NBA All-Star Snubs
Each year, when the NBA All Star game comes around, it sparks a discussion about the players who will not be in attendance because they were neither voted in by the fans nor selected as a reserve by the coaching staff. Let’s take a look at some of the key players who will be missing from the big game in Brooklyn next Sunday.
Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers, Guard
In what was by far the biggest snub of a prospective All Star player this season, Damian Lillard was left off the Western Conference roster this year despite having had a career season. Lillard is enjoying career highs this season in points (21.7), rebounds (3.9), steals (1.4), and field goal percentage (43.1%). The 24-year-old guard has quietly had a solid beginning to his three year career – not having missed a single game – while maintaining similar numbers. This should not only be a shoo-in for the All Star squad, he should also be in the conversation for Most Valuable Player (MVP) by the time the season is over. He has developed a reputation as one of the most reliable clutch shooters in the game to the point where he may be the one player any team would most want taking the final shot in a game. Combining this with his knack for taking over games down the stretch, it is unclear why Lillard was not selected by the West’s coaching staff to fill out the roster.
2/9/2015: Damian Lillard will be going back to the All Star game this year after all. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, corrected what many felt was an obvious slight, picked Damian Lillard yesterday to replace the injured Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
Kyle Korver – Atlanta Hawks, Guard
This has to be the one player who has fueled the most arguments about snubbed players. The big question surrounding Korver is measuring his overall ability and contributions. Korver has been criticized by scouts and analysts during his time in the league as a one-dimensional player, contributing only with his scoring capabilities, while not providing much help on defense. This is the All Star Game, where defense has never been on display with teams typically combining to score over 300 points combined. Why not have the most feared sharp-shooter in the league, who just happens to be having an unheard of season in terms of the numbers he is producing? He is on pace to complete the season as only the second player in the history of basketball to finish with 50% field goal percentage, 50% three-point percentage, and 90% free throw percentage. Korver seems to enter the building already on fire and ready to light up the scoreboard. If the All Star Game is about celebrating the best players from the current season, then Korver should be on the floor.
Brandon Knight – Milwaukee Bucks, Guard
The Milwaukee Bucks are by far the biggest surprise this season as they enter the All Star break as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down. Until being benched for the season by an ACL tear, Bucks point guard Brandon Knight had been leading the way for the surging Milwaukee franchise. Knight still leads the Bucks in points, assists, and steals, while enjoying career highs in those same categories. He has always been under the radar playing in smaller markets such as Detroit and Milwaukee, he does not have the same flash as other Eastern Conference guards like John Wall, Derrick Rose, and Kyrie Irving. At age 23, Knight is still looking for a breakthrough, and he has put in the hard work, improving his free throw percentage nine points to 89%, and his three point percentage by eight points to a stellar 40%. The Milwaukee guard just has not had enough exposure in a star-studded NBA. Being snubbed for the All Star Game will not help him gain that exposure sooner. He may just have to wait for the playoffs to make a name for himself and join the list of the elite point guards. Meanwhile, fans in Milwaukee can look forward to enjoying basketball’s best kept secret next year, assuming that Knight is able to come back from his injury.
DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers, Center
DeAndre Jordan has been flat out efficient. He leads the league in field goal percentage with a whopping 73%. Granted, most of his shot attempts are within three feet of the basket, but efficiency is not something to be overlooked in this game. Jordan is also averaging 13.6 rebounds per game -which is leading the league by far-and is the backbone for a stingy Clippers defense. Yes, he is miserable at the free throw line, one of the worst in history, in fact, but just like defense, free throws couldn’t be any less exciting or important for the All Star Game. The Los Angeles center is an efficient, high flying, rebounding machine and he is having the season of his life. His talents really should have been recognized within the basketball community by being showcased in the All Star Game.
Draymond Green – Golden State Warriors, Forward
Draymond Green doesn’t put up All Star type numbers, but that is due to the many scoring options in the Warriors offense. Still, he has been consistently scoring in double figures and has been the most overall productive player every night for the West’s top team.
Nikola Vucevic – Orlando Magic, Forward
Vucevic is a defensive liability in the low post, and plays for the overlooked Magic franchise, but he is still one of the biggest offensive threats in the game. He has put up numbers similar to Eastern starter Pau Gasol, but he simply lacks the name recognition at this point in the season.
Zach Randolph – Memphis Grizzlies, Forward
Randolph has been overshadowed by Marc Gasol this year in the Memphis frontcourt, but that should not hide the fact that Randolph has had one of his most productive years in recent history, even with a decrease in minutes played.
When fans are involved in voting, it is common to see some players left out that should have been voted in, and some players who were voted in that should not be there. It is a popularity contest, and there is nothing wrong with that. Since this is an event for the fans to enjoy, they have the right to vote for who they want to see play. Accolades and honors are important for athletes, regardless of whether they are willing to admit it.
It is important to acknowledge when a player is having a special season to be rewarded with the opportunity to play with some of the game’s best in front of the game’s biggest audience. There will always be snubs in any sport’s All-Star game but, when an MVP candidate and the game’s most dangerous shooter are not on the roster, that becomes an issue. Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement to ESPN that he would like to expand the roster size for the All-Star game. It could work, but it might also water down the quality of the event. The only true solution is to take the voting away from fans and leave it to the NBA’s experts. This could take away some appeal from the more casual fans. It will be interesting to see how Silver addresses this issue early in his tenure.
This year’s All-Star game will be played Sunday, February 15th in Brooklyn, New York at 8:30 pm EST on TNT. The other popular activities of the All-Star weekend, such as the Footlocker Three-Point Shootout and Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, will take place on Saturday night.
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