The second round of All-Star voting returns was released on NBA.com Thursday.
Eastern Conference starters as of today: G Derrick Rose, G Dwyane Wade, F Lebron James, F Carmelo Anthony, C Dwight Howard
Western Conference starters as of today: G Kobe Bryant, G Chris Paul, F Kevin Durant, F Blake Griffin, C Andrew Bynum
Are all of these players deserving as of now? Sure. We don’t have anyone the fans are voting in based just on name/reputation, like Iverson, McGrady, Vince, etc… in their less than All-Star starter caliber years. But all of these guys have a legitimate case to be an All-Star starter based on production in this current season, and most are just locks. Production aside, if the game is truly for the fans, and it is, then some guys I’d like to see, and for a bunch of minutes, are:
Ricky Rubio – This guy is made for the All-Star game. The fans see it too, as he’s 3rd behind Kobe and Chris Paul in the West at guard in votes so far. Would love to see him make the jump to starter. Something tells me that’s where he’ll be in future years.
Rajon Rondo – Want to see Rondo for the same reasons as Rubio. Rondo sets others up. He’s also the best player on the Celtics these days, and happens to be 3rd in the East at guard in votes.
Josh Smith – This guy is having a fantastic season for the Hawks who are sitting 2nd in the East (now minus Al Horford). Smith would have the potential to throw down some nice dunks.
Who do you want to see? Any other exciting young players that would make the game more entertaining?
Ricky Rubio made his NBA debut earlier this week as the Minnesota Timberwolves faced the Thunder. Coming off the bench, Rubio put up 6 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals in 27 minutes of action. He posted similar numbers in his second game against the Bucks on Wednesday. The numbers may not jump out (yet), but if you watched either of these games, or have watched him play in international competition, it’s clear that Rubio is going to be a force in this league. At 21, his court vision already rivals that of the league’s best. If he can get his jump shot to fall consistently, he’ll be a star. The Wolves look to be a great situation for Rubio and the young talent around him in Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley, and even newly acquired guard J.J. Barea. You can feel the buzz at Target Center through the television every time Rubio touches the ball, the crowd anticipating the next great dish.
I’d be shocked if Rubio’s rookie cards stay at their current level, for several reasons. One- he’s the only rookie this year that actually has true rookie cards out! His true rookies were produced for the 2009-10 season as he was drafted back in 2009. The other option is the new SP Authentic product, but some of the top rookies are missing from this set (Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams). Two- the availability is limited. His Topps, Upper Deck, and Greats of the Game rookies can be had for cheap, generally under $5, but I would expect the price of these to rise as more folks get to see Rubio with the Wolves. Anything outside of these and his UD Draft Edition card are selling high, as most of these others are autographed and from higher-end products. Even his Topps Chrome rookie /999 is tough to find.
Rubio will certainly provide his share of SportsCenter highlights this year. I for one will be watching the Wolves on the league pass as often as I can.