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Eastern Conference Starters

February 15, 2004|Elliott Teaford

The only man capable of knocking hockey off the front pages of Canadian sports sections in winter. Doesn't quite soar as he used to, when they called him "Air Canada," but that means the other parts of his game are more well-rounded.

*--* VINCE CARTER, TORONTO Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast F 6-6 225 21.2 4.7 4.8

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*--* JERMAINE O'NEAL, INDIANA Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast F 6-11 242 20.3 10.4 2.0

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The only player in the Eastern Conference last season to average better than 20 points and 10 rebounds. On track to do it again, which helps to explain his selection as an All-Star starter. Fans tend to notice that kind of stuff.

*--* ALLEN IVERSON, PHILADELPHIA Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast G 6-0 165 27.4 3.9 6.3

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Playing on a bad team that fired its coach days before the All-Star game, but playing with the same gusto he always has despite the 76ers' poor record. MVP of the 2001 All-Star game. Averaged 26 points or more six years in a row.

*--* TRACY McGRADY, ORLANDO Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast G 6-8 210 27.2 5.9 5.6

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Speaking of great players on bad teams, McGrady soldiers on even though the Magic looks as if it has given up. McGrady is a pleasure to watch in the worst of times and should be a real treat in the best of times, such as the All-Star game.

*--* BEN WALLACE, DETROIT Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast C 6-8 240 9.7 13.2 1.9

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Finally getting his due as one of the game's greatest rebounders. Career average now above 10 a game. Selection as a starter says a good deal about the fans' knowledge of the game. Either that or they like his lofty hairstyle.

*--* EASTERN CONFERENCE RESERVES

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*--* RON ARTEST, INDIANA Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast F 6-7 246 18.1 5.3 3.9

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Keeping his temper in check and having his best season, averaging two points better than previous career high. Hasn't thrown a TV monitor all season, which probably has something to do with selection to his first All-Star game.

*--* BARON DAVIS, NEW ORLEANS Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast G 6-3 223 23.0 4.2 7.8

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His scoring is up and so are his assists over last season. Some would say he's the league's best combination of point and shooting guard. Imagine where the Clippers might be if they had traded for him rather than another local, Andre Miller.

*--* JASON KIDD, NEW JERSEY Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast G 6-4 212 16.9 6.6 9.6

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Could be the best pure point guard in the league today. Led the Nets to the Eastern Conference championship the last two years, then led the charge to dump Byron Scott as coach, proving he's worth more to Nets than anyone else at Exit 16W.

*--* JAMAAL MAGLOIRE, NEW ORLEANS Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast C 6-11 259 12.1 9.4 1.3

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You'd know him if you lived in New Orleans and cheered for the Hornets, although that could be open to debate. Serves as Mr. Inside to Davis' Mr. Outside. Not a big scorer but could be headed for double-digit rebound average.

*--* KENYON MARTIN, NEW JERSEY Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast F 6-9 234 17.9 9.8 2.6

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Plays the power forward position with the emphasis on "power." More effective as he's gained maturity. Doesn't have the outside shooting touch of others at his position, but on track for career-best averages in points and rebounds.

*--* PAUL PIERCE, BOSTON Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast F 6-6 230 23.0 6.6 5.2

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Only reason to watch Celtics these days is to see what kind of game he has, which is a pity. Deserves better. Scoring and rebounding are down from last season, which is another reflection on how things have gone to pot in Boston.

*--* MICHAEL REDD, MILWAUKEE Pos Ht Wt Pts Reb Ast G 6-6 215 21.9 5.2 2.2

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Averaging almost seven points better than last season. Rebounding and assists are up too. Keeping the Bucks' heads above water didn't figure to be an easy job, but Redd is helping to get it done. Nice fit on a team without an identity.

-- Elliott Teaford

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