30Q asks the important questions about the Kings all through September.
The Kings figure to, for the first time since 2004, have representation at All-Star Weekend in Dallas this February. If you could bet on whether Tyreke Evans makes the Rookie Challenge game, I would advise you to take that bet. Evans is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year ... and early favorites for Rookie of the Year, provided they don't Morrison it up, typically get picked for the game.
But we're all a bit more concerned about another potential berth: Kevin Martin in the big show. I first talked All-Star with Martin back in 2007, when Ray Allen got traded to Boston. Martin, who was entering his second season as a starter, demurred, saying that he hadn't thought about it, but if the team was successful he, Ron Artest and Mike Bibby would get All-Star attention.
The team was not successful, of course. Neither was the 2008-09, in which Martin missed nearly all of December with an injury that ruined his season. Had Martin missed no games before the selection process, one could imagine he would have gotten the nod over David West, an iffy selection by the Western coaches.
So what about this season?
Here are 2008-09 Western All-Stars who are locks to return to the All-Star Game, assuming no major injuries:
Here are 2008-09 Western All-Star veterans I would not bet against in 2009-10:
That's six fairly sure things. And now, preliminary candidates whose chances I would rate higher than Martin's:
- Chauncey Billups
- Amare Stoudemire
- Carmelo Anthony
- Deron Williams
- Kevin Durant
- Al Jefferson
- Tony Parker
- Pau Gasol
Now we're up to 14. I think it's fair to slot Martin here -- he's a step ahead of (or at the top of) the tier which contains Nene, Jason Kidd, Ron Artest, Luis Scola, Carlos Boozer, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, assorted others I'm surely forgetting. There's also the substantial possibility that Yao Ming is elected as a starter despite sitting the season out.
This is mixed news. Martin is certainly in the mix, given that a few stars suffer maladies at the start of every season. But there's heavy competition, and the odds are (again) stacked against him. It's a bit unfortunate (inasmuch as All-Star status actually matters), because Martin is the No. 3 shooting guard in the entire conference, and perhaps No. 5 or No. 6 in the league. But there continues to be a wealth of elite point guards and power forwards out West, and positionality isn't a huge concern in an exhibition, obviously.
So we'll need those fingers for crossing. Martin deserves the recognition that comes with All-Star status, and I hope he gets it this season.