AUBURN HILLS, MICH. The entire Bulls starting lineup point guard Derrick Rose, shooting guard Rip Hamilton, small forward Luol Deng, power forward Carlos Boozer and center Joakim Noah made the Eastern Conference NBA All-Star Game ballot, the league announced Wednesday.
The inclusion of all five starters shows how much higher in stature the Bulls, coming off a season in which they won a league-high 62 regular-season games have risen.
However, its highly unlikely that all five players will be selected to play in the game, let alone be starters.
Rose, the reigning league MVP, is a lock to be a starter for a second consecutive year, and it wouldnt be a shock to see him challenge to be the NBAs highest vote-getter in fan balloting.
Noah might be the next most popular Bull in Chicago, but his lack of gaudy statistics probably will prevent him from making the game, although he was in line to make his first All-Star appearance last season, until injuries sidelined him.
Boozer, a polarizing figure in Chicago and throughout the league, is also an unlikely candidate for the game, despite being a former All-Star in the Western Conference.
Hamilton, another former All-Star, isnt likely to put up statistics worthy of candidacy in his first season with the Bulls, not to mention the fact that the veterans best years could be behind him.
That leaves Deng, whose strong start to the campaign, following arguably his best all-around professional season, could garner nominations from the leagues coaches, although the fans probably wont vote him in as a starter, due to his lack of NBA-wide name recognition.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau stumped for Deng to make both the All-Star Game and the leagues all-defensive team last season to little success, but with a Coach of the Year award under his belt, perhaps hell have more sway this time around.
Furthermore, after the teams successful 2010-11 campaign, in which Rose was Chicagos lone All-Star, Deng could be the second All-Star player on one of the leagues consensus upper-echelon teams.