NBA All-Star balloting begins: Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris represent the Phoenix Suns on the ballot

Alright Suns fans. Time to advocate for your favorite Suns to be included in the 2014 NBA All-Star game hosted by Pierre the Pelican.

I'm going to start with Eric Bledsoe because he's the only player on the roster that I think has any chance of making the roster (as a reserve).

Eric Bledsoe has gone supernova so far this season and people have noticed.  The Suns have earned some notoriety for their inspired play and he deserves a lot of credit for that.  The problem is that while basketball aficionados know his name, the casual fan that makes up the majority of the voting base doesn't.  That same voting base that might vote for dead people if they were on the ballot...

Bledsoe's biggest problem is the depth at the guard spots in the Western Conference.  Kobe Bryant (if he can limp onto the court), Chris Paul, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker should be locks. Then you go to Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, etc.  These are the guys that Bledsoe would have to beat out.  That's a tall task.  But if Beldsoe can continue to post numbers like 21 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals a game while keeping the Suns in the playoff picture it's not completely impossible.

This leads me to one strategy that I'd prescribe and another that I'd proscribe.

Do vote for (especially) Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic .  Don't vote for the bubble players at the guard spots in the West.

Goran Dragic is already well behind Bledsoe in terms of statistics and buzz due to his injury-riddled start to the season.  He won't be able to overcome that, and an increased contribution from him would probably diminish Bledsoe's chances.  Markieff is off to a stupendous start. Sheridan Hoops even has him listed #1 in their sixth man rankingsand #1 in their most improved player rankings.  Bledsoe is second and Miles Plumlee is fifth (go Suns). Morris is even third in the NBA in WS/48. But Morris might end up with less votes than Pierre the Pelican.

Markieff is fine to vote for, too, but make your other frontcourt votes count (see below).

Here are the starters from last season (vote totals shown on this link):

Eastern Conference - LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade

Western Conference - Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard

Chris Bosh actually started the game since Rondo was out with an injury.

James, Anthony, Wade and Derrick Rose (replacing Rondo) from the East and Bryant, Paul, Durant and Howard are all locks again this season, but that leaves two positions you can actually vote for if you want.  KG and Griffin could potentially be ousted.  Kevin Love is probably the only player that could overtake Griffin, so that means I'll be voting for Love.  At least he has more than one skill. Paul George is my vote to supplant Garnett.

After perusing the ballot it also occurred to me that they may need to pare this thing down to about 50 (at least) for each side (from the current total of 60). My favorite (on my own personal absurdity scale) inclusions on the Western Conference ballot are Wilson Chandler, Markieff Morris (sorry), Derrick Williams, Shawn Marion and Tiago Splitter.  Trust me, I can find five more.  The Eastern Conference ballot is actually kind of sad, with Andrew Bynum and Amar'e Stoudemire among the inclusions.  Past that, I think we're all pretty safe from seeing Mario Chalmers and Gerald Henderson out there with LeBron James and Kevin Durant.  Cutting it down might make it a little easier to scroll through the ballot to the players we actually want to vote for...

Also, Derrick Williams is averaging 6.3 points per game with a PER of 8.8.  Just thought I'd get that in.

Now go vote.

Here are some of the details from the Phoenix Suns' press release:

NBA All-Star Balloting 2014 presented by Sprint gives fans around the world the opportunity to vote daily for their favorite players as starters for NBA All-Star Game 2014. This year, the NBA is expanding social media voting to include Instagram. Fans can use Instagram to vote by posting an original photo, using #NBABallot and the player’s first and last name in the photo caption. Fans can vote for 10 unique players per day.

For the second year in a row, NBA fans can vote via social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblog in China. Twitter voting allows fans to tweet a vote for 10 unique players each day throughout the All-Star balloting period. The tweet must include the player’s first and last name, along with hash tag #NBABallot. Facebook voting allows fans to comment on official league, team, or international NBA All-Star Facebook pages by commenting below the post with #NBABallot and the player’s first and last name. Voters can select 10 unique players per day.

NBA fans can also access the ballot and vote through the NBA Game Time and NBA Game Time from Sprint applications, available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day, through the NBA Game Time and NBA Game Time from Sprint application, the most comprehensive app in the marketplace for NBA fans. There are several other ways fans can cast their votes as part of this season’s all-digital program including: in 11 languages on NBA.com/asb, through SMS voting by texting the player's last name to 6-9-6-2-2 ("MYNBA") or by visiting NBA.com/asb on any wireless device.

Fans can vote for 10 different players per day, per phone number, via SMS voting by sending 10 separate SMS messages, each one with a different player's last name. Message and data rates may apply. Voters can fill out one full ballot per day on nba.com/asb from a desktop or mobile browser. After submitting their All-Star selections, fans will have the ability to share those picks with their friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter, and encourage others to cast ballots.

Balloting concludes on Monday, Jan. 20, and starters will be announced live on TNT onThursday, Jan. 23, during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader.com at 7 p.m. ET, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The special will air prior to TNT’s exclusive doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Lakers at the Miami Heat (8 p.m. ET) and the Denver Nuggets at the Portland Trail Blazers (10:30 p.m. ET).

The NBA All-Star ballot features 120 players – 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences – with 36 frontcourt players and 24 backcourt players from each conference comprising the list. Voters select three frontcourt players and two backcourt players from each conference.

The 120 players on the ballot were selected by a panel of media who regularly cover the NBA: Greg Anthony (NBA Digital), Mary Schmitt Boyer (Cleveland Plain Dealer/PBWA), Zach Lowe (Grantland), and John Reid (New Orleans Times Picayune).

NBA All-Star Game will be exclusively televised on TNT from New Orleans Arena on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. The All-Star Game, also broadcast live on ESPN Radio, will collectively reach fans in 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. NBA All-Star 2014 in New Orleans will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league’s history for a global celebration of the game. TNT will televise the All-Star Game for the 12th consecutive year, marking Turner Sports' 30th year of All-Star coverage.

State Farm All-Star Saturday Night will feature Sears Shooting Stars, Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and Sprite Slam Dunk. Other events at NBA All-Star 2014 will include the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and NBA All-Star Jam Session. The 2014 game will mark the second NBA All-Star celebration in New Orleans. The city also hosted the event in 2008.

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