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NEW YORK — Between now and Thursday, the NBA world will no doubt be debating the merits of those that deserve the accolade of being  named as reserve all-stars.

The reserves will be voted on by the respective coaches in each conference. Each coach has a ballot and will be charged with voting for two guards, three "front court" players and two "wildcard" players.

Before the Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 94-89 on Friday, P.J. Carlesimo made the case for Brook Lopez being named to the all-star team. Carlesimo even went as far as to say that Lopez is the best center in the conference.

Surprisingly, the usually politically correct and reserved Lopez agreed with his coach. In Lopez's own words, he is the best.

Brook Lopez

"He's playing as well as any center in the league," Carlesimo said when asked about Lopez's play. "I don't know another center that is playing better than him. There are a couple others that are playing really well, too, but I don't think there is any center that is playing better than him. He's done a heck of a job."

Carlesimo also thinks that if Lopez doesn't make the team this year, it will only be a matter of time until he does and that's difficult to argue with. This season, Lopez is averaging a team-high 18.6 points to go along with 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Lopez leads all centers in the NBA in points per-game and currently ranks fourth in the NBA in blocks per-game.

"Brook should be [an all-star]," Carlesimo said. "If he's not this year, he's going to be next year. Hopefully, it will happen this year, it's in the coach's hands now, so I feel good about that."

It's easy to make the case for Lopez and that's probably why he didn't hesitate to give himself some credit.

After being asked how it felt for his coach to make such a strong case on his behalf, Lopez was grateful. "It's a huge compliment, obviously," he said. "I'm very confident in myself and my abilities and I just wanna go out and try to give my best night in and night out."

When asked whether or not he himself agreed with his coach, Lopez was honest. "I definitely feel that I'm at the top," he said. "I don't really watch many other teams so I have to take it by when I play them and what I see when I see them, and I definitely think I'm at the top."

With the Nets at 24-16 and the Eastern Conference's dearth of centers, it's hard to imagine Lopez not making the team.

Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls both play for teams ahead of the Nets in the standings, so both have a shot of making it, as well. Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks may get some consideration, too

We'll find out Jan. 24.

Tags: Brook Lopez All Star, Columns, Moke Hamilton , Moke Hamilton
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