Southwest Division All-Stars
To get into the All-Star festivities, we have adopted a different format for the main event. We have an All-Star lineup for each NBA division.
The Southwest is known for its spice and flavor and the NBA's Southwest Division is no different. The players featured in this division are bound to make you feel a certain way and there is no middle ground. Here are the top-five players that represent the Southwest Division All-Stars.
PG: Russell Westbrook. The strength of the Southwest Division is their guard play. There are undoubtedly a player or two getting snubbed here. Ja Morant, Jrue Holiday, and DeMar DeRozan could all make cases for the starting lineup. However, Westbrook's intensity is what gives him push forward. He's one of the leagues best rebounding guards of all-time, and even though he's in 12th season in the league, his athleticism and high-motor hasn't slowed down as much as you would assume. Westbrook is a dog on the court and a vocal leader who will push the pace for this team.
SG: Luka Doncic. Doncic's all-around game gives him the top spot here. His play-making ability, along with being a strong passer and rebounder helps secure his spot in the starting line-up. His size is also an area of strength here. Being 6'7 and 220 pounds at a guard position, while being able to do the things he does, is definitely not the norm, and helps offset any defensive liabilities he may have. Also, while his 3-point percentage isn't pretty, his ability to heat up, combined with his range, makes him deadly when he's on.
SF: James Harden. The bearded one is one of the leagues best scorers. Regardless of how you feel about the way he accumulates his points, you can't deny his ability to get a bucket. Like Doncic, he also passes and rebounds well, using his size and strength to his advantage. His efficiency has taken a slight dip this season, however, there is no way you are leaving Harden out of the starting-five. He's played 60% of the year this season at the small forward position, so it's not a stretch to have him here.
PF: Brandon Ingram. The new surroundings this year have been kind to Ingram. This season has been a breakout year for the young guy and his numbers all across the board have taken a jump. He's nearly averaging 25 points per game, while grabbing six boards and dishing out four assists on a crowded Pelican's squad. His three-point percentage has also jumped from 33% last year, to 40% this year. He has to be in the discussion for the league's Most-Improved-Player award as he is nearing super-star status in New Orleans.
C: Kristaps Porzingis. The Southwest Division isn't know for strong big man play, at least not when you compare it to the plethora of guards who have been great. Porzingis get's the edge here for his ability to space the floor and protect the rim. He's blocking nearly two shots a game, and while his 3-point shooting is down, I don't think there is another big man in the division you would pick over him to take over a game if they needed to. He's still working his way back into game shape, both mentally and physically, but the Unicorn still has a unique skillset for a guy who is 7'3.
Summary: Let's be honest with ourselves. Defense is not going to be this squad's strength. While a few other players could have been inserted into this lineup to help defensively, play-making took the priority here. Westbrook, Doncic, and Harden are all capable ball-handlers and play-makers who will relentlessly attack the basket. Ingram is used as a small-ball four who can also score, pass, and will be relied upon to be effective from behind the arc. This season Porzingis has adjusted to a role that has him away from the paint, so he's getting used to playing on the perimeter. If another squad decides to go with a small-ball center, good luck trying to guard the 7'3 Latvian.