The Western Conference, as many NBA fans know, is very stacked. Many believe that any of the top ten teams in the Western Conference could hold their own (and often times beat) any of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. While determining the All-Star starters is very much a popularity contest (Kobe is a starter!!), the reserves are picked by the NBA coaches. With so many good teams in the NBA this season, the All-Star rosters, generally, look very strong. However, for our purposes at Big Ten Powerhouse, we notice that there are exactly ZERO former Big Ten players on the All-Star team.
Closest Candidates for All-Star Team:
Grizzlies and Former Ohio State Point Guard Mike Conley: While the biggest snub story is likely Damian Lillard being left off of the All-Star team, leaving Conley off the All-Star team was also a very questionable decision. Conley's style of play doesn't endear him to the eyes of his opponents in the way that a dominant athlete such as Russell Westbrook does. Conley has an excellent team around him and does not need to be the guy leading the way every single night for the Grizzlies. However, whenever the team needs him to make a play, whether it is scoring, setting up a teammate or penetrating the defense to create open space for his teammates, Conley has come through at a very strong rate. It's hard to say whether he deserves a nod over Lillard or any of those who made the All-Star team, but Conley, nonetheless, has been sensational.
Grizzlies and Former Michigan State Power Forward Zach Randolph: Along with his teammate Mike Conley, Zach has been brilliant for the Grizzlies and a big reason for why they are one of the NBA's elite teams. Zach is the leader among power forwards in rebounding, and shoots over 51 percent from the field. He is an incredible scorer in the post and continues to do everything the Grizzlies ask of him on both ends of the floor. Zach has come a long way from being essentially a salary to dump in a couple of trades. If the Grizzlies were in the Eastern Conference, it would be very unlikely that either Conley or Randolph to be left of the All-Star team. In a stacked Western Conference, there are so many great players that it is tough to create a 12 person team without leaving off many candidates who deserve to be an All-Star.
On a More Positive Note....
There are THREE former Big Ten players on the USA Rising Stars Challenge team. This shows the rise of Big Ten Basketball and how their stars are faring in the NBA as young professionals. The players in the challenge are:
- Former Indiana C Cody Zeller
- Former Indiana SG Victor Oladipo
- Former Michigan PG Trey Burke
This is great news for all of these guys and the Big Ten. Oladipo is also in the Dunk Contest as well. He has been doing great for the Magic despite his team's losing record, and he is getting proper acknowledgment for his achievements. Oladipo (and Greek Freak aka Alphabet aka Giannis Antetokounmpo) is arguably the best player from the 2013 draft thus far.
Let's hope the Big Ten makes a bigger mark on future All-Star Weekends, but former Big Ten players are definitely on the rise!