Every year, two things happen: First, the NBA announces the winners of the NBA All star voting. If you use twitter, you've probably seen lots of folks voting with the #NBAVote hashtag. Second, everyone gets outraged at how stupid the fans are, how undeserving [insert ridiculous choice here] is of starting in the all star game, and how outrageous it is that [insert obvious MVP candidate here] wasn't voted to start.
I've been guilty of this outrage too, of course.
Kevin Love is second in scoring, first in rebounding, first 25/12/4 since, what, Barkley? But we're not voting him in? Really, NBA fans!?— Patrick Minton (@nbageek) December 30, 2013
But I've since changed my stance about this. The NBA doesn't actually want the all star starters to be its ten best players. It wants them to be the ten players who the fans most want to see. The All-Star game is about ratings, not basketball. And fans want to see Kobe (because they know it's their last chance), and they want to see Melo because...well, actually, I'm really not sure why anyone wants to see Melo play; I've always found his game to be pretty boring to watch.
And that's before we even get into the game-rigging shenanigans like entire countries voting for that one player in the NBA. So...outrage is misplaced.
But, in case you feel the need to vent a little, here are the players that I think deserved to start.
He's second in the West in wins produced, but leads all non-point-guards in assists per 48 (and second-place James Harden is pretty far behind), and is a leading candidate for defensive player of the year. He should quite obviously replace Kobe Bryant in the front court (speaking of which...WTF? Last I checked, Kobe plays guard, not forward?).
It's very hard to argue with the other 4 spots in the west, though. They are quite literally the top four MVP candidates right now.
Long-time readers of the site will know that I absolutely hate (hate HATE HATE) the "empty stats" argument. NBA Players are not playing fantasy basketball. Opponents don't just let Whiteside block ten shots a game. He's now done this three times in two years, and there are only about a dozen players who have done this at all since the NBA started tracking blocks. "Wiltside" is a better choice than Melo in the front court.
Once upon a time, Dwayne Wade was the best shooting guard in the NBA, but those days are long past. He's still scoring a lot, but he's chucking lots of shots to do it. His shooting efficiency is at a career low, as are his steals. He's just not the same player he used to be.
Butler, on the other hand, is having a career year (which, since he already did that last season, is impressive). He's the Bulls' best scorer (in volume and efficiency), a great defender and passer.
Between Millsap and George, it is quite literally no contest which "Paul" is having the better season. Millsap has better per48 numbers in rebounds (both defensive and offensive), steals, turnovers (George is having a terrible year in this category), and blocks (Millsap is actually good at this, while George is about as effective as Kevin Love). Not all of this is George's fault; his numbers would actually look a lot better if he were playing small forward more.
This is a situation where the voters have a hard time looking beyond points per game (otherwise known as the "Yay! Points!" metric). George is scoring 23.7 points per game (a career high), while Millsap averages only 18.4 (coincidentally also a career high). But George's very poor turnover and block numbers, and his sub-par rebounding, really should matter when you're evaluating a guy who plays so much power forward in small-ball lineups.
So, that's my "outrage". What's got you riled up about this year's all-star voting?