It’s not up to us. If it were up to the media, the NBA All Star Game would look a lot like the All-NBA team. That would be fun, no doubt, but some of the players who make the All-NBA teams at the end of each season are not necessarily the most exciting. Those players don’t always have the X-Factor that makes fans fall in love with the game.
Many of them do, of course. Last year, the First Team featured Kevin Durant, LeBron James, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. These guys are the cream of the crop, and they played well enough to push their teams to great regular season records. But they beat out Second Team selections that included DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. And while each player certainly deserved to be there, few fans will admit they are the most exciting players in the league.
Last year wasn’t so bad, but go back to 2013-2014 and of the 10 players that made the two All-NBA teams, three of them included Joakim Noah, Tony Parker, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. These were all great players and added something to their teams in their own rights, but throughout their careers, they have largely exhibited a less exciting brand of basketball. And the Third Team featured Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Goran Dragić.
So there is nothing wrong with the power of the fans bringing players like Luka Dončić to the top of the ballot despite it being his rookie season, neither is there a problem with the likes of Dwyane Wade or Derrick Rose being given lifetime achievement nominations. Because, this isn’t about who the media thinks is the most deserving, this is about what the fans want. That fact might make it less competitive or not as serious as some pundits might prefer, but that is the way the All-Star Game has been for the majority of their lifetimes.
With that being said, we at Double Clutch consider ourselves part of the media, so we’re going to preach to you, the fans, who you should have voted for enough times to at least get into the top 10 of the first returns.
By Huw Hopkins
Seeing Jrue Holiday heat up is exciting. It happens slowly. He never goes into a game with the swagger of James Harden or arrives hot off the bench like Lou Williams. Instead, he plays like a typical point guard, despite being more of a small forward with the height of a two guard playing in a point guard position for a team lacking in that area since Elfrid Payton went down with an injury.
He is the only help Anthony Davis has on the New Orleans Pelicans and is averaging 20 points with 8 assists and 4 rebounds. But perhaps the best reason for him to be in Charlotte in February is the fact that he gives a crap on defense. He is one of the best defenders in the league and would make the typically defensless play of the All-Star Game less of an issue.
By Tom Wade
One particular player who should have been among the top 10 is Nikola Vučević. Orlando’s big man has easily put forward his claim for the best center in the Easteven Conference. Vooch is having a career year, averaging 20 points, more than 11 rebounds and 3 assists, while shooting a hot 53.2% from the field. He’s one of only six players this season to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, and his player efficiency rating of 26.40 sits him sixth in the league behind Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – all of whom were voted top 10 in the fans vote.
For a player of his quality it really does come as a shock that the fans haven’t acknowledged what he has accomplished this season so far, but given the history of the fans vote, I believe that even if Vooch doesn’t get the recognition from fans, the players, coaches and media will fully restore the order from this crazy first return and reward Vooch with his debut appearance.
By Ben Moorcroft
The only reason Tobias Harris isn’t going to the All-Star game is because he hasn’t got the same narrative and media coverage as a number of the other players selected. He is averaging a career high 20 points alongside 8 rebounds. He is also shooting a career high 42% from three. This is an area of his game which has vastly improved.
In terms of players averaging 20 points, Harris is third in terms of true shooting percentage with 61%. He has had standout games like scoring 34 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a win at Portland in November. He similarly scored 32 points and had 9 rebounds in a tough loss away at Golden State. In a much strengthened conference, many assumed it would be the Clippers who could fall out of the playoffs but they have been better than ever.
Harris is averaging more points, more rebounds, fewer turnovers and shooting a much better percentage from the field than Luka Dončić who was second in All-Star voting with 679,839 after the first returns. However, he doesn’t have as many highlight plays or flashy ball skills so people don’t remember his name. Just because he isn’t spoken about doesn’t mean we can’t highlight his good work this season.
Featured photo – via Derick E. Hingle / USA Today Sports / Orlando Sentinel / NBAE / Double Clutch illustration