Friday, February 10, 2012
Six first-time All-Stars headed to Orlando
By Ernest Tolden, ESPN Stats & Info
A look at the six players making their first All-Star Game appearance this season.
• Luol Deng, who is averaging 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, is one of two All-Stars from the Chicago Bulls. Deng has been arguably the most valuable defender on one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
When Deng is on the court, the Bulls are allowing just 90.9 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off the floor, that number jumps to 99.9 and opponents are shooting almost three percentage points better from the field.
• At 18-8, the Philadelphia 76ers are off to their best 26-game start since the 2000-01 season, a year they went to the NBA Finals. A large part of their success this season has been due to the play of Andre Iguodala, who is averaging career highs in 3-point percentage (39.0) and rebounds (6.7).
Iguodala has been most productive in transition this season where he’s collected 86 points, the most he’s recorded among all play types.
• In his fourth season, Roy Hibbert has blossomed into one of the best young centers in the NBA. He’s averaging career highs in points (13.6), rebounds (9.9) and field goal percentage (50.9). Hibbert’s biggest improvement has been in the post.
• Andrew Bynum is averaging careers highs in points (17.1) and rebounds (12.6), and is one of only three players in the NBA averaging at least 17 points and 12 rebounds this season. Bynum has done his damage close to the basket; his 5.5 field goals per game inside five feet are second in the NBA only to his All-Star teammate Blake Griffin (6.1).
• LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging a career-high 23.3 points per game, fifth in the NBA. He’s been dominant in the halfcourt offense where he’s scored 564 points this season, second behind only Kobe Bryant.
• Despite older brother Pau being left off the team, little brother Marc Gasol will be a Western Conference reserve as the only All-Star from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol has established himself as one of the elite post defenders in the NBA; he’s averaging a career-high 2.2 blocks per game (fourth in the NBA), and among players who’ve defended at least 50 post-up plays, he’s allowing the third-fewest points per play this season (0.58).