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The Hoop Doctors

9 Potential First Time Eastern Conference All Stars in 2011

September 20, 2010 – Allen Moll

With the Summer almost officially over and basketball on all levels in a slow period as we await the start of training camp, it’s time to start to prognosticate on just how the 2010-2011 NBA season will play out. Some of the game’s best players have not only changed teams, but have completely switched conferences, consequentially shifting the balance power across the league as a few new All Star spots may now be up for grabs. We know many fans believe the Heat will dominate and certainly will vote in their big three. But who will take advantage of all the player movement away from the East?

Here is my list of the 9 Players Who Could Grab their first Eastern Conference All Star Selection in 2011:

1) Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks – Thanks to a scintillating rookie campaign and helping to provide a spark to the seemingly forever bound in mediocrity Bucks franchise, “Young Money” surely will look to take his game to the next level and become a 1st time NBA All Star. Although a tad inconsistent over the entire season, Jennings numbers(15.5 ppg, 5.7 ast, 1.3 steals) proved that a number of teams made a mistake to let him slide down to the 10th overall pick in the ‘09 NBA Draft. He showed flashes of superstar potential by nearly notching a triple-double(17 pts, 9 rebs, 9 ast) in his NBA debut and who can forget his 55 point scoring outburst, breaking Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Bucks franchise rookie record for points. There’s no doubting that Jennings is one of the league’s rising young stars as he and Andrew Bogut attempt to once again make the Bucks a contender. I’m calling it now – pencil Jennings in as an All Star come February.

2) Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers – It’s hard to believe that a player that has averaged roughly 16 ppg, 6 rebs, 5 assists, and 2 steals per contest, along with being a contributing member of the 2010 Gold Medal winning USA Basketball squad in Turkey, as well as being regarded as one of the best individual defenders around the league has yet to make an All Star Team. After playing in the shadows of the original AI – Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, and then even the under-achieving Elton Brand, “Iggy” is now undoubtedly the Sixers best player. Surely it will be interesting to see how(and where) he plays alongside #2 overall draft pick Evan Turner and developing PG Jrue Holiday in the Philly backcourt this season, but his offensive numbers have the potential to go through the roof with a much improved supporting cast surrounding him. After starring on the globe’s biggest stage at FIBA World’s, Iguodala stands a good chance of getting his first All Star nod.

3) Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls – After making 2 All Star Teams(‘07 and ‘08), winning a Gold Medal at the ’08 Olympics, along with possessing the skill-set to be a Third Team All NBA Selection(‘09), while playing in the loaded Western Conference, Boozer appears to be a shoo-in make the Eastern All Star squad in 2011. Boozer will be the primary beneficiary of Derrick Rose’s ever improving point guard play with the Bulls and is one of the game’s most dominating rebounders, as evidence of his 10.2 career average, including a playoff best 13.2 boards per contest last season. When healthy, Carlos is one of the toughest post players in the league to defend, as he should have some monster nights beating up on Eastern Conference bigs next season. After playing for a small market team in Utah the previous 5 seasons, look for Boozer to finally become more of a household name playing in one of the East’s biggest markets – Chicago.

4) Brook Lopez, NJ Nets – I’m sure that everyone will agree with me, that the time is now for the 3rd year, 7 foot, former lottery pick out of Stanford. After making a steady improvement from his rookie(13 ppg, 8.1 rebs) to sophomore seasons(18.8 ppg, 8.6 rebs, 2.3 ast), Brook is poised for a break-out year in 2011. He flirted with making the USA Basketball squad that won Gold in Turkey before being forced to sit out because of an injury. Brook has the advantage of playing alongside an All Star PG in Devin Harris who will continue to feed him the ball and another young frontcourt phenom in Derrick Favors, who in time will help take the defensive focus off of Lopez. Still only 22 years of age, Brook stands a good chance of making a 10 year run as a 20 and 10 performer and as one of the game’s next great big men. Along with that comes All Star nominations, All NBA Selections, and a possible 2012 Olympic Team nod. Let’s just hope he continues to keep that hair cut.

5) Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks – Some may be surprised that Amar’e isn’t first on my list, considering that he has been selected to 4 straight, and 5 overall All Star Games in the Western Conference.  Last year, his numbers(23.1 ppg, 8.9 rebs, .557 FG%) proved that he is nearly all the way back from some pretty severe knee and eye injuries in recent seasons, as he helped the Suns advance deep into the Playoffs, but their are questions of how well Amar’e will play in NYC without all of those nifty passes from 2 time MVP Steve Nash. Sure, he now has 5 year veteran Ray Felton, and his 6.4 assist per game average running the point in New York, but he just isn’t on the same level of that of Nash. On the other hand, being re-united with former coach D’Antoni and his uptempo system has to create tons of scoring opportunities for the athletic Stoudemire on the break, as not many big men will run the floor like “STAT.” Although many are predicting a rough first year in the “Big Apple”, remember that he is a 4 Time All NBA caliber performer who will enjoy taking part in the emotional geographic rivalry with the Kevin Garnett led Celtics. Now I’d pay to see that!

6) Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls – While it seems like we have seen the emotionally charged, energizer bunny like Noah for some time now, he is only 25 years old, and only entering his 4th professional season, all with the Chicago Bulls. After excelling on the national stage in college by winning back-to-back NCAA Titles with the Florida Gators in “06 and ‘07, he has steadily improved his play to the point that he was considered for one of the final spots on the Eastern squad last season, primarily for his outstanding defensive play, and for ranking among the Top 5 in rebounding all season. In helping the Bulls reach the Playoffs in 2010, Noah also had his best individual season since being selected as the 9th overall pick in the ’07 NBA Draft. He established career highs in points(10.7 ppg), rebounds(11.0), assists(2.1), and blocks(1.6), while taking his game to another level(14.8 ppg, 13 rebs) in the opening round, 5 game Playoff series loss to the Cavaliers. Noah should get plenty of chances to bolster is All Star resume by focusing on offensive boards and tip-ins, as well as cleaning the glass, as the 3rd option in Chicago behind Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer.  He will eventually make it to an All Star Game, but is 2011 the year he does it?

7) Darren Collison, Indiana Pacers – After both, sitting behind Jordan Farmar at UCLA and Chris Paul on the Hornets, GM Larry Bird finally freed up Darren from point guard purgatory for the 2nd time in his career by acquiring the former 1st round pick in the ‘09 NBA Draft. When given the chance,, Darren has shown off his immense potential like handing out a Hornets rookie record 18 assists, then later breaking his own record with a 20 dime effort later in the season. He also finished 4th in the Rookie of the Year voting behind some impressive season numbers(18.8 ppg and 9.1 ast) and his triple-double of 18 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. The former NCAA All American Honorable Mention with the Bruins also has tremendous potential as a defensive demon as he garnered a number of All Defensive honors in college and averaged more than a steal per contest during his rookie campaign. With Indiana coach Jim O’Brien literally handing the keys to the Pacers offense to Collison from day 1, and with a built in proven scorer in Danny Granger already on the roster, look for Collison’s numbers to improve from last season.

8 ) John Wall, Washington Wizards – With or without Gilbert Arenas on the Wizards roster for the entire season, Wall may have a shot at doing something that other great players like Allen Iverson and Tyreke Evans as rookies never had the chance to do, make the All Star Team in their  first season in the league. He has that amount of star power, and to be honest……he’s just that good. He instantly is arguably one of the fastest players in the league at going baseline to baseline, and should be able to average double figures in scoring to go along with 5-7 assists, and 2 steals. Most scoutshave rated him a tad better than Derrick Rose entering the league, as Rose averaged 16.8 ppg and 6.3 rebs with the Bulls.  But look for Wall to do even better than Rose if the Wiz decide that he and Agent 0 cannot co-exist in the Washington back-court.

9) Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors – Many fans around the league(especially in Toronto) have been waiting anxiously for the 7 foot, former #1 overall pick in the ‘06 Draft to adapt and excel in the NBA game. While he has steadily improved in his 4 seasons up North, Bargnani has played second fiddle to Chris Bosh. Now with Bosh off playing in Miami, is it Bargnani or the emerging DeMar DeRozan going to take charge as the alpha dog in Toronto? After averaging 17.2 ppg, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, while draining more than 37% from behind the arc last season, logical progression points to the “Italian Stallion” as the go-to-guy and will likely challenge for an All star spot.

10) Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers – Just Kidding.

With Allen Iverson unlikely to land on an NBA roster, let alone garner his 12th All Star selection and with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s ever advancing age, along with David Lee now playing for the Warriors in the Western Conference, it appears that upwards of 4 new Eastern Conference slots could be up for grabs for the 2010-2011 season. Who do you think will get the final selections?

Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.  Allen also provides content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.

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