NBA All Star Snubs and How to Change the Voting System

     A few days ago the NBA All-Stars were officially announced, and the results of the voting were in some places shocking to me.  However, in hindsight, I realize that I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was because it seems every year the vote leaves many people scratching their heads, wondering why the people that got in did.  The fan-vote, which selects the starters, made mistakes, just as always, but the coach vote for reserves was really disappointing.  I think they made errors in several spots.  These errors are the reason that I think the system just needs to be changed.
     Obviously the major plus that comes with the current system is that the NBA gets the fans involved and interested in all-star weekend.  It allows people to choose who they want to see, and that probably gets more people to watch the event.  Additionally, it allows the NBA to shift the blame on the fans and coaches for errors deciding who gets in.  But for these couple pros, there’s a lot of cons.
     Firstly, any fan vote will reward the big names.  LeBron James could sit the entire first half of the season and still be an all-star starter.  He’s just that popular.  And just in case you didn’t believe me, it’s happened.  Multiple times.  Just last year, Kobe Bryant played just six games, averaging 13 points per game.  All-star starter.  If he isn’t the top vote-getting shooting guard, the coaches aren’t voting him in.  But he was, so the coaches were put in a difficult place, having to snub someone who much deserved it.  Similarly, Yao Ming was voted into the 2011 All-Star Game despite playing only five games that year.  It also allows players on the tail end of their careers to make become all-stars, despite not really deserving it.  In 2009, Allen Iverson was an all-star, despite being at the tail end of his career and clearly not worthy of a selection.  Yet he was a starter due to his popularity.
     Also, players from big name teams are more likely to be selected as all-stars than smaller market teams.  Fans will put in almost any Laker in over a member of the Timberwolves, just because not as many people care about a team in Minnesota than one in LA, despite how good that T-Wolve might be.  This impact also extends down to the coach vote, because the coaches might want to please the fans over making the correct decision on who to select.  They get to see how many votes the fans gave each player, so they have the opportunity to please the fans.
     Here’s a rundown of the players that shouldn’t have made the all-star game.

     Western Conference: 
     OUT: a Thunder player- I just don’t believe that players who miss half the season prior to all-star voting deserve a spot.  I don’t think players can really have an impact and be the best in the league if they’re sitting on the bench.  Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have each missed a bunch of games and were put in over other players who have really good, but have meant more to their team and played every game.  If I have to choose one to omit, it’d be Russell Westbrook, but neither should be there in the first place.
     IN: Damian Lillard- Lillard averages 22 points and over six assists per game.  He means just as much to his team as almost anyone, and is seventh in the NBA in win shares, which calculates how many wins a player has contributed to his team.  He is one of the league’s most underrated players, and deserved a spot.
    OUT: Tim Duncan- Mr. Fundamentals falls into the categories of popular players and aging players who make the all-star game primarily for these reasons.  Tim has had an incredible year – for a 38 year-old, and nobody’s denying that.  He’s still a very fundamentally sound player and one of the smartest guys in the league.  He just can’t play as many minutes now, and his body is declining.  Regardless of how good he can be, there are probably three big men in the West more deserving.
     IN: DeMarcus Cousins- Seriously?  How hard could it possibly be to make an all-star game?  This guy is the only player in NBA history to have a PER of 25 twice and not be an all-star.  He has been an absolute animal averaging 23.7 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game, 7th, 3rd, and 14th in the NBA respectively.  He’s putting up numbers that some years would make him the best center in the league, yet he’s getting no credit for it.  I know he’s just been put in as Kobe Bryant’s replacement, but to me if you’re not originally in, getting put in as an alternate just isn’t the same.
     OUT: Kobe?-  Kobe has been declining pretty quickly the last couple years, and while he’s had his moments, like setting a career high for assists in a game, he’s been shooting an atrocious 37% from the field, and turning the ball over four times a game.  Some people considered him a detriment to the Lakers this season, and if I know anything, it’s that “detriment” is not a word used to describe an all-star.  He’s done great things for his age, including one of his best passing years ever, but I think the popularity contest of the fan vote is what actually got him in.
     IN: DeAndre Jordan or Zach Randolph: While still having no offensive game, Jordan has only gotten better at his strengths, leading the league in rebounds again, while also continuing to dominate the paint with 2.4 blocks per contest, second in the league.  Additionally, he’s shooting an unreal 73% from the field (although most of it is from dunks), which leads the league.  Only two other players shoot 60%.  Zach Randolph is starting to get up there in years, but he’s still a great post player, and a strong rebounder, averaging 17 and 12 per game while shooting over 50% from the field.

     Eastern Conference:
     I actually don’t have any backcourt snubs for the East.  A lot of people say Kyle Korver was snubbed, but I don’t actually agree.  Kyle Korver is on pace to have the best true shooting percentage season of all-time, and is shooting over 50% from three, along with over 90% from the line.  He could have the first ever 50-50-90 season with a 24’9″ three point line.  His year has been absolutely mental.  But he’s still just a three point shooter.  Korver is a decent rebounder and passer, decent defender, and basically decent everything else, just an incredible shooter.  When you compare him to the guys who made the team- John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and Jeff Teague, I don’t think he’s a better all around player than any of them.  I would’ve been okay with him making it over Wade or Teague, and I think he will be Wade’s injury replacement, but it’s not enough for me to call it a snub.
     OUT: Chris Bosh- Bosh has had a good year adapting to the loss of LeBron, but his defense has been lacking at times and there are some other guys who have done a better job of showing hustle and crashing the glass than Bosh, namely the guy I’m about to mention.
     IN: Nikola Vucevic- Vucevic has fallen prey to unfortunate circumstances.  1) He plays for the Magic, and they’re really bad.  2) He’s up against bigger name guys like Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, and Al Horford for his spot.  3) He has an unusual name, and although that should have nothing to do with his success, I think it makes it more difficult people to talk about him.  Regardless of why people have let him fall through the cracks, he deserves to be an all-star.  His numbers are near identical to those of Pau Gasol, who is the starting center for the East, and at 19.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, and a PER over 22, there’s no way this guy shouldn’t have been in.

     So what would I change the system to?  I’m not sure a really perfect system out there exists, but I have one that I think would be better.  I propose the vote be divided three ways: the fans get one third of the vote, the coaches get one third, and the players themselves get one third.  This way, players can vote for who they believe the best are (they are the ones playing them after all).  Maybe it’d have to be a specific group of veterans so players wouldn’t be biased, or maybe players couldn’t vote for players on their own team or some kind of distinction like that, but I think the players deserve part of the vote.
     What this system also does is allow all parties to vote independently, without knowledge of what others have voted.  This eliminates the potential influence of the fan vote on the coaches, and should result in a fairer conclusion, as where the fan vote currently is 100% of the vote for starters, it would only be 33%, so no injured player would become a starter, and hopefully no injured player would make the team.
     The system needs to be changed, it’s just a matter of what the NBA decides to do.

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