Friday, February 3, 2012

Fans Botch the NBA All-Star Starters (Once Again)

by John Huffstetler

In the least surprising news of the NBA season, voters have once again chosen the wrong players to start in the All-Star game. So why should we care, after all, its a meaningless exhibition game? First of all, it's a great honor for the players to be selected and many players go their whole career without earning an All-Star start because of ignorant fan voters. Second, All-Star game starts and appearances contribute to the analysis who how good a player was. When discussing whether a players deserves to enter the Hall of Fame, one of the first stats mentioned is All-Star appearances. So, although the game itself is meaningless, All-Star voting dramatically effects the perception of the casual fan. For instance, the casual fan might not realize that Carmelo Anthony is having a terrible year because he was still voted as a starter in this game. Not surprisingly, the big names in the big markets get the votes, while less flashy players are left out. Here is a breakdown of the All-Star starters and who was left out.

Eastern Conference

G- Derrick Rose- Chicago- I've made a big deal about how Derrick Rose is overrated because he won the MVP despite being an average shooter and passer. I have no problem with this selection, however, because Rose has improved his shooting slightly (56 True Shooting %) and no other point guard in the East stands out as a viable replacement. Deron Williams true shooting % is way down this year at 52% and his turnover % is high at 19. This next best option behind Rose is Rajon Rondo, who has improved his true shooting to 54.4 % (still behind Rose), but he missed several games recently because of injury. Pick: Derrick Rose

G- Dwyane Wade- Miami- Simply the fact that Wade missed 9 games this year puts this selection in question. In addition, his true shooting % has dipped to a below-average 51.2%. Although I love Wade most years, he does not deserve this selection. The rookie standout Kyrie Irving deserves this spot in a guard-weak Eastern Conference. His play coupled with the return of Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamison from injury puts the Cavs squarely in contention for the 8th playoff spot in the East. Irving is averaging 18 ppg, 5 apg in under 30 minutes/game. His true shooting % is fantastic for a guard at 58.3% and his assist % of 34.7 matches that of Derrick Rose. Pick: Kyrie Irving

F- Carmelo Anthony- New York- This is the worst selection of the season. Anthony is having his worst shooting year since his rookie campaign. His true shooting % is only 51.2, which is well below-average for his position; as a result, his offensive rating has dropped from 114 last year to just 103 this year. His defensive numbers have improved, however, as his defensive rating has fallen from 111 to 102. Despite the addition of Tyson Chandler, who is playing at an elite level this year for the Knicks, the team has floundered to an 8-15 start because of the poor play of Anthony and Stoudemire. Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, and Andre Iguodala are all better options, but I prefer Ryan Anderson. Anderson's true shooting % is a solid 59.4 mainly because he's shooting 42.9% from 3-pt range. Despite his penchant for drifting to the perimeter, he is still rebounding 13.5% of available balls. His turnover rate is 2nd-best in the league (behind Matt Bonner) at 3.8%. His offensive rating of 127 and defensive rating of 103 (both above league average) indicate that the Magic perform at an elite level when he is on the floor. Pick: Ryan Anderson

F- LeBron James- Miami- He is the best player in the NBA and he's having a career year in True shooting % (62.1), Rebounding % (13.5), and defensive rating (97). This is an absolute no-brainer. Pick: LeBron James

C- Dwight Howard- Orlando- Another no-brainer. Greg Monroe is having a fantastic season in Detroit and he deserves to make the squad, but Howard is rebounding and defending at an elite level. Pick: Dwight Howard

Western Conference

G- Chris Paul- LA Clippers- His 61.3 True Shooting % is absurd for a point guard and the best of his career. His assists are once again near the top of the league and he's having a career low year in turnovers. Easy choice. Pick: Chris Paul

G- Kobe Bryant- LA Lakers- He leads the league in scoring, but he also leads the league in possessions used on offense. If a player takes the most shots, he logically should have the most points. Kobe isn't scoring efficiently, with a true shooting % of just 53.5; however, he is passing better than ever and playing fantastic defense this year. He still deserves the nod despite Russell Westbrook's and Ty Lawson's solid seasons thus far. Pick: Kobe Bryant

F- Kevin Durant- OKC- Career year this season. Pick: Kevin Durant

F- Blake Griffin- LA Clippers- Great dunks don't make you the best player at your position. Despite all of his easy baskets on dunks, his true shooting % is poor for his position at 54.2. He is rebounding well, but so are the other good candidates at forward. His defensive rating is around the league average at 105, and, by comparison, teammate DeAndre Jordan ranks 3 points better at 102. Griffin does not deserve to start in the All-Star game, and at the most loaded position in the NBA, he doesn't deserve to even make the squad. LaMarcus Aldridge, Danilo Gallinari, Pau Gasol are all having better seasons than Griffin, but I prefer Kevin Love. Love is shooting at a higher % than Griffin at 57.5, and his team is scoring more and allowing less scores when he is on the floor compared to Griffin. Pick: Kevin Love

C- Andrew Bynum- LA Lakers- After missing the first few games of the year because of suspension, Bynum has put together a solid year, despite his shooting % being down. He doesn't deserve this spot, though, over Marc Gasol. Their offensive and rebounding numbers are comparable, but Gasol is a far better defensive player than Bynum. Despite Zach Randolph's injury, Gasol has kept the Grizzlies in a position to make a run at the Southwest Division. Pick: Marc Gasol

Overall, the fans went 6/10, getting the more obvious picks right, while horribly botching three spots. The big losers were Kyrie Irving, Ryan Anderson, and Kevin Love who certainly deserve their first career All-Star starts this season. Hopefully next year, the system will change and the coaches and players will vote for the starters, not the fans.

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