Predicting the West Starters & Reserves for the 2018 All-Star Game
With all the moves (free agency signings and trades) that were made this past summer, many predicted the Western Conference to be packed but it's more or less been the same.
A two-horse race (Houston Rockets & Golden State Warriors), the Spurs being the Spurs, the Timberwolves & Thunder starting slow but eventually finding their way. Basically, around six-seven strong teams followed by the middle of the pack .500 teams struggling to make the Playoffs. Then comes the bottom - the non-Playoff teams and the ones that are tanking.
To a certain degree, it was easier and more difficult to make the picks for the West as compared to the East. The Conference is so stacked in terms of talent but at the same time, there are multiple no-brainers that make the prediction process easier.
Catch the predictions for the Eastern Conference All-Stars here.
West Starting Backcourt
James Harden - Houston Rockets
Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
His MVP stock might have dipped with the Rockets' current 5-game losing streak but James Harden is still among the best players in the league right now and an MVP candidate. He's putting up insane numbers (some even better than his historic season last year) - 32.1 points (leads the league & career-high), 9.0 assists (3rd in the league), 5.1 rebounds on 44.9% shooting, 39.0% shooting from 3's and a career-high FT% of 87.0. Also, he leads the league in Win Shares, Win Shares Per 48 Minutes and Offensive Box Plus/Minus.
On the other hand, the reigning MVP could be gearing up for his first ever All-Star start. Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder had a rough start to the season but have had a fantastic month of December. Through 35 games, Westbrook is averaging a near triple-double 24.5 points, 10.0 assists (leads the league) and 9.5 rebounds while recording 11 triple-doubles. He's been key to the team's recent resurgence of winning 12 of their last 17 games, which includes a 6-game win streak.