The Travesty of the NBA All-Star Vote

As of Thursday, Kobe Bryant was the leading vote getter among Western Conference guards in NBA All-Star balloting this year.  If you’ve been watching the games this year, you see the problem with this.  In six games this season, Kobe is averaging 13.8 PPG and 6.3 APG on 42.5% shooting.  Far off his career marks of 25.5 PPG and 45.4% FG.  On top of that, let me reiterate, he’s played in only six games!!!

Yet, as of Thursday, Kobe was leaps and bounds ahead of his fellow West guards in all-star balloting with 723,000+ votes.  Clippers point guard Chris Paul was second with 533,000 votes, Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry was third with 481,000 votes.  Paul is a no-brainer leading the league with 11.5 APG.  Throw in 19.9 PPG on 46.2% shooting and Paul is the complete package.  After getting snubbed last year, Curry is a shoo-in for his first all-star berth averaging 23.9 PPG and 9.5 APG, second best in the league behind only Paul.  Curry is shooting 44.5% from the field and 40.9% from three-point range.

If you want to go the analytics route and look at some more advanced statistics such as PER (Player Efficiency Rating), Paul (27.8, 4th overall) and Curry (23.48, 11th overall) dwarf Kobe (11.65).  15.0 is league average.

Kobe Bryant is one of the single greatest players to step foot on a basketball court, but he’s played in only six games this year and the Lakers are floundering at 13-17.  The fact that Kobe remains the leading vote getter amongst West guards is a testament to two things, Kobe’s greatness and the impact he’s left on the game, and the sheer ignorance of voters.

Anyone who’s been following the team, knows that Kobe will not be back in time for all-star break, and his impact just hasn’t been felt on the court this season.  Paul and Curry are far better choices as well as a plethora of other West guards including James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Ty Lawson, and Eric Bledsoe.  How sad that the “fans” voting across the globe are too naïve to vote for any of these amazing guards.  Their numbers

Harden: 24.0 PPG, 5.5 APG, 44.5% FG, 21.3 PER

Westbrook: 21.3 PPG, 7.0 APG, 42.4% FG, 21.46 PER

Lillard: 21.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, 41.3% FG, 19.98 PER

Lawson: 17.5 PPG, 7.9 APG, 43% FG, 19.65 PER

Bledsoe: 18.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 49.2% FG, 20.78 PER

The other travesty is in the front-court.  This is the first year that fans have voted for three frontcourt players as opposed to the traditional two forwards-one center lineup.  Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant leads all front court players as well as all Western Conference players with 850,000 votes.  Again, this is a no brainer.

As things stand Durant would be joined by the Rockets’ Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin in the frontcourt in New Orleans.  Anyone with a brain definitely questions the presence of those two in the all-star starting lineup.  The most glaring omissions that immediately come to mind are Minnesota’s Kevin Love, who is just filling the box score at an astonishing rate, and LaMarcus Aldridge, a model of consistency on the West leading Portland Trail Blazers.

Let’s take a look at some of the West’s top frontcourt players simply by the numbers.

Durant: 28.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 4.8 APG, 49.1% FG, 28.07 PER

Love: 26.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 46.4% FG, 28.03 PER

Aldridge: 23.4 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 47.2 % FG, 22.76 PER

Griffin: 21.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 52.4% FG, 21.17 PER

Cousins: 22.7 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 49.4% FG, 26.6 PER

Nowitzki: 21.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 49.6% FG, 24.09 PER

Howard: 18.2 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 59.2% FG, 22.55 PER

Duncan: 14.1 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 44.9% FG, 20.82 PER

Things aren’t quite so clear cut in the front court.  Not to say that Griffin and Howard aren’t deserving, but one really can’t make an argument that Love and Aldridge aren’t deserving either, nor are the former two more deserving than the latter two.  Maybe I’m just a bitter Lakers fan who doesn’t want Howard or Griffin to get any glory, but take the numbers any way you want them.

In terms of actual balloting, just check out some of the other gems.

West Guard

1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 723,031
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 533,647
3. Stephen Curry (GS) 481,698
4. Jeremy Lin (HOU) 358,725
5. James Harden (HOU) 270,476
6. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 216,070

Lin’s having a real nice year, and he’s a contributor on a solid Houston team, but come on, fourth overall among West guards.  Lin has 80,000 more votes than his far superior teammate James Harden.  You’ve got to be kidding me, right!?  I don’t want to live in a world where people would rather see Jeremy Lin in the all-star game over James Harden or Russell Westbrook!  No one should live in that world.

Everything appears to be in order over in the Eastern Conference where LeBron James is the leading vote getter among all players.  He would be joined by Indiana’s Paul George and New York’s Carmelo Anthony in the front court.  Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving lead the East guards in votes.

I know some people just vote for their favorite players and who they’d want to see play in an all-star game.  I’m a firm believer that the numbers should do the talking and the best players (at that moment) should be voted into the game, regardless of stature outside of the sport.  On top of that, snubs are inevitable, regardless of the circumstances.

I can’t tell you how much it pained me to not vote for Kobe Bryant when filling out my all-star ballot.  I don’t think that’s ever happened as long as I’ve been able to vote for the all-star game.  But, I couldn’t in good conscience vote for someone who’s only played in six games.  As fans of the game, I hope you all use the same rationale when casting your vote for the NBA all-stars.  It’s like the presidential vote, put the person who will do the best job in the game.





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