol's numbers are rather average (he's fifth in scoring in the West among centers, eighth in rebounding) really hurt his case.
Zach Harper: I'm blaming this one on the fans. They put Dwight Howard in the game and he hasn't been better than Tim Duncan or Marc Gasol this season. I simply ran out of spots and I think Zach Randolph deserves it as much as Gasol does. People look at Z-Bo's past numbers and think he's having a down year. And maybe he is. But he's still played at an All-Star level.
Matt Moore: Don't look at me, I think he should get in. He's the best center in the league, hands down, and he's the biggest reason for the Grizzlies' success. Him missing a spot would be criminal.
5. Take your two reserve rosters and consider a five-on-five with two reserves. Who wins?
Royce Young: The West is without a traditional swingman, but you could go with Tony Parker as your point guard, Westbrook off the ball where he flourishes athletically and then James Harden as a small forward. Then take your pick of either David Lee or Aldridge to go with Duncan inside, with a bench spark of Stephen Curry.
The East would have Irving running the show, Paul George at shooting guard, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh at power forward alongside Joakim Noah, who could cover him on the glass and on defense. Then Luol Deng and Brook Lopez off the bench.
I think it's pretty clear the West has an advantage here, mostly because of the athleticism and raw talent across the board. The East would have to really count on Irving to create offense, because outside of him, there's not a lot of playmaking on their side. While the West has a heap of playmakers and explosive offensive stars.
Zach Harper: I'd have to go SUPER big in the East. Irving-Holiday-Bosh-West-Chandler with Noah and Lopez spelling the big men. It would be incredibly awkward but they could play a zone of some sort and make it work. Plus, Kyrie playing pick-and-pop with West or Bosh or Jrue playing pick-and-roll with Chandler rolling and Kyrie in the corner could be really good. For the West, I'd go Westbrook-Curry-Harden-Randolph-Duncan with Lee and Parker off the bench. That's a great rebounding lineup with a fast pace and a lot of scoring. So many combinations would work on offense. West would roll the East in this scenario.
Matt Moore: You know what? I like my East crew here. Duncan's magnificence is limited by Tyson Chandler starting and Joakim Noah harrassing him. Jrue Holiday and Irving have the scoring and playmaking potential to offset the isolation brilliance of Westbrook and Harden. Paul George is slipping whatever big tries to guard him or overpowering whatever guard is assigned him and I think the East's defense overall would be better.
Isn't it so much more fun without the starters?