2014 NBA All-Star Game to feature 4 First-Time Starters

paul-george-pacersThere’s not normally a lot of turnover when it comes to NBA All-Star game starters. Fans usually vote big-name veterans in as starters, whether they’re injured or healthy. Case in point, Kobe Bryant has played all of six games this season, but he was still voted into the All-Star contest.

Speaking of which, Bryant had previously said that the game needs to feature some younger players. And he’ll get his wish because four first-time All-Stars were also voted in as starters too. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Stephen Curry all garnered enough fan votes to start in their first All-Star contest.

Many were surprised that Curry wasn’t selected as a starter or reserve last year. But he won’t have to worry about that this season after garnering lots of fan votes. Love is another interesting story because he passed Dwight Howard just before the voting closed. “Hey, I’m popular now,” Love said jokingly. “It’s very humbling to me to be starting in the All-Star game. I tip my hat to the fans in the Twin Cities and all over Minnesota and beyond.”

stephen-curryIt’s little surprise that George was voted in as a starter. He’s led Indiana to the league’s best record so far and is averaging 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 3.4 APG. Kyrie Irving has also put up some very solid numbers, with 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG and 3.0 RPG. Amidst a weak crop of Eastern Conference point guards, Irving definitely stands out, even with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles.

The 2014 NBA All-Star reserves will be announced on January 30th, two weeks before the game takes place on February 16th in New Orleans. We’ll cover the entire All-Star game rosters when they’re released, but for now, here’s a look at the starters.

Eastern Conference

Kyrie Irving, PG Cleveland Cavaliers – 21.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.0 RPG
Dwayne Wade, SG Miami Heat – 18.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.7 APG
Paul George, SF Indiana Pacers – 23.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG
LeBron James, SF Miami Heat – 26.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.5 APG
Carmelo Anthony, SF New York Knicks – 26.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.1 APG

Western Conference

Stephen Curry, PG Golden State Warriors – 23.5 PPG, 9.2 APG, 4.6 RPG
Kobe Bryant, SG Los Angeles Lakers – 13.8 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG
Kevin Durant, SF Oklahoma City Thunder – 31.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 5.1 APG
Blake Griffin, PF Los Angeles Clippers – 22.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.5 APG
Kevin Love, PF Minnesota Timberwolves – 25.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 4.1 APG

Mike Brown wants NBA’s Top Pick Anthony Bennett to be a PF

anthony-bennet-cavsWhen the Cleveland Cavaliers took Anthony Bennett number one overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, many speculated that the Cavs would use him at small forward. Sure Bennett mostly played power forward at UNLV, but there are a host of reasons why fans thought he’d play the 3 spot. Here’s a look at some of these reasons:

– The Cavs already have 6’9″ Tristan Thompson at power forward. The Texas product more than proved himself capable of handing starting NBA duties by averaging 11.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 0.9 BPG. Thompson already shares a similar background with Bennett since the two grew up a mile apart in Toronto and went to the same high school in Nevada’s Findlay Prep (though not at the same time). Now both players will be sharing minutes at the 4 spot.

– Cleveland has a big hole at the small forward position. Alonzo Gee was a serviceable player at this position last year after averaging 10.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 1.3 SPG. But he’s also got some deficiencies here, as can be seen in his shooting (41%) and size (6’6″, 219 pounds). Upgrading the starting 3 seems like it would be a good priority.

anthony-bennett-unlv– Bennett doesn’t have the prototypical size of a 4. Sure his 239-pound weight is about average for the position. However, he’s listed at a generous 6’7″, which isn’t ideal.

Taking all of this into account, it was a little surprising when Cleveland head coach Mike Brown came out and said that Bennett will be used at power forward for the immediate future. He stated:

I got it figured. His ability to score in a lot of different ways is intriguing. His explosiveness is intriguing. His standing reach is higher than lot of guys playing power forward in the league, including Kevin Love. He’s got long arms. There’s a desire to want to be better. He has a lot of upside.

Despite Brown saying that he has it all figured out, one can’t help but question the idea of putting Bennett at small forward. Besides already having Thompson, who started all 82 games last season, Cleveland also acquired Earl Clark this offseason. Last year with the Lakers, Clark played solid off the bench after averaging 7.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 23 MPG.

Perhaps the Cavaliers plan on bringing Bennett along slowly while starting Thompson and using Clark sparsely. Or maybe Brown is just saying that he wants to use Bennett exclusively as a 4 to surprise everybody.

The latter would make just about as much sense as anything else at this point. After all, Cleveland has created a logjam at the power forward position while they have little else at small forward. Perhaps as the season progresses, we’ll see the number one pick used in different roles. But for now, it’s tough seeing how this situation will work.