The Milwaukee Bucks have the second longest NBA All-Star drought out of any team in the league, and they’re a Monta Ellis selection away from taking that top spot away from the Golden State Warriors.
The Bucks have not had an All-Star representative since Michael Redd in 2004, and although center Andrew Bogut isn’t playing at his 2009-10 pre-All-Star Break offensive best, he has the highest chance of making the 2010-11 Eastern Conference All-Star team.
All-star games in any sport are certainly filled with flaws and irrelevance. NFL Pro Bowlers are selected mostly based on reputation, and MLB and NBA All-Star starters are chosen by popular demand regardless of what statistics and importance to team success may tell you.
But unlike the MLB All-Star Game, where managers like Charlie Manuel can load rosters with their own players, the NBA All-Star reserves are elected by players and coaches who have played each other at least once at the halfway point of the season (for the most part).
Considering last year’s Eastern Conference All-Star team had three centers on the roster (starter Dwight Howard, Al Horford, David Lee), it’s safe to assume the same will probably happen this year. Howard can already be penciled in as the starter, and Al Horford will probably make the trip to Los Angeles.
Statistically, Andrew Bogut holds the edge over Al Horford in only rebounds (11.1 to 9.6) and blocks (an NBA leading 2.85) per game. Otherwise, Horford has put up a superior Player Efficiency Rating, shooting percentage, points average, and more double-doubles on a better Atlanta Hawks team.
Unless Amare Stoudemire is taken on the team as a power forward/center combination (similar to Lee last year), Bogut is the only other true center in the Eastern Conference putting up respectably numbers, and could very well snap the Bucks’ six year All-Star drought.
You could make a strong argument that Andrew Bogut is the best defensive center in the Eastern Conference and maybe the NBA as a whole because of his block-to-basket conversion rate and a few other factors covered well by Frank Madden at Brew Hoop. That could be more than enough to push Bogut onto the All-Star roster, but an offensive burst over the next month from the Aussie would make it a virtual guarantee.
In addition to missing five games earlier this year with back spasms, Bogut has gone four straight games without a double-double. Obviously, the Bucks’ brutal schedule since Brandon Jennings’ ankle injury is well documented, but a borderline All-Star like Andrew Bogut shouldn’t be given a free pass against quality competition. That’s certainly not what Bogut or the rest of the Bucks expect from themselves as a team.
The thin center competition in the Eastern Conference may offset some of those potential concerns, and the fact is that he’s easily the second best pure center in the Eastern Conference. If someone outside the league’s inner circle (like me) can see that, there’s no doubt the players and coaches that make the NBA go round know Andrew Bogut’s talent.
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