Fans voting for the NBA All-Star Game starters have done a decent job the past several seasons, but this year could end up being ridiculous.
Voting is just about over. Today, in fact, is the last day to turn in paper ballots, and Jan. 18 is the deadline for wireless and Internet voting.
That means there is precious little time to avoid a pair of travesties. If things don't change, Houston's Tracy McGrady will be a starting guard in the West, with Philadelphia's Allen Iverson a starting guard for the East.
McGrady, due mostly to injury and partly to ineffectiveness and the inability to help his team, has played in a grand total of six games this season. He's averaging 3.2 points in 7.7 minutes in his limited action. Not exactly All-Star numbers.
Yet McGrady is second only to the Lakers' Kobe Bryant in the voting for Western Conference guards — ahead of the likes of Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Iverson has put up slightly better numbers in his return to the 76ers this season, but he's still not close to being an All-Star. Between stints in Memphis and Philadelphia, Iverson had played in just 14 games and is averaging 14.8 points and 4.4 assists.
Again, there are literally dozens of guards in the NBA more deserving of an All-Star spot.
The league's coaches will make sure that many players who deserve All-Star status will get their due, since the coaches will pick the reserves. Still, for McGrady and Iverson to take spots from someone is just plain wrong.
It means that during this final week of online voting, Jazz fans who want Williams to have a better chance of being an All-Star should vote early and often — like they do in Chicago elections. But they shouldn't vote for Williams. They should vote for Nash and/or Paul.
Here's why: Williams is in seventh for Western Conference guards, with some 461,000 fewer votes than McGrady. There is no way D-Will can catch up. However, Nash is just 2,375 votes behind McGrady. That's a number that could easily be made up. Paul, meanwhile, is 45,208 votes behind McGrady. He, too, could conceivably catch McGrady with a late push.
And if Nash and/or Paul is voted in over McGrady, then the coaches will have one extra reserve spot for a guard on the All-Star bubble — like Williams.
So for this week only, votes for Nash and Paul are really votes for D-Will.
In any event, here are the 12 players from each conference that deserve to play in the All-Star Game in front of 80,000 fans at Jerry Jones' new palace of a ballpark in Dallas on Valentine's Day.
Carmelo Anthony, Denver — He's neck-and-neck with Kobe Bryant for the NBA's scoring lead and a major reason the Nuggets are again the team to beat in the Northwest Division.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City — The Thunder is in the thick of the playoff race thanks in large part to Durant's 28.4 points per game average.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas — Playing like a top MVP candidate for the second-best team in the West, averaging 25 points and eight rebounds per game.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio — Mr. Consistency is one of only three players averaging 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds per outing.
Zach Randolph, Memphis — He isn't even on the All-Star ballot — yet he's clearly putting up All-Star numbers for the surprising Grizzlies. Randolph is another 20/10 player, averaging 20.5 points and 11.5 boards.
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix — After a couple of injury-riddled years, he's back playing at a level expected of him. He's averaging 20.8 points and 8.7 boards for the overachieving Suns.
Chris Kaman, L.A. Clippers — Don't laugh, but Kaman is actually having a better season than the Lakers' Andrew Bynum or any other center in the conference. He's averaging 20.4 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers — The best player on the West's best team. Enough said.
Steve Nash, Phoenix — His numbers are every bit as good as they were in his back-to-back MVP seasons. He leads the NBA by dishing out 11.3 assists per game.
Chris Paul, New Orleans — Yes, he missed about a month of the season due to injury, but he's been amazing when he has played. He's second in the league in assists per game (10.8) while also scoring nearly 20 points per outing.
Brandon Roy, Portland — Has done an amazing job helping the Trail Blazers stay competitive considering all the injuries that team has had. He's averaging 23 points per game along with five assists and five rebounds.
Deron Williams, Utah — It would mean the world to D-Will to finally make an All-Star game, especially since it's being played in his hometown. He deserves to be an All-Star, too, with his 19.5 scoring and 9.8 assist average.
LeBron James, Cleveland — He's having another phenomenal all-around season, averaging a league-best 43.7 points plus 7.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game.
Chris Bosh, Toronto — Another 20/10 man — averaging 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Kevin Garnett, Boston — Has missed some time due to injury, but is a key to Boston's success with his play and leadership. Averaging 15 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Gerald Wallace, Charlotte — Not as well known as many of the All-Stars, but he's having a huge season for the Bobcats, averaging 18.2 points and 11.8 rebounds.
Josh Smith, Atlanta — A strong all-around player for one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league.
Dwight Howard, Orlando — Simply the best center in the NBA today, and the stats back it up. He leads the NBA in both rebounding and blocked shots and averages 17 points per game, too.
David Lee, New York — Quietly having a huge season for a team that has been getting better all year — and thus making the first-round draft pick Utah has of theirs less valuable all the time. Averaging 19 points and 11 boards per game.
Dwyane Wade, Miami — Hasn't been quite as good as last year when he won the scoring title, but still averaging 27.1 points per game.
Joe Johnson, Atlanta — He's the Hawks' top scorer (21.1 ppg), but he also passes and rebounds well, averaging five assists and five boards.
Derrick Rose, Chicago — The 2009 Rookie of the Year is not having a sophomore slump, as his 18.8-point and 6-assist averages will attest.
Rajon Rondo, Boston — It used to be "the Big 3" in Boston, but Rondo has turned it into a "Big 4." He's deserving of his first All-Star spot with his conference-best 9.6 assists per game average.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee — His 55-point game early in this, his rookie season, put him on the map. He's tailed off a bit after his fast start, but is still averaging 18.5 points and six assists per game, which puts him at an All-Star level. Plus, he's just fun to watch.