During the offseason, Nets management assembled a roster loaded with All-Star experience. Twelve All-Star appearances, to be exact.
But the player who deserves to go to the game is the one who has never been.
Brook Lopez has enjoyed the kind of year that should garner a spot in the All-Star game. He does not boast the resumes that Deron Williams and Joe Johnson do, with the pair combining to play in nine All-Star games. In fact, the offseason fanfare centered around Williams and Johnson but neither has played at an elite level.
The starting center, who inked a max contract that will keep him in Brooklyn for four years, has posted 18.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg in the Nets' 23-16 start to the 2012-13 season. It's also no coincidence that his foot injury kept him out of an early December stretch in which the team's struggles led to Avery Johnson's dismissal.
Lopez currently leads all centers in scoring. That statistic encompasses both conferences, not just the Eastern Conference team for which he would play. He's also outscoring once-prized target Dwight Howard by 0.8 ppg and outshoots him 74.5 percent to 50.6 percent at the free-throw line.
Unfortunately for Lopez, the All-Star game is primarily a popularity contest rather than an acknowledgement of one's season. Despite posting better numbers across the board than Garnett, the Boston Celtic was voted into the game for the 15th time by NBA fans.
“I think Brook has been an All-Star since he’s been in the league,” Gerald Wallace told the Daily News' Stefan Bondy. “I just think except for him having injuries and missing games, he’s always been efficient and talented... He might be the only dominant center that’s 7-foot and can do the things that he does.”
Wallace is one of the other two Nets with All-Star game experience. The forward played in the 2010 games while Jerry Stackhouse has played in the event twice.
The league's decision to remove the center position from the ballot also hurts Lopez's chances. This allowed Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, and Garnett to all receive nods as frontcourt players. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo were also voted Eastern Conference starters by the fans.
Lopez will go against other frontcourt players as opposed to other centers. The NBA will announce the complete All-Star rosters on Jan. 24.
The game will take place Feb. 17 in Houston at the Toyota Center.