Wait, they picked who?
We get it; the NBA All-Star game isn't always about picking the best players. We've written about it twice this last week (Patrick's article and Dre' Article if you want to review) However, DeMarcus Cousins made a great point recently, the fans seem to have a bias to arguably the most talented players in the game. We're, of course, talking about big men. DeMarcus Cousins is right! Well, he's half-right, which we'll get to in a second. To prove DeMarcus' point, I'll be using my fake "Emperor of the NBA" magic wand. Here's who I would have selected. And yes, more than a couple of bigs make the cut!
Please note, these picks are subjective in that I'm not going strictly by either per minute or total production, it's more of a hybrid approach. I'm not trying to win the game or entertain the fans, just reward the players that had the best win producing bodies of work in the first half of the 2015-016 NBA season. All right, here's my revised All-Star game roster.
|Starter||Kyle Lowry||Stephen Curry|
|Starter||Jimmy Butler||Russell Westbrook|
|Starter||Tristan Thompson ?||DeAndre Jordan ?|
|Starter||Hassan Whiteside ?||Kawhi Leonard|
|Starter||LeBron James||Kevin Durant|
|Reserve||Jae Crowder ?||James Harden|
|Reserve||Jose Calderon ?||Chris Paul|
|Reserve||Aaron Gordon ?||Draymond Green|
|Reserve||Kemba Walker ?||Ricky Rubio ?|
|Reserve||Kevin Love ?||Andre Iguodala ?|
|Reserve||Andre Drummond||Ed Davis ?|
|Reserve||Paul Millsap||Rajon Rondo ?|
|Removed||Carmelo Anthony ?||Kobe Bryant ?|
|Removed||Paul George ?||Klay Thompson ?|
|Removed||Dwyane Wade ?||LaMarcus Aldridge ?|
|Removed||Chris Bosh ?||DeMarcus Cousins ?|
|Removed||John Wall ?||Anthony Davis ?|
|Removed||Isaiah Thomas ?|
|Removed||DeMar DeRozan ?|
The West fans and coaches did a better job overall of awarding the spots than the East did, I kicked seven East players off of the team, but only five West players. Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, and Durant are all top five win producers this season, and the fans rightfully voted them in. DeAndre Jordan rounds out the last of those top five players, he is the top per-minute and total win producing big man in the NBA and is having another MVP-caliber season. The coaches didn't even vote him in as a reserve; he is my top snub this season.
So why is Cousins only half right? Even though some great big men got left off the team, DeMarcus himself does not belong on it. He said that his play "speaks for itself”, and he's been playing out of his mind lately, but his entire first-half body of work does not justify a spot on the West team. He's a great rebounder and defender, but he had too many missed shots, turnovers, and fouls to be considered an elite big man. Additionally, while the West's top big men are excellent, there isn't the same depth of quality big man resumes that there has been in recent years. Gobert, Bogut, and Bass have all played very well but have missed too many games due to injury to make the cut. Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis have also missed games and haven't played as well as in past seasons. Howard also isn't as young as he used to be and Kevin Love took his talents to the Cleve.
West roster notes:
- I was forced to go with Ed Davis, who has played limited minutes but played very well per minute, to fill one of the required three front court bench spots
- Green and Iguodala, who have been excellent second and third fiddles to Curry this year, took the other West frontcourt reserve spots. Sorry Klay, you're a great three point shooter, but you're nowhere near the overall player Iguodala is so far this season
- Harden hasn't been his usual MVP-caliber self, but 3.7 Points over Par per 48 minutes was enough to get him in since he's leading the league in minutes played
- Otherwise, there's a high concentration of great point guards in the West this season, and they took most of the remaining spots. One of the most blatant point guard snubs was Cousins' teammate, Rajon Rondo, who has produced eight of the Kings' twenty wins on his own.
- Aldridge is having a so-so year and was an easy cut for me. Manu and Parker have turned back that clock yet again and are playing great; they just haven't logged quite enough minutes to get in there. Some things never change.
East roster notes:
- There were plenty of inefficient wing players to kick off of the East roster to make room for Hassan Whiteside, who leads the league in both blocks per 48 minutes and total blocks, and is another massive snub.
- Even if Lebron isn't the best player in the league anymore, he's playing well enough to keep his starting spot, and still logging a lot of minutes.
- I went with Tristan Thompson over Andre Drummond for the final starting frontcourt player. Drummond is the best rebounder in the NBA, but his offensive efficiency has fallen off this year after he expanded his shooting range. Additionally, his legendarily poor free throw shooting is more of a factor now that he takes more shots. Thompson isn't great from the line either but at 58.3% true shooting versus Drummond's 49.6%, he's having a much better offensive year. As Patrick stated eloquently in his article, Paul Millsap is having a great season and easily justifies the coaches faith in him, though I have him on the bench since Thompson is much better per minute.
- Despite my joke on this week's show, Aaron Gordon has played too few minutes to make it in as a starter. I couldn't ignore 5.4 Points over Par per 48 minute, though, so I gave him the Ed Davis treatment and gave him a bench spot.
- I thought that Jae Crowder was the better Celtic than Isiah Thomas.
- Wade and Bosh stole all of Whiteside's Heat win producing credit; they got the axe.
Overall, a lot of mediocre players on good teams got credit for their team's success in the eyes of the coaches and fans, while their more productive teammates flew under the radar.
Who did I get right, and who did I get wrong? Duty Calls!