The NBA is staging its 64th All Star week end on February 15. As usual, the NBA fandom voted the starting line-up of each conference. And as usual, there is always disagreement on the results. Here is how the voting went, what are the major disagreements, and my choices as well.
Fans have the First Say
The fans were empowered and they have spoken. The Eastern Conference will be represented by Kyle Lowry of the Raptors and John Wall of the Wizards at guard, Lebron James of the Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks at forward, and Pau Gasol of the Bulls at center. The Western Conference is headed by Stephen Curry of the Warriors and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers at guard, Blake Griffin of the Clippers and Anthony Davis of the Hornets at Forward, and Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies at center.
Curry was the surprise top vote-getter in the entire league with 1,513,324 votes, besting Lebron James and his East leading 1,470,483 votes at second. This is Curry’s second consecutive start while Lebron is making his 11th participation along with Anthony (647,005). Pau Gasol (974,177) is appearing for the fifth time, John Wall (886,368) second and Lowry (805,290) first to round up the East. Third highest vote-getter Davis (1,369,911 well-deserved votes) and Marc Gasol (795,121) are coming back for the second time, Griffin (700,615) fifth and Bryant (1,152,402) is voted in for the 17th time to complete the West.
Some trivia of this Year’s All-Star Edition
It will be the first time in NBA All-Star history this year that fans will see brothers will be starting against each other, Pau and Marc case. The East has no legit power forward and shooting guard in the line-up although James and Carmelo have played the power forward position before while Wall did play some shooting guard when the Wizards opted to play small-ball. The West do not have a legit small forward, and neither Griffin nor Davis have not played the position during their NBA career. Coaches Mike Budenholzer of Atlanta and Steve Kerr of Golden State will be the coaches due to their teams’ conference leading win-loss records.
What are pundits saying
A lot of the disagreements pertain to the selection of Anthony in the East and Bryant in the West, the reason being is that there are more deserving players in terms of contribution and team standings that should be rewarded with an All-Star appearance. The names of Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Chris Bosh for the East; and Kevin Durant, James Harden, Demarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldrigde, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook for the West are being thrown out as more deserving than the two. This is one event that should have and did elicit a multitude of valid opinions and arguments. It is too bad not all can really be given slots.
The Playmaker’s Choices
In today’s context of the All-Star game, I am okay with the fans’ choices except I would rather have Kevin Durant starting instead of Blake. I would replace Kobe with Klay Thompson due to his injury.
The All-Star game is now more of a fun exhibition game. Players play almost zero defense and teams allow the opposing party to score with impunity while offering almost little resistance. The “Who is better, the East or the West?” theme is almost fading away being replaced by a very, very friendly camaraderie game. I wish we could still see strategies that are set to be executed for the purpose of winning the game as if something precious is awaiting the winner even though it is still a friendly one.
So, I agree that the fan-voted starting line-up is what a ticket holder should expect to see in the All-Star game. While it may be true that there are players more deserving of a starting slot, I do not blame the fans for choosing Bryant and Anthony. If I were the one who would shell out a huge amount of money to attend a game, then I want an equally deserving star power to dominate the line-up. Definitely, Kobe and Carmelo command a greater following than James Harden and Marcin Gortat, the men that would have replaced them based on the voting results. And although there are others ahead of them performance and team record wise, there being not too far behind makes them both deserving for the slot in my book. Melo can fill the stat sheet while leading his mediocre Knick teammates and Bryant is turning in near triple doubles for the equally talent-wanting Lakers.
The Durant-Griffin case is an average thing for me. Had Durant played the full schedule this season, I am sure he would have voted instead of Griffin. Durant showed he is back to old form and is even outperforming Griffin average wise. Look at KD’s per game averages: 25.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.0 blocks, 51.9% shooting including 39.3 from downtown and 85.8% from the free throw line. Compare it with Blake’s: 22.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.0 spg and 0.4 bpg along with 50% shooting from the field and 71.6% from the line. Both have the same team success as the Thunder is 14-7 when Durant is playing while the Clippers are 31-14 when Blake plays. The value of Durant, though, becomes visible when one looks at the 9-15 record of Oklahoma when he is inactive. Talking about rewarding player’s value, Durant should take this one due to legit injury excuse.
If it is up to me, I will replace Kobe with Klay Thompson, who recently made 52 points, including 11 of 15 triples, 37 of them coming during the third quarter. The 37 points erased the previous record of 33 shared by George “The Iceman” Gervin and Anthony. Harden, this year leading scorer with 1,240 points in 46 games for a 27.6 average, would not be a bad choice if Steve Kerr wishes to select him. Any of the two will be a fair Kobe replacement in my opinion.