All-Star snubs worth swearing about
PUT aside your trade rumors and Cavaliers drama for a moment.
The NBA has announced the All-Star reserves for the league's marquee event in Los Angeles on February 18 - which means it's time to debate whether the coaches, who make the selections, got it "right," to incessantly argue over the most important criteria, and to once again be reminded of the fact the Warriors have a lot of good players.
Truth is: There are no right and wrong answers.
When it comes to filling the last few spots, it's a toss-up. I sympathize with those forced to actually confront these decisions, especially given how much weight being an All-Star tends to carry in terms of one's legacy.
Despite some wrinkles to the overall format - it is no longer East vs West, in case you haven't heard - picks were made using the same guidelines: Two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild cards, with the same number coming from each conference.
West: Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns
East: Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford, Kevin Love, John Wall, Bradley Beal
Those 14 will join the starters, revealed last week:
West: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins
East: Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid
And now, the notable snubs (three from the East, three from the West):
1. Rockets point guard Chris Paul
Perhaps the most surprising omission is CP3, a nine-time All-Star averaging 19.1 points, 8.9 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals for the second best team in the NBA. Working against him? The fact that he missed 17 games due to injury and plays in the same conference as an abundance of talented guards.
Lillard, who seemingly got the nod over Paul, has led the Blazers to a 25-22 ledger with an equally impressive line: 25.2 points, 6.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds per contest.
2. Thunder forward Paul George
George's scoring average (20.9) has taken a noticeable dip, as the 27-year-old has adjusted to playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. Yet PG-13 is shooting a career-best 43 percent from beyond the arc and having a remarkable season on the other end, ranking second in steals per game (2.1) and sixth in defensive win shares (2.5).
His strong case was likely hampered by Oklahoma City's inconsistent performance and somewhat underwhelming record (27-20), as well as having to compete with guys like Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green for a spot.
3. Clippers guard Lou Williams
The former Sixth Man of the Year definitely put himself in the conversation for his first All-Star bid. Williams has been the best player on a Clippers team that is somehow 23-23 despite injuries to, well, basically everyone else on their roster.
Appearing in 45 of 46 games to this point, Williams is posting career highs in points (23.3), assists (5.1) and 3-point percentage (41 percent). He has scored 30 or more on 14 occasions, including a 50-point outburst in a win over the Warriors on Jan. 10.
4. Pistons centre Andre Drummond
Drummond was a bit less subtle in his response. "Gotta be f***ing kidding me lol," he said.
The big man has a valid argument, as he is averaging 14.3 points and a league-leading 15.0 rebounds to go along with 1.2 blocks and 1.5 steals on a Detroit squad that has looked dangerous at times. After shooting under 42 percent from the stripe in his first five seasons, Drummond has upped his mark to 63 percent.
5. Heat guard Goran Dragic
Averaging 17.3 points (a team high), 4.9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds, Dragic has been Miami's most reliable contributor. If you value wins over stats, then the Slovenian made a solid candidate. The Heat are currently fourth in the East with a 27-20 record, just half a game behind the star-studded Cavaliers.
6. 76ers guard Ben Simmons
The Process is finally emerging, and the rookie Simmons is a major reason why. At 21, the first-overall pick in 2016 is nearly averaging a triple-double (16.3 points, 7.2 assists and 7.9 rebounds) and still doesn't have a jump shot.