The snub factor
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network.com) - I know it's Super Bowl Sunday and I know I just did an article on Lance Stephenson a week ago but get a load of this.
"I'm mad," said Stephenson after not being chosen for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. "I already had a chip on my shoulder ... now I'm going to kill everybody who is in front of me."
Easyyyy there, Lance. We don't need you going all Mike Tyson on us.
Here are a couple things to consider while we try and talk Lance off the ledge.
1. Lance is right to be angry. I would be too. Seriously, Joe Johnson made the team? Come on. What are the Nets, like a million games under .500?
2. Call me crazy but maybe all this anger is ACTUALLY a good thing for Stephenson.
Point No. 2 is the one I'd like to elaborate on. Playing with a Joe Johnson- sized chip on your shoulder is the only way to play in the NBA these days.
You think Kevin Durant's recent streak of 30-point games was built on rainbows and butterflies? Heck no. Durant did it because he's tired of being second- best to LeBron.
And what about Michael Jordan? You think a day goes by that he doesn't think about getting cut from varsity his sophomore year at Laney High School? Not a chance.
Of course, these insecurities run a bit deeper than Stephenson's relatively meaningless beef with All-Star voters. After all, Stephenson is just 23 years old. He'll have plenty more chances to make the All-Star team.
Stephenson is hardly the first player to get snubbed by All-Star voters. This year alone, Stephenson, Anthony Davis, Goran Dragic and DeMarcus Cousins were all given the cold shoulder despite having All-Star-worthy first half stats.
The question is, what does Stephenson do now ... use his All-Star exclusion as motivation or just go on playing like nothing happened? The best way to answer that is by looking at some of the All-Star snubs before him.
Last year, we had two notable snubs. One was Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. The voters have since made up for their mistake by granting Curry a trip to this year's All-Star Game in New Orleans.
But in 2013, Curry was not pleased. The star point guard took it out on his opponents by averaging 26 ppg after the break. He averaged a mere 21 ppg prior to All-Star Weekend.
But at least Curry got to compete in the three-point shootout at last year's All-Star event. Marc Gasol didn't even get to do that.
The rest of the league probably wishes he had after the punishment Gasol inflicted on his opponents during the second half. His field goal percentage improved dramatically after the break (51.7 versus 48.0) as did his scoring (14.6 ppg compared to 13.8) and assist averages (4.6 up from 3.6 in the first half). The only area he didn't improve in was rebounding (7.8 in the first half, 7.7 after the break).
By following up their All-Star snubs with sensational second halves, Gasol and Curry were continuing a trend set during the 2012 campaign. That year Rudy Gay and Brandon Jennings were forced to watch from home while Chris Paul and others made the trip to Orlando for All-Star weekend.
Gay's ppg average only improved marginally (18.9 to 19.0) but Jennings was better in just about every offensive category after his snub. His scoring average shot up from 18.4 ppg to 19.8 while his shooting percentage rose from 40.5 to 43.1 percent. Jennings was also a better distributor post-snub, chipping in with just under six dimes a game (5.2 apg before the All-Star break).
Two years before that, Utah's Carlos Boozer and L.A.'s Andrew Bynum were also passed over by All-Star voters. Boozer responded with an outstanding second half (19.6 ppg on 58.7 percent shooting, 11.8 rpg) while Bynum was nearly as remarkable (57.6 percent shooting, 8.7 rpg).
Josh Smith, now of the Detroit Pistons, has become an expert in the snub business. After he didn't fit the league's All-Star criteria in 2010, Smith annihilated his Eastern Conference opponents to the tune of 16.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg and 4.8 apg in the second half (15.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.9 apg prior to the All- Star Game).
After being rejected again in 2012, Smith got even angrier. This time he made All-Star voters want to rip up their ballots by averaging almost 22 ppg. That's nearly a six-point improvement from what he posted during the first half of 2012 (16.1 ppg on 45.2 percent shooting).
All this evidence suggests players who don't earn the All-Star nod are better off for it.
Except for Monta Ellis and LaMarcus Aldridge. Those two prickly fellows did not want to cooperate with my study.
Instead of getting better, Ellis and Aldridge both got worse after their snubs in 2011. Ellis watched his scoring average fall by almost four ppg (25.3 ppg to 21.4) in the second half while Aldridge watched his ppg average dip by a point and a half (22.3 ppg to 20.8).
But I'm confident that won't happen to Stephenson. He's out for revenge and I think he's going to get it.
You've been warned, World.
02/02 15:57:09 ET