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2014 NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals All-Stars

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Apr 4, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward

Kevin Durant

(35) handles the ball against San Antonio Spurs forward

Tim Duncan

(21) in the first half in Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Four teams remain through these 2014 NBA Playoffs: the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder in the West, and the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers in the East.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are all well-known All-Stars (and Lance Stephensonone of the all-time biggest snubs). Also included are the last two MVP winners (James and Durant) and numerous NBA Finals appearances (James, Wade, Bosh, Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Durant and Westbrook).

If we put together an All-Star team of players that have made it to the Conference Finals this year, we will have quite a formidable starting five. Lets take a look at the best five we can put together.

Keep in mind, that these aren’t necessarily the five players who have had the best postseasons so far, they are the five players who would properly fit together to make the best team possible. These two things are not always the same!

Check out the last page to vote on how many of these I got right!

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Point Guard

Apr 3, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It really comes down to two players for the PG spot: Tony Parker vs. Russell Westbrook.

Parker represents the cool, calm and controlled dynamic who will give you a solid 20 and six every night that you need it with good shooting percentages but below-average defence. He rarely goes off for 30 or more points, but also rarely has an off-night performance-wise (sometimes his stats are down because his minutes are low, but rarely because his performance is poor).

Russell Westbrook is pretty much the exact opposite.

He is a force of nature who on some nights, can outshine his MVP teammate, Kevin Durant and put up triple doubles like nobody’s business. On other nights he can make OKC’s third-string point guard (Derek Fisher) look like an MVP candidate in comparison. Russell has a habit of forcing bad shots early in the shot clock, and trying to over-do things usually because of his drive to win and self-confidence. Often, because he is so talented it works out (this is when he has great nights). The rest of the time he actually hurts his team. So while OKC are definitely a better team with Westbrook, he does cost them some games.

This Conference Finals All-Star team doesn’t need flashy and explosive from it’s point guard because of the players it has in some of the other positions (like you don’t know who thats going to be…). For this reason, Tony Parker is going to be our PG this time, mostly due to his fit with the team, and his veteran poise.

Decision: Tony Parker

Shooting Guard

May 13, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) warms up prior to action against the Los Angeles Clippers in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Were going to go back to the Seattle Supersonic days for this pick and chose Kevin Durant despite PJ Carlesimo’s debacle. When KD played under P.J. Carlesimo he was often played out of position at the 2-guard despite not being the all-world shooter he is now (29 percent three-point shooter as a rookie). Given the incredible improvement he has made since then, culminating in an MVP trophy this year, I am confident that he would succeed as an over-sized SG in this All-Star team.

As incredible as it seems, on this team Durant would be most valuable in his ability to space the floor. With incredible shooting ability now (joined the 50/40/90 club last year, and almost repeated himself this year) and much improved passing skills (career high 5.5 per game this season), Durant would be a huge threat when he receives the ball while the defence is recovering.

There are no great shooting guards still playing anymore (I don’t trust Dwyane Wade anymore, or his knees), and a slightly out of position Durant is better than anything anyone else can offer.

Decision: Kevin Durant

Small Forward

May 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts after defeating the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James.

Do I have to say anymore? Despite relinquishing his MVP crown this season, LeBron remains the best player in the game when he wants to be. He’s better at his worst skill, than most NBA players are at their best. He can play all five positions on the court, and has done so before in one game. He will play point forward for our aAll-Star team, and no one will argue.

Can you imagine his pick and rolls with Kevin Durant? There is no way their two primary defenders would be able to contain them, so they would absolutely demand the undivided attention of at least one other player. That would leave a teammate open, and with the dishing ability of both James and Durant, they would absolutely find the right pass.

I think Sports VU and the advance metric community would explode at the offensive efficiency of these two playing together, as they complement each other about as well as any other two wings in the game.

Many of these picks could be argued, but if you disagree with LeBron being in the team, well you are just wrong and need to get your head checked.

Decision: LeBron James (Duh)

Power Forward

Jun 6, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward

Serge Ibaka

(9) during the second half in game six of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This is where it gets trickier. Do we want all around fundamentals (Tim Duncan), or someone who can block shots, stretch the floor and dunk the hell out of the ball (Serge Ibaka)? Again the Spurs player and Thunder player challenge each other for a position, and again they couldn’t be more different.

Ibaka has developed into a great shooter from the midrange, and even the long range (38 percent from deep, albeit on less than 1 shot per game). Even though he is out of the rest of the playoffs, much to the delight of Spurs fans, in our hypothetical team he is healthy and thriving. His spacing ability would fit the team well, and he would be a great defensive and shot-altering force incase someone got past the perimeter players (well in case someone got past Tony Parker… If LeBron and Durant are locked in, no one is getting past them).

Duncan would provide more leadership (probably not needed on this team), an offensive weapon in his post game and more great passing from the big man position… and thats before we talk about his defensive impact. Duncan has made 14 All-Defense teams in his NBA career, including eight First-Team appearances. Incredibly he has never won a Defensive Player of the Year award, despite clearly being the anchor for one of the best defensive teams in the NBA over the last decade. Maybe because he lacks the explosive into-the-crowd blocks that Dwight Howard and Ibaka do on a nightly basis, but his blocks generally go to a teammate or himself allowing the Spurs to run a fast break.

Despite all of this, in today’s NBA game, Ibaka’s floor-spacing ability would be more effective on this All-Star team, as would his ability to run the floor and get out in transition (which is not longer a part of Old Man Duncan’s game).

Decision: Serge Ibaka

Note: I just don’t like Chris Bosh, so I’m not considering him.

Center

Mar 31, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA;San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) battles for position with Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) during the third quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Spurs won 103-77. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

For all of the reasons I listed on the last slide, Tim Duncan gets this spot. With Duncan and Ibaka anchoring the defence, and Durant and James patrolling the perimeter, no one is scoring on this team. It’s like a better version of Indiana on D, but with a record setting offence.

I did consider Roy Hibbert for this spot, but he has been too inconsistent since the All-Star break. I don’t know if he got full of himself after his first All-Star selection, or if he just forgot how to do his patented “verticality” shtick, but there is no way the Atlanta Hawks should have taken the Pacers to an elimination game. Hibbert is a great player, but his skill set is just unnecessary in this team, and his greatest weakness (passing) is what makes All-Star teams fun.

Decision: Tim Duncan

How Many Of My "All-Stars" Do You Agree With?

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