Michigan Democrats propose ban on LGBTQ conversion therapy

Beard: My votes for most deserving NBA All-Stars

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Kyrie Irving

Los Angeles — This season, the NBA switched its process for selecting the starters for the All-Star Game. In addition to fan voting, which typically has been the only factor, the NBA will use a formula that includes input from fans (50 percent), players (25 percent) and media (25 percent).

I was one of the media members granted an All-Star vote as part of that process.

As with most media votes, it’s an individual choice for how to select the starting team. For many, it’s very much a nuanced process; for others, it’s as simple as picking their five favorite players.

For me, it’s a mix of considering players I thought were performing best this season and others who I think fans and die-hards would want to see. I didn’t go by the fan voting, which had some questionable players among their top vote-getters, including Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia ahead of players like Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.

Think of being able to select a pick-up game from all the NBA players, but being limited to two backcourt players and three frontcourt players. It’s not as easy as it seems, but I stayed with the traditional lineups that included a center, instead of having hybrids that just have a Draymond Green-type big man and free-flowing offense. Call me an old-head, but I still value the traditional center.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 19 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Fan voting ends at 11:59 Monday night; fans can vote at NBA.com/vote or on Twitter using #NBAvote.

Here are my selections:



Kyrie Irving, Cavs: After a mesmerizing Finals performance last season, Irving has established himself as one of the best ball-handlers and clutch players in the league. Of course, he hit the winning shot, but he’s shown himself to not just be LeBron James’ sidekick; he can hold his own.

Isaiah Thomas, Celtics: He can just ball. The Celtics have a wealth of talent, but Thomas is the best of them all. He averages more than 28 points and 6 assists per game and dominates games at just 5-foot-9. He made his first All-Star appearance last season, but this year, he’s raised his game and should be in the starting backcourt.

Next choice: DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: He just gets buckets — a lot of them. He just doesn’t get as much credit for how good he is — and he’s even better this year.


Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks: He’s a guard. He’s a forward. He’s just a very good basketball player. He has the handles of a smaller guard, but at 6-foot-11, it’s not awkward or forced. Players have said he’s one of the more difficult to defend, because with his length, he can do so much. If he starts hitting 3-pointers, just forget it.

LeBron James, Cavs: This one’s obvious. There’s not much here to write that hasn’t been said or seen already. He’s the best player in the world and he can turn it off and on whenever he wants. He’s not having his best season, but wait until playoff time and things always turn around.

Joel Embiid, Sixers: He’s still a rookie, right? Not so much, but the Sixers and their fans have waited long enough to pop the bubble wrap and see Embiid’s versatility. He’s been impressive, averaging near 20 points and 8 assists. He’s leading the Sixers’ resurgence and waking a long-slumbering fan base.

Next choice: Paul George, Pacers: The Pacers don’t have the talent base yet to be an elite team, but George continues to be one of the best players in the league.

Russell Westbrook



Stephen Curry, Warriors: In any All-Star game, he’s the kind of player fans want to see, because he can do uncanny things — shooting from 35 feet, dribbling through three defenders, or just his freakishly quick release. He’s always worth the price of admission.

Russell Westbrook, Thunder: This was a tough choice between the two leading MVP candidates. But Westbrook is revolutionizing the guard position, which was my tiebreaker. He’s nearing 20 triple-doubles in the first half of the season and has a shot at averaging a triple-double for the season. Ridiculous.

Next choice: James Harden, Rockets: He’s helped the Rockets become the most improved team in the league this year because of his versatility. His defense isn’t as good as Westbrook’s, but he’s growing in every other area.


Kevin Durant, Warriors: Like Antetokounmpo, he’s just freakish with what he can do at 6-foot-11. He’s an accomplished scorer and has made the Warriors more of a threat because of how he can pick and choose his spots to be a dynamic scorer. Seeing the two guard each other would be one of the top side notes of the start of the game.

Kawhi Leonard, Spurs: Year after year, it seems Leonard goes under the radar for how balanced a player he is on both ends of the court. In the Spurs tradition, he seems to go on without needing the limelight or the fan approval, but he’s just plain good.

DeMarcus Cousins, Kings: Many are turned off by Cousins’ personality, but he can be as dominant as anyone in the game. At 7-feet, he’s added the 3-pointer to his repertoire (38 percent) and he can take any big man off the dribble, in addition to posting up or hitting a mid-range jumper.

Next choice: Anthony Davis, Pelicans: He’s a point guard in a center’s body. The three-time All-Star averages career highs of almost 30 points and 12 rebounds and has been at his best this year. He just doesn’t have a full cast of talent around him.


Twitter @detnewsRodBeard