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posted: 1/26/2014 9:39 PM

With no all-star centers, does Bulls' Noah have a shot?

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  • Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks against Charlotte's Gerald Henderson during the second half of Saturday's game. The Bulls won 89-87.

      Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks against Charlotte's Gerald Henderson during the second half of Saturday's game. The Bulls won 89-87.
    Associated Press

  • Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after a dunk against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half of Saturday's game. The Bulls won 89-87.

      Bulls center Joakim Noah celebrates after a dunk against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half of Saturday's game. The Bulls won 89-87.
    Associated Press

 
 

For years, NBA fans complained about having to vote for one center as an all-star starter.

The league changed the ballot to include three frontcourt players instead of two forwards and a center, but not everyone is happy about it.

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Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey jumped on Twitter and compared the all-star lineup to Iowa girls basketball, after his big addition, Dwight Howard, was edged out of a starting spot by Kevin Love.

"Offense only and only guards and forwards," wrote Morey, who may or may not know that Iowa scrapped 6-on-6 girls high school hoops years ago.

Obviously, some centers need to make the all-star teams. If the Bulls are going to get an all-star representative, center Joakim Noah is the obvious candidate.

Noah made the all-star team last year for the first time but is no lock to keep the streak alive when the reserves are announced Thursday.

Noah has been playing well lately, but his slow start to the season left him with overall numbers that may not be all-star caliber. Through Saturday, Noah was averaging 11.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He ranks seventh in the league in rebounds and has pulled down double-digit boards in 16 straight games.

He will get some support from coaches who appreciate his style of play. Doc Rivers will vote for Western Conference reserves after moving from Boston to the Los Angeles Clippers, but he made a case for Noah before facing the Bulls on Friday.

"He's a joy to watch because he plays with the joy you wish every player, every kid, played with," Rivers said. "Now when you factor him and Thibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) together, I think that makes a dynamic duo of intensity. To me, everyone else has to follow suit on that team, and they do."

For the all-star lineups to be completely fair, there would need to be 20 players from the Western Conference and maybe four from the East. But since it has to be 12 and 12, here's a forecast of what will happen:

•The East starters are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving. Since Indiana and Miami are the standout teams, each one should get three representatives. So count on Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert and either Lance Stephenson or David West to grab three of the reserve spots for the East.

•Washington guard John Wall (20 points, 8.5 assists) is going to make it this year. Without Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo, he qualifies as the next-best point guard on the list.

•Team success is usually a vital prerequisite for being voted a reserve. So count on someone making it from Atlanta, the No. 3 team in the standings. Forward Paul Millsap (17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds) is likely to be the guy, but guard Jeff Teague (16.2 points, 7.3 assists) has a chance.

Another likely pick is Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan (21.8 ppg). Due to the team success qualifier, Orlando's Arron Afflalo (20.3 ppg) and Philadelphia's Evan Turner (18.5 ppg) probably are off the list.

•So that leaves a likely reserve corps of Bosh, Hibbert, Stephenson, Wall, Millsap and DeRozan, with one spot available. Noah could be that guy, but Detroit's second-year center Andre Drummond has a stronger stat line with 12.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks.

TNT had its analysts pick their East reserves, and only two of the five chose Noah. One other player who got support was Brooklyn's Joe Johnson (16.1 ppg), who has become one of the league's best late-game shooters.

So that's how it shapes up. Six likely subs, with the last spot between Noah, Drummond and Johnson. The Bulls have a better record than the Pistons or Nets, so that might help his cause.

In the West, the starters are Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Love. Bryant most likely will be replaced, so there's a need for eight subs.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Damien Lillard, James Harden and Dwight Howard -- two Blazers and two Rockets -- are locks, along with Dirk Nowitzki. Someone from the Spurs has to make it, probably Tony Parker. Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook are coming off injuries. If they're out, Phoenix's Goran Dragic deserves a nod, and the last spot could go to Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, whose numbers are good enough (22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds) to offset the Kings' poor record.

mmcgraw@dailyherald.com

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