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The reserves for the 2014 NBA All-Star game were announced today and of course their were some controversial decisions especially in the loaded Western Conference.

4. Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns) - This is kind of a hindsight is 20-20 observation but after what he did against the Indiana Pacers a difficult one to argue.

Tonight, on the Pacers home floor: 28 points 7 assists and 3 rebounds in a 102 - 94 win which was only the second loss Indiana has suffered at home all season.

Dragic, has been far more than a one hit wonder however.

He has served as the catalyst for what is easily the most surprising team in the league.

A team that was a foregone conclusion to have a lottery pick has won four in a row, has a record of 28-18 and has people already handing Jeff Hornacek the coach of the year trophy.

Who would he potentially replace? Conventional wisdom says either Damian Lillard, considering Dragic has shot the ball so much better than Lillard this season, or Chris Paul because he's been out with an injury for over a quarter of the season.

3. Demarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings) - Yes, the Kings are 15-30 but their record cannot be blamed on Cousins' production. Cousins is a double double machine averaging just under 23 points and 12 rebounds a game.

It probably didn't help his chances that he has sat out the past four games and had limited action in a fifth due to a sprained ankle.

Not to mention, his reputation of being a player who has an attitude problem.

Who would he potentially replace? See guards mentioned in Dragic discussion above.

2. Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors) - Lowry has been the most consistent player as well as orchestrator for the second most surprising team in the NBA.

Lowry is the definition of a player who is a glue guy that leads his team with his leadership and all around play.

As Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver reported:
Toronto’s point guard could be forgiven if he let fly a few profanities Thursday night. As the best all-around player on the East’s third-best team, Lowry seemed like a shoo-in, but instead he will sit at home as teammate DeMar DeRozan gets the nod. It’s fair to wonder whether some extenuating circumstances influenced his non-selection, because his statistical body of work (16.8 points, 7.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals) is pretty unimpeachable, particularly in comparison to Joe Johnson.

Lowry’s 20.4 PER led the East at his position, and that mark trailed only Dwyane Wade among all East guards. Toronto’s record was superior to Cleveland’s (Kyrie Irving), Washington’s (John Wall), and Brooklyn’s (Johnson), and the Raptors’ turnaround following the trade of Rudy Gay has been impressive enough that an argument could have been made that they deserved two All-Stars. But even if the coaches were hellbent on spreading around the love, Lowry, 27, was the proper pick over DeRozan, as the former outperforms the latter in PER, on-court/off-court impact and win shares by healthy margins. The worst-case scenario question should have been “Why Johnson instead of DeRozan or Lance Stephenson?” instead of “Why isn’t Lowry on this list?”

Who would Lowry replace? Either his teammate Demar Derozan or Joe Johnson who may have been the most confounding All Star selection.

1. Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) - Davis has been as advertised on defense coming out of Kentucky leading the league in blocks at 3.5 and also contributing 1.5 steals per game.

What wasn't expected is what he's done on offense (20.4 pts 10.4 rebs.) in just his second year which has many people already anointing him as a future MVP.

Even with the snub Golliver thinks Davis will be playing on his home floor come All-Star Sunday:
The reasons that Davis didn’t make the cut are obvious: he’s young, the 19-26 Pelicans aren’t good and there are tons of worthy candidates at his position. Equally obvious, though, is what an impressive season he’s having. Still just 20, Davis is averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, a league-leading 3.3 blocks, and 1.5 steals per game. In addition to leading his team in scoring, rebounding and blocks, Davis ranks in the league’s top five with a 26.8 PER and he’s a solid candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award.

Much like Cousins, Davis loses the tie-breaker against the likes of Nowitzki and Howard because of the Pelicans’ poor record. Unlike Cousins, though, he is baggage-free. That fact, combined with New Orleans hosting the 2014 All-Star Game, likely makes Davis the favorite to be chosen as a roster replacement for Kobe Bryant, once the Lakers guard is officially scratched with a knee injury.

Follow Clint on Twitter @ClintCorey

Clint Corey 1/31/2014 01:55:00 AM Edit
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