NBA All-Star Starters: Hits, Misses and Surprises
During the TNT All-Star Special announcing the starters as voted by the fans there was as is typical discussion on players who didn’t get voted in and whether the fans had snubbed anyone.
The initial poll selected 4 players who perhaps should have been starters: Chris Paul, Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler or Andre Drummond . Repeatedly Green and Butler led the poll with the current total showing Butler as the player most felt got snubbed.
My vote would have been emphatically for Green as per my daily voting tweets. It’s not that I didn’t feel Kobe Bryant deserved to be rewarded for his career or play in this year’s All-Star Game, rather I felt Adam Silver would have automatically awarded him with a spot regardless, so for me it meant someone on the West would lose their spot!
Eastern Conference Fan Snubs
Looking at each conference individually in the East the big move occurred via home town hero Kyle Lowry who pulled ahead of Kyrie Irving to take over the starting guard position beside Dwyane Wade. Lowry who had trailed by just over 32,000 points gained an additional 278,969 votes over the last 4 days (just under 100k more than Irving).
While some felt Jimmy Butler was the man who received the greatest snub by fans the reality is both players who originally occupied the 2 backcourt spots didn’t deserve to make the team over any of Butler, Lowry or his Raptors backcourt teammate DeMar DeRozan who is having a career year. Though Wade is a deserving All-Star he doesn’t play enough minutes to warrant starting ahead of the 3 mentioned and some could argue even John Wall, Nicolas Batum and Isaiah Thomas are equally deserving.
For many (especially North of the border) the fact Kyrie Irving was atop the first 3 updates was creating major issues given he had played only a third of the games compared to his competition. No doubt the We The North contingent and Drake Instagram message aided in Lowry’s mission there was a third party who also aided. Actually the Drake Instagram message for Lowry and DeRozan was seen by some in Toronto (including myself) as awkward given people just liked the picture (which doesn’t count as a vote).
The third party mentioned was the Golden State Warriors fans who were actively voting for Kyle Lowry. Rumor is the Warriors fans (who now have a bonafide rivalry with Cleveland) were doing this to compensate for all the Cavs fans who have repeatedly said their Cavs would have won the title if it hadn’t been for Love and Irving being injured. The other interesting tidbit is Irving loses substantial bonus money for not becoming a starter. Last year that contract bonus was considered to be in the neighborhood of $7 to $10 million dollars, (so not chump change, by any means).
In terms of the front court Carmelo Anthony ended up edging out Pau Gasol by a measly 360 votes!
— 2016 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 14, 2016
Western Conference Fan Snubs
In the Western Conference only one player moved up to replace one of the original starting 5 and that was Kawhi Leonard who replaced Draymond Green. The real surprise was Zaza Pachulia who had help from singer Wyclef Jean and his home land of the Republic of Georgia pulling for him. In the end Pachulia came just 14,000 votes short of starting!
— Zaza Pachulia (@zaza27) January 15, 2016
Bryant’s selection is more of a sentimental tribute from his fans to thank him for his career efforts since announcing this will be his last season.
Besides Green and the two Rockets stars (James Harden and Dwight Howard) other notable West players who missed the top spots were any San Antonio Spurs (note: though I could isolate Tony Parker , Tim Duncan or LaMarcus Aldridge the reality is this team literally is so team oriented any of their top players could be voted in by the coaches and not be frowned upon by anyone, though Aldridge would be the likely player). Clippers Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Memphis Grizzlies Big 3, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson and Dirk Nowitzki.
Rockets Stars Miss The Mark:
As for Rockets stars they had a lot of ground to make up given where they sat after the 3rd update:
James Harden was fifth of the guards with 319,596. He finished with 430,777 votes and remained in the 5th spot behind Curry, Westbrook, Paul and Thompson.
As for Dwight Howard he didn’t come close despite playing very much like his former All-Star self over the past month plus. Howard ranked 12th among frontcourt players after the 3rd update with a scant 155,975 votes. He was so far down the list he didn’t even register on the update list shown.
Moving ahead, all the power now shifts to the coaches who’ll select 2 guards, 3 frontcourt players and 2 reserve players for each conference which will be announced next Thursday (January 29th).
Ernie Johnson also updated with specifics on events such as:
Friday February 12th – at 9:00 PM ET, the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge followed by an Inside the NBA broadcast at 11 PM EST
Saturday February 13th – at 7 PM ET NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader followed at 8PM ET with the State Farm All-Star Saturday Night (including the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Foot Loker Three-Point Contest and the Verizon Slam Dunk)
Sunday February 14th – at 7 PM ET NBA Tip-Off followed at 8:30 by the 2016 NBA All-Star Game presented by IKEA
For all details visit the nba.com under the All-Star section.
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