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As I down my Green Kool-Aid, still appreciating Isaiah Thomas' 52-point effort against the Heat, one has to wonder if the C's guard is worthy of an All-Star Game start.

In years past the fans have had 100 percent input on who starts the game, hence why an aging and struggling Kobe Bryant was given the nod last season.

But this year, things have changed. The fans will get 50 percent of the vote, while players and media members make up the other half.

All these factors bring up the case for Thomas possibly starting in the game which will take place in New Orleans on February 19th.

The Celts' guard will certainly have some tough competition, especially when you include that 50 percent fan vote. If it was 100 percent on the fans then Kryie Irving would without a doubt get the selection.

Luckily it is not so let's take a peak who the 27-year-old Thomas is up against in the Eastern Conference:

Kyrie Irving: 23.9 points, 6.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 48 FG%, 42 3-pt%

Thomas' most obvious competition, Irving plays on the best team in the conference. The Cavaliers are 25-7 and don't seem to be slowing down. The Cavs will definitely have at least two representatives in the game and Irving will be one of them. His ability to hit big shots was on full display on Christmas Day (when voting started) hitting the go-ahead bucket against the Warriors, which the fans took full notice of between downing their egg nog.

Irving missed last years game, which was a big reason why Thomas was selected for the first time.

John Wall: 23.6 points, 10.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 46.4 FG%, 33 3-pt%

Wall is another strong candidate to make the start. His 10 assists per game is outrageous as he has carried the Wizards to a .500 record. In most cases a 16-16 mark would not really call for much attention, but in the Eastern Conference that mark is currently good for the sixth-seed.

Kyle Lowry: 22.2 points, 7.3 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 46.9 FG%, 44.4 3-pt%

Lowry is part of the best backcourt in the Conference. The Raptors (22-10) are currently three games better than the Celtics and a big reason is because of the point guard north of the boarder.

Kemba Walker: 22.7 points, 5.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 46.2 FG%, 40.7 3-pt%

Walker, like Thomas, is the most important player on a current playoff team as Charlotte posts a record of 19-15. Walker, also like Thomas last season, has never made an All-Star Team, and is not likely to make it as a starter.

The case for Thomas: 27.7 points, 6.1 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 45 FG%, 35.5 3-pt%

Finally we have the man of the hour.

First of all Thomas is the most important player on a playoff team with a better record than Wall's Wizards and Walker's Hornets. His usage rate of 33.2 percent is good for 7th in the league, ahead of all of the guys listed above with the closest being Wall (30.9). The number is also higher than such NBA studs as Lebron James (29.7) , Kawhi Leonard (30.4), Carmelo Anthony (29.0) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.6).

What does that tell you? It means that Thomas is extremely important to his team, a squad that has been on fire as of late, posting a 7-2 record since his return from a groin injury in mid-December.

Thomas also has a player impact estimate of 15.8 percent, better than any of the other potential starting point guards besides Wall (16.0).

Digging into the more traditional stats, Isaiah ranks 5th in the NBA in scoring. He has posted nine games of 30-plus points including a 44-point effort on the road in Memphis as well as his 52-point gem against Miami.

When it comes to getting to the charity stripe, Thomas ranks 7th in the NBA at attempts (271), shooting 90.4 percent from the free-throw line. Only Irving comes close at 87.1 percent on only 121 attempts.

So there are some of the reasons why Isaiah should get the nod as the starter for the Eastern Conference. Will it happen? Probably not. I expect Irving to get the honor. But if for some reason the 5'9" Thomas gets completely overlooked that would be an utter travesty.

Photo Credit: NBA.com

Follow Rob Welch on Twitter @CelticWelch

Rob Welch 1/01/2017 04:10:00 PM Edit
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