Yes, the NBA All-Star voting is obviously a popularity contest, and now that the NBA has announced the final tally for the elected starters for this year's game in New Orleans, it's time to bust out my own picks to round out both teams.
But before all of that, a quick glance over the results shows that LeBron James reigned "King" in fans' eyes and led all vote-getters with 1,416,419 votes, while current MVP frontrunner Kevin Durant came in at second with 1,396,294.
Pacers swingman, Paul George, who is having the best season so far in his budding superstar career, came in third with 1,211,318 votes, while the Bay Area Warriors' Stephen Curry enjoyed a late surge in votes to finish with 1,027,281 votes and leapfrog the currently injured Chris Paul as the other Western Conference starting guard.
Not heeding his own plea, fans still voted Kobe Bryant to the game with 988,884 votes, while Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving rounded up the East with 935,702, 929,542 and 860,221 votes respectively. Blake Griffin had 688,466 votes, while Kevin Love voters rallied late as well to make him a starter with 661,246 total votes.
Here are my All-Star reserve selections ahead of the NBA coaches' selections to be announced on Thursday next week, Jan. 30. The format suggests to have two backcourt reserves, three frontcourt and two wild card spots.
Center: Roy Hibbert / Pacers - frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year honors as the anchor of the league's best team; easy pick.
Center / Power Forward: Joakim Noah / Bulls - has battled pain and injury to keep the injury-plagued Bulls competitive and in the playoff hunt in the East with averages of 11.7 points and 11.4 rebounds.
Forward: Chris Bosh / Heat - one-third of the Heat's Big 3, Bosh has stepped up and shown flashes of his dominant form back when he was the lone ranger for the Raptors.
Guard: Lance Stephenson / Pacers - mercurial guard who has been the x-factor for the Pacers this season and leads the league in triple-doubles and all guards in rebounding.
Guard: John Wall / Wizards - has bounced back from injury and evolved and refined his game to lead the Wizards over .500 this season and a realistic chance of making the postseason for the first time under his watch; can let loose and dazzle with the best of them in exhibition games like the ASG.
Wild Card: Demar DeRozan / Raptors - emerging young star averaging almost 22 points per, five rebounds and four assists for the Atlantic Division leaders; has elevated his game after Rudy Gay trade.
Wild Card: Paul Millsap / Hawks - steps in for the injured Al Horford as he has done so for the solid Hawks this season; averaging almost 18 points per, to go with 8.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.7 steals and 2.9 assists, he's been "Mr. Reliable" for the third-best team in the East.
Outside looking in: Aaron Afflalo (having a career-year, but Magic simply not winning enough), Kyle Lowry, Andre Drummond (he has a lot of potential and is a young future star, but he hasn't played well enough this season to earn a spot IMO), Jeff Teague, David West, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson.
Damian Lillard gets my nod to replace the injured and "undeserving" (he said it himself) Kobe Bryant as the other starting guard by virtue of his superb clutch play and floor generalship of the surprising Blazers, who are easily one of the top 3 teams in the West at the moment. "Dame" is averaging 21 points per game, almost six assists and four rebounds while shooting it from beyond the arc at a 43% accuracy for the 32-11 Blazers.
Power Forward: LaMarcus Aldridge - having a career-year and is among the short list of MVP candidate this year; easy pick.
Center: Dwight Howard / Rockets - love him or hate him, Howard is a force in the paint and is having a good year despite constant criticism he receives from all angles.
Center / Power Forward: Tim Duncan / Spurs - can't snub a legend who is still leading his team to the best record in the conference and playing at a very high level; numbers don't lie for this future Hall of Famer with 14.5 points per, almost 10 rebounds, two blocks and three assists.
Guard: Chris Paul / Clippers - said he intends to play and will be healthy for ASG; easily the best true point guard in the game when healthy.
Guard: James Harden / Rockets - arguably the best shooting guard in the game right now; easy pick.
Wild Card: Dirk Nowitzki / Mavs - another future HOFer who is still balling and leading his team to the playoffs; 21 points per, six rebounds, three assists for the former MVP.
Wild Card: Tony Parker / Spurs - best player for the best team in the West.
Outside looking in: Anthony Davis (definitely deserves it, but I went with the HOFers as Davis will have more years to get to ASG), Goran Dragic, David Lee, DeMarcus Cousins, Monta Ellis, Serge Ibaka.
Let me know your thoughts and picks!
Dennis is on Twitter @dRealSource.