Monday , Jan , 26 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Points in the Paint

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The 2004 NBA All-Star Game is quickly
approaching. The game will be played on Sunday, February 15 at the Staples
Center in Los Angeles.

The league is scheduled to announce the starters for the Eastern Conference
and the Western Conference on Thursday, January 29. Following the completion
of fan voting and starting line-up announcement, the head coaches in each
conference will vote to determine the remaining All-Stars in their respective
conferences.

It is pretty safe to say that Sacramento’s Brad Miller and Minnesota’s Sam
Cassell and Latrell Sprewell will not be voted to the Western Conference’s
squad as starters. However, these three players are all deserving enough to be
awarded spots as reserves.

Here is why Cassell, Miller and Sprewell should all be on the court at the
Staples Center on February 15.

SAM CASSELL – The 34-year-old Cassell, who has never played in an NBA All-Star
game, is playing in his first season in Minnesota. On June 27, 2003, Cassell
was traded by the Milwaukee Bucks along with center Ervin Johnson to the
Timberwolves for Joe Smith and Anthony Peeler.

After 42 games this season, Cassell, who has started every game for Minnesota
this season, is averaging a career-best 21.1 points, which is second on the
team behind All-Star forward Kevin Garnett. The point guard also leads the
Timberwolves, who are currently in first place in the Midwest Division, in
assists with 7.4 per game.

With Troy Hudson, who also plays the point, injured most of the season,
Cassell has played 39 minutes per night. He has registered 10 double-doubles
and has scored in double digits in 39 games this season.

In the 2003 postseason, the Timberwolves were eliminated from the first round
of the playoffs for the seventh straight season. In the offseason, Minnesota
did a makeover of its team through trades. Cassell was the first piece of the
puzzle to arrive and he has not disappointed.

Cassell is not a big name like Kobe Bryant or Steve Francis, but he has been a
consistent performer this season and is a big reason why Minnesota is a power
in the Western Conference and should be able to advance past the first round
of the playoffs for the first time in the history of the franchise. He is
absolutely deserving of a spot as a reserve on the Western Conference’s All-
Star team.

BRAD MILLER – Acquired by Sacramento from the Indiana Pacers as part of a
three-team trade during the offseason, Miller has been very productive in his
first season for the Kings.

With Chris Webber injured, the 27-year-old Miller, who has appeared in one
All-Star game over his career, has played both center and power forward for
the Pacific Division leading Kings this season. He is third on the team in
scoring (14.4 ppg), leads the club in rebounding (10.7 rpg) and is third on
the team in assists (4.7 apg).

Miller, who played 73 games for the Pacers last season, was a member of the
Eastern Conference squad in 2003. In his first All-Star appearance, he had a
bench-high six rebounds to go along with five points and three assists for the
East.

Without Miller, the Kings most likely would not be enjoying their current
success. Playing 38 minutes per night, the former Bull, Hornet and Pacer
recorded his first- career triple-double this season on November 21, 2003
against Orlando and then earned his second 16 days later against Indiana.
Miller has registered double digits in scoring in 33 games and has had 10 or
more rebounds in 24 games this season.

Sacramento acquired the versatile Miller to help make them stronger down low
and to add depth to its already loaded roster. The forward/center, who has had
to raise his game with the absence of Webber, has earned a spot as a reserve
on the Western Conference squad.

LATRELL SPREWELL – A four-time All-Star (1994, 1995, 1997, 2001), the 33-year-
old Sprewell was acquired by Minnesota from the New York Knicks as part of a
four-team deal on July 23, 2003.

Sprewell is having an awesome year for the Timberwolves. He is averaging 17.9
points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Along with Cassell and Garnett, Sprewell
helps makeup one of the most feared threesomes in the league.

The former Warrior and Knick is playing 39 minutes per night and has fit right
in his new surroundings. Originally selected out of Alabama by Golden State in
the first round (24th pick overall) of the 1992 NBA Draft, Sprewell has scored
in double digits in 32 games this season.

The only thing that could keep Sprewell out of the All-Star game would be if
the coaches don’t want three players from one team on the Western Conference
roster. Garnett is expected to make the squad as a starter and there should be
no denying Cassell this year.

NOTABLE

When he was a member of the Bucks, Cassell should have arguably made the
Eastern Conference All-Star squad as reserve in 2000 and 2001. However,
Milwaukee was represented by guard Ray Allen and forward Glenn Robinson both
years. Hopefully this will not happen to Cassell for a third time.