The first part of the All-Star process is rather innocuous, based as much on who has the best commercials, the most street cred or a teammate from China, as it has to do with on-court contributions.
But when it comes to naming the reserves for the All-Star Game, that’s different.
That’s a window into the thinking of the NBA’s 30 coaches (or the minions who get the assignment handed down to them).
Thursday, we got a peek into that window, with the 14 reserves named for the Feb. 14 Challenge the Fire Marshall extravaganza in Dallas.
The common theme?
Winning. None of the 14 reserves come from teams with losing records.
So no Chris Kaman. No David Lee.
And no issue there.
You can't be named an All-Star the day after your team loses to the Nets or in the same week you lose by 50 at home.
And no Monta Ellis.
Again, no issue.
NBA history is replete with second-tier stars scoring boatloads of points for going-nowhere franchises.
But that doesn’t mean that the coaches got it all right.
The Cavaliers, with the league's best record, deserved to have a second All-Star. Yes, Mo Williams is hurt. Fine, select him, then let David Stern clean up the mess, since it's what the commissioner seems to be doing these days.
And for the second spot for the Hawks, the choice here would have been Josh Smith, because he can have a greater impact, or at least a more-dynamic one, than Al Horford.
Out West, a case could be made for Chauncey Billups, the type of player who does all the little things coaches supposedly look for. But it’s not as if a compelling case could be made to dismiss one of the coaches’ choices.
A closer look at the reserves.
Chris Bosh: He should have received the starting nod this season over Kevin Garnett, with the coaches quick to correct that oversight.
Rajon Rondo: He has become the absolute motor of the Celtics. If you can’t contain him, everyone else in Boston’s lineup looks better. He is this season’s best Celtic.
Paul Pierce: Oh, you could make a case for Ray Allen instead, but Allen is not a coach’s nightmare isolated on top as the seconds tick away.
Joe Johnson: A vote of respect for the Hawks guard who might not be a superstar, but who makes a difference just about every time out.
Al Horford: This is a vote for the little stuff, the defense on the pick and roll, the relentless energy expended away from the ball. The stuff coaches notice.
Gerald Wallace: Another vote for the little things that add up. The Bobcat who throws the most fear into the opposition is Stephen Jackson, but his game is not nearly as complete. Plus, Capt. Jack hardly has made life easy for so many brethren in the coaching fraternity.
Derrick Rose: This spot probably would have gone to Mo Williams if the Cavaliers guard would have spent another week healthy. At least Rose had the courtesy to get the Bulls back to .500 the day the reserves were named. And a more logical choice than teammate Joakim Noah, since scoring still matters.
Chris Paul: Like the standings themselves, a product of Western Conference superiority who has to settle for scraps. He would start in the East. Always.
Pau Gasol: Anyone who argues for Andrew Bynum, instead, hasn’t taken notice of the Lakers’ record in the games when Gasol is available. And Los Angeles’ recent struggles, coupled with the depth of talent in the West, leaves no room for three Lakers All-Stars.
Kevin Durant: The time almost is at hand when he inherits a Kobe-like permanent seat at the starters’ table.
Dirk Nowitzki: Booted from that starters’ table this season because the glut of top-tier forwards in the West.
Zach Randolph: His revival is almost as remarkable as what is happening overall in Memphis, perhaps even more so. He probably stands as the first-ever Clippers and Knicks (modern era) reject to reach this level. All of the stats; none of the previous drama.
Brandon Roy: The Western Conference’s version of Dwyane Wade deserves the distinction.
Deron Williams: The comparisons to Paul have died down, so, to some, has his automatic candidacy. This could have been Billups’ spot, or even Aaron Brooks’ spot, but the Jazz deserve representation.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.