Fan voting is somewhat of a double-edged sword. It provides fans with the opportunity and satisfaction of selecting their favorite players to watch in the game that was truly created for them. However, it also opens the door for All-Star selections that are either outdated or because a player hails from a team in a large city. So how did the fans do this season voting for the East All-Star starters? Here’s the rundown of the conference. (Note: The NBA no longer uses traditional line-ups of PG, SG, SF, PF, C. Instead, they simply use two back-court players and three front-court players)
BACK COURT 1: JOHN WALL (Washington PG)- It’s hard to argue with John Wall here. There’s a reason he got the most votes among Eastern back court candidates. He’s averaging a double-double with 17 ppg and 10 apg (compared to Derrick Rose’s 18.2 ppg and 5.0 apg), leading the entire league in assists and assists per game. He’s played far more games than Rose and, frankly, has had a better season. Wall has his Wizards in second place in the East, just one game ahead of the Bulls, but with arguably less talent. Bottom line is Rose has probably missed a little too much time to thrust him ahead of Wall (or Lowry below). That doesn’t mean Wall wouldn’t deserve it anyway. 17 and 10 while shooting 45% (Rose is shooting 41%) and pacing a second place team is nothing to shake a stick at.
BACK COURT 2: KYLE LOWRY (Toronto PG)- Lowry got the final nod over Dwyane Wade, Rose, and Kyrie Irving for the final back court spot in the starting rotation. And Lowry might be having the best season of all four. Lowry (19. 8 ppg, 7.4 apg) may not average as many points as Irving (20.9 ppg), nor does he have the raw talent Irving possesses, but he’s far more important to his team that sits four and a half games ahead of Cleveland in third place in the East. Irving has plenty of All-Star starts ahead of him and Wade has already had his share. This year the correct nod went to Lowry. It was close, but he does more with less.
A case could be made for: Rose, Irving, Jimmy Butler, Wade. There was some push for Wade late as he finished 3rd in the voting, but the fact of the matter is he sits a lot and Miami is a pretty big disappointment. He’s having a good year, but not good enough. Butler is having a phenomenal year, but it’s hard to leave the NBA’s assist leader or the best player on a top 3 team in the conference on the outside looking in.
FRONT COURT 1: LEBRON JAMES (Cleveland F)- There’s absolutely no point making an argument for anyone else here, so it’s not going to happen. He’s the best player on the planet and if there was any disputing his importance to the Cavs it went out the window when Cleveland took a nose-dive under .500 while ‘Bron missed two weeks nursing knee and back injuries.
FRONT COURT 2: PAU GASOL (Chicago C)- Gasol is having a great year. He’s averaging a double-double at 18.4 ppg and 11.6 rpg. His presence has improved the Bulls on the offensive end of the floor. With Joakim Noah being plagued with injuries Gasol has picked up some slack on the defensive end as well. He provides a body teams have to account for down low and he can step out far enough and still be a threat to provide open space in the middle for Rose to drive to the basket. He’s been an even better fit for the Bulls than many anticipated. Can you imagine if he took less money to run the triangle for Phil Jackson in New York? Yikes. Pau made the right choice joining the Bulls and so did the fans by voting him a starter in the All-Star game.
FRONT COURT 3: CARMELO ANTHONY (New York SF)- Anthony is probably the biggest gripe one could have with the Eastern starters. He’s missed his own share of time and the Knicks are worse than awful. His scoring is down, his rebounding is down, and his overall play is no where near where it was last season. The entire year has been such a disappointment for the franchise his start in the All-Star game will no-doubt be the highlight of the season for the Knicks. But even aside from being the “host city’s guy,” has Carmelo done enough to be a starter? His 24.7 ppg is good enough for 5th in the league, so an argument can be made there. He also has the most star-appeal of the contenders left on the list in the top five. Marcin Gortat and Chris Bosh finished fourth and fifth respectively in votes among Eastern front court players. But with guys like Paul Millsap and Al Horford having the years they’re having for first place, 15-wins in a row, 36-8 Atlanta, it’s hard to believe the Hawks aren’t represented in the starting lineup and the Knicks are.
A case could be made for: Gortat, Millsap, Horford, Bosh.
This article can also be found on my blog at hackinghoops.wordpress.com
Cover photo via: defpenradio.com
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Daniel Muster