In a season to forget for the Phoenix Suns, there have been a few bright spots to look forward to. Even after beating the Atlanta Hawks on a buzzer-beater by Archie Goodwin, the Phoenix Suns have...

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Devin Booker doesn’t play like your average 19-year-old and because of that he’s the best hope the Phoenix Suns have. After a year at Kentucky where he didn’t start a single game Devin...

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Phoenix Suns 7-foot-1 centers Tyson Chandler and Alex Len started together in the past two games for defensive success.

      
 
 

Patrick's last piece had two key insights into it, in my opinion:

  • The All-Star game isn't about getting the best players; it's about getting the players fans want.
  • Draymond Green, the leader in triple-doubles this season, and Jimmy, I scored forty points in a half and have the second-most points in the East for a Guard, Butler should be in the game,

I mostly agree with this sentiment at face value. Sadly, reality makes me disagree. And as we know, disagreeing with each other in sports is fun!

It's Not About the Best Players

I would agree with the sentiment that the All-Star game is about entertainment and not productivity. Except, in the last CBA the NBA instituted the Derrick Rose rule (from Larry Coon's CBA FAQ)

The salary in the first year of an extension to a rookie scale contract (other than for a team's Designated Player) may be any amount up to the player's maximum. This is usually the 0-6 year maximum, which is based on 25% of the salary cap (see question number 16). However, a player may receive up to the 7-9 year maximum, which is based on 30% of the cap, if he meets any of the following criteria (called the "5th Year 30% Max criteria"):

  • Named to the All-NBA First, Second or Third team at least twice
  • Voted as a starter in the All-Star game at least twice
  • Named the NBA Most Valuable Player at least once
Full details here.

The NBA decided to use the All-Star game as a factor in player evaluation. Anthony Davis was eligible for this extension this season. Of course, in 9th place amongst Western forwards, it's not like he was close. That said, whenever someone says: "All-Star starters don't mean anything!" They'd be right ... except the NBA dictates how much future stars can be paid based on it.

It's About Who the Fans Want to See

This is the other line thrown out. Patrick acknowledged that fans want to see Kobe's last All-Star game or that all of Georgia wanted to see Zaza Pachulia. Except, I'm not sure that's true. Or rather, I'm not sure that's the right question the NBA should be asking. The question should be: what would you spend money to see? Do Lakers fans want to see Kobe play in the All-Star game? Sure. Will more of them tune in to watch? Maybe. In Zaza's case, is the Georgia television market worth more to the NBA than say the New York market? On the same note, how many more fans will buy tickets to see the game live based on the players selected? I'm actually sure Kobe does boost ticket sales there. But what are those compared to television rates? To be clear, I don't know the answer to these questions, I'm just stating that if the All-Star game isn't about player evaluation and is about entertainment, then the goal should be maximizing that, and I'm not sure the current voting model works.

A final example here is from the book Blink. Blink recounts the "New Coke" disaster where Coke changed their recipe, used blind taste tests to see if people liked it more than Pepsi, and then swapped out their old recipe. It was one of the biggest failures in history. Now, the key was, were blind taste tests a good way to test soda? No! Because you don't buy a twelve pack of coke and just take a sip (while blindfolded and also sipping Pepsi) You have the can nearby. You drink the entire soda. New Coke was too sweet for a full can. It lacked the nostalgia people had from growing up with Coke. The test Coke used to try their new recipe was not the right test for it. A better test, as Gladwell relates, is an in-home test. You send various families home with a crate of Coke and then ask them to evaluate it after a week. Tangent over, let's relate this back to the NBA.

Is asking me to use the hashtag #NBAVote on Twitter the best model for seeing who I'll turn in to see? Is asking me to vote an entire squad in (selecting ten players on the NBA site) the best method? I doubt it. Blink discussed a lot of the pitfalls in things like focus groups and user surveys. Namely, because often what the customer says and what they do don't line up. Netflix, for example, will tell me routinely that movies with horrible ratings are popular right now. In short, even if the All-Star game is just about fans and ratings, I think their current model for figuring that out is flawed.

Summing Up

Let's just be clear, in NBA history anything that requires a vote about evaluating players is a tad off. Odd choices make All-Star games, I'm note sure the voters have any idea what defense is for All-Defense. Regardless, I just figured I'd put out a few arguments against the classic ones made to defend the All-Star game. Personally, all I can say is it is downright criminal Jimmy Butler isn't starting. Also, I have no intention of watching if it isn't available on NBA League Pass.

Archie Goodwin hit a last-second, game-winning 3 and Tyson Chandler tied a franchise rebounding record in a Suns win.

      
 
 

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