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Home - Men to Watch in the All Star Game

  Men to Watch in the All Star Game

The NBA all-star game is due to be staged at Madison Square Garden on February 15th. Taking place two months before the end of the NBA season, it would be easy to dismiss the game as an unwanted distraction for the league's best players but it is seen by very few in this light.

Instead, the all-star game is viewed as a platform upon which the world's best players are able to compete with each other and to show what they are made of on the biggest stage. With representatives from across the continent taking to the court, the game attracts a huge global TV audience and sees fans from the Eastern and Western conferences come together to support their team.

Making Amends

The 2014 all-star game was held in New Orleans and was won 163-155 by the Eastern Conference - their first win in four years. Having been defeated on their own patch, the Western Conference will be desperate to make amends this time around and they will be well fancied in the betfair odds if they name a strong starting line-up. As is customary in the all-star game, the three frontcourt players and two guards from each team are selected by a fans vote.

The rest are selected by the head coaches from the teams making up each of the respective conferences. With less than a month until the big game, we take a look at some of the players who will be looking to secure a vote from the fans and to make a big impression on the night.

Western Conference - Frontcourt

In the frontcourt, New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis has had an excellent season, amassing 894 points in his first 37 appearances and recording a field goal percentage of 0.56. The 21-year-old's achievements this year have been made all the more remarkable by New Orleans' poor season. The fact that he has been so outstanding in a team currently sat bottom of the Southwestern division shows his ability and his potential value to the Western Conference.

Having been selected as first pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Davis made his first all-star appearance last year when he came in to the squad as a late replacement for the injured Kobe Bryant. Having been overlooked by the fans last year, and then come in as a coach's replacement only to lose the game and spend less than 10 minutes on court, he will be desperate to show what he can do this time round.

Western Conference - Backcourt

There are few bigger names in the sport than LA Lakers Shooting Guard Kobe Bryant. At 36 years old, and currently in his 19th season in the NBA having initially been drafted to the Lakers in 1996, there has been some talk of the backcourt legend retiring from the sport. But fans will be desperate to see him in action in the all-star game again in February. Bryant has been in good form this season, scoring 768 points in his first 34 games and recording a success rate of 81.3% from the free throw line.

Like Davis, Bryant is playing in a team performing below their ability - the Lakers are currently propping up the Pacific Division - and could well be the Lakers’ only representative in New York. Having being voted into the all start starting line-up 16 times, but only actually appearing in six contests due to a series of injuries, Bryant will be desperate to secure another starting position in 2015 and will surely take his chance with both hands.

los angeles lakers
Eastern Conference - Frontcourt

Spaniard Pau Gasol is a well-travelled NBA veteran who is currently in his 15th season in the US, having initially been drafted in 2001 by the Memphis Grizzlies following a successful spell with Barcelona. The 34-year-old power forward remained with the Grizzlies until 2008 when he was traded to the LA Lakers. At the end of last season he was traded yet again and is currently sat top of the Central division with the Chicago Bulls. Gasol has made four all-star appearances but has not been seen in the big game since 2011 when the Western Conference won in LA.

This season the 7ft European has enjoyed a new lease of life and has returned to the top of his game, recording 749 points in his first 40 appearances of the season, as well as registering an average of 11.4 rebounds per game. That is the sixth-best record in the whole of the NBA. Unlike Bryant, Pau Gasol will not receive fans’ votes on reputation alone. If he is selected in the starting line-up then he will deserve his call and will make the most of the opportunity.

Eastern Conference - Backcourt

John Wall, 24, has enjoyed an impressive start to this season with the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are currently second in the Southeast division behind Atlanta, and Wall has been central to their rise up the table. In his first 42 games of the season, the former University of Kentucky man who was drafted in 2010, has made an average of 2.05 steals per game (the third best record in the NBA) and has recorded an average of 10 assists per game, putting him top of the stats across the NBA. Wall made his all-star game debut last year having been selected as a coach's pick and named amongst the replacements.

In 2014 Wall appeared on court for just over 15 minutes, recording 12 points during his time in the middle. This year he will be desperate to impress the fans enough to secure a starting berth and to be given enough court time to make a real impression. If the Wizards fans vote in enough numbers and the rest of the Eastern Conference supporters vote with their heads, rather than their hearts, then Wall will surely have a big part to play on the big night in New York.

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