Explaining All-Star snubs
Jim Brighters - NBA Editor|
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Outrage comes with the territory when the All-Star reserves are announced.
This year, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks were the poster children for the snubbed.
The reason these gentlemen didn't make their respective team is clear. They don't carry the name recognition of the fellas who will be headed to New York City in a few weeks.
Cousins has a great argument to make the West team. He's sixth in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, sixth in Player Efficiency Rating and 12th in blocked shots. Those numbers stop traffic, but Cousins had a few things going against him.
First, the Kings own a losing record. To make an All-Star team with a sub-.500 record a player needs other-worldly stats. Or, be a member of the Miami Heat. Ugh.
Cousins is very close to having those marks. Not close enough.
Secondly, coaches check familiar boxes way too often. Kevin Durant played about the same number of games as my mailman, but got the nod. Why? Well, he is an All-Star caliber player no matter how many games, but mostly the reason is, he's Kevin Durant.
Angry Tim Duncan is on the team over Cousins? Same principals apply, but at least the San Antonio Spurs are a playoff team.
But here's a more specific explanation why Cousins has Valentine's weekend off and Duncan will be in the Big Apple. It was articulated much better than I could have by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News Friday morning on Twitter.
"All things being equal, I think coaches tend to vote for players they would most like to coach. Duncan over Boogie Cousins, for example."
There it is. Now, to be fair, numbers aren't remotely close to equal, but the point is Cousins still suffers from a bad rap. He's worked hard at changing that, but the perception exists. Duncan is a saint. There are probably shrines dedicated to his very existence. It's easier to vote for that guy, than the one who causes havoc and not necessarily in a good way.
Lillard was something of a surprise in missing out. I had him on my ballot at the expense of LA Clippers' perennial All-Star Chris Paul, but Cliff's twin got the nod.
Winning can't be the argument against Lillard's shunning. The Blazers are 32-14 and have been near the top of the standings for almost the entire season. They've fallen on hard times of late, losing seven of nine, but the Trail Blazers share the fourth-best record in the NBA.
Can you name the two teams the Blazers share the fourth-best record with? The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, so, for those who feel Paul didn't deserve it, LA's record can't be the reason.
Let's look at the numbers. Paul is averaging 17.5 ppg, 9.7 apg and 1.9 spg, while shooting 47 percent from the floor, 39 percent from long range and is seventh in PER.
Lillard averages 21.8 ppg, 6.2 apg and 1.3 spg. He shoots 43 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from 3-point land and is 20th in PER.
Let's put it this way - Paul's inclusion at Lillard's expense is not as tragic a miscarriage of justice as say Nick Offerman never being nominated for an Emmy for "Parks and Recreation."
No need to bother with Korver's absence. It was a coin flip with Wade, and superstar won out. Wade also has All-Star numbers, just a hideous record in a hideous conference.
Superstardom trumps all and it always will. Plus, if Wade can't go because of a hamstring injury, Korver is the only logical replacement in the East.
I don't believe it's a total laziness by the coaches. McDonald's point is a great one. Coaches will always vote for the great player whose legacy is pristine.
My advice to Cousins is keep putting up those numbers, keep staying out of trouble with the attitude-related stuff and hope Sacramento improves in the standings.
For Lillard, it was five guys for four spots. The least-tenured got passed over. It's disappointing, sure, and he may get in as a replacement for Kobe Bryant. Same goes for Cousins.
These young guys can't overcome politics. Keep it in your mind and use it for motivation. They are both young enough to make plenty of All-Star games in the future.
The coaches aren't going to change the way they vote. Their philosophy isn't terrible, but it's just boring to see the likes of Duncan and Durant go when they aren't most deserving.
Not a thing we can do about it, so it's probably just been a waste of 100 lines.
- Not a bold prediction, but after a snub at the All-Star Game and a snub for the US World Cup team, Lillard is going to go on a second-half tear. I'm serious. I think it's going to be an MVP-type push.
- The Atlanta Hawks do something really cool with their Twitter handle. For every game during this winning streak, they add a "W" in the Hawks name. So many teams do hilarious work on Twitter, including, but not limited to the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers.
- Per Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, Jacque Vaughn will coach the Orlando Magic on Saturday, but that could be it. There really has been no significant improvement during his tenure. There are a lot of puppies on that roster, but there should have been some growth.
- Movie moment - "Wedding Crashers" might go into my top-five all-time comedies. Back in the day when Richard Roeper worked on TV with Roger Ebert, he singled out Vince Vaughn's performance as worthy of a Supporting Actor nomination. He's right.
- TV moment - Not many people watched "Parenthood," but I did. Admittedly, I'm behind on this final season, but this was just solid, honest entertainment and apparently people don't like that.