Last night on TNT the starters for the 2017 NBA All-Star game were announced. For the Eastern Conference, it went Kyrie Irving and Demar DeRozan in the backcourt, and then LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler for the frontcourt. For the Western Conference, it went Stephen Curry and James Harden in the backcourt, and then Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis for the frontcourt.
The two most notable names kept off the starting teams were Isaiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook. The new voting system for the All-Star game allowed some players to get an extra boost, like Isaiah with the player and media vote. Isaiah would not have come in a close third place in votes behind DeRozan for the backcourt if it wasn’t for those votes. If it were just up to the fans, he would’ve been fourth behind Dwyane Wade. Since he got 40,000 fewer fan votes, he was snubbed from the starting lineup. All three guards in the West got the same score as far as voting goes, but since Westbrook got the least amount of fan votes, he was snubbed.
I love the new voting system. I really do like the direction in which the league is going, but when Zaza Pachulia was one of the leading vote-getters for the West, it made me realize how bad fan voting can be. Zaza should not get a starting nod over someone like Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard. Zaza and the words “All-Star” shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence. Media and player votes help the players who may not be the most popular around the league get some more recognition and help boost their chances of being a starter. In this case, it helped Isaiah and Westbrook get a better chance of starting, but it wasn’t enough.
So exactly how did this happen? Why did the two best guards in the league get snubbed from starting the All-Star game? The fans. The fans didn’t vote for Westbrook or Thomas enough for them to start. I’m not here to say anything bad about Kyrie or Steph, who I believe are the two guards that shouldn’t have been named starters, but Westbrook and Thomas are FAR more deserving.
First, let’s start with Isaiah. He’s an MVP candidate, top 5-6 if you ask me. He leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring. He’s fourth in the league in scoring with 28.7 ppg and is only .2 points behind second-place James Harden. He’s averaging six assists per game and has a PER of 27.12. I’m just going to let this picture do all the explaining for me.
No disrespect to Kyrie Irving, but Isaiah is more deserving of the starting role in the All-Star game. His stats are better, and although his team isn’t the one-seed in the East, he doesn’t have two other superstars around him. What Isaiah does on the court is magic, and not many can replicate it. It’s a shame that the All-Star game is where the “popular players” are given more attention than the players that actually deserve that attention. It’s always been a popularity contest, and it’s sad that the best players in the league don’t always get the recognition they deserve. All this does is add another chip on Isaiah’s shoulder. He was picked last in the draft and wasn’t selected as a starter. Good luck to any team on the Celtics’ radar, Isaiah’s coming for you.
Russell Westbrook, the man that’s leading the league in scoring and averaging a damn triple-double, isn’t starting in the All-Star game. Need I say more? I really don’t think I have to. He has more combined triple-doubles than the rest of the All-Star starters COMBINED, and he isn’t starting in the damn game. I know triple-doubles aren’t everything, but come on. He’s a walking triple-double and has averages of 30.6 points, 10.4 assists, and 10.6 rebounds per game. I don’t care if his team hasn’t won a single game all year, he should be starting in the All-Star game. Steph Curry’s stats aren’t anywhere near Westbrook’s. Perks of being on a super team, I guess.
Of course, the players don’t care too much if they’re voted in as starters or not, but sometimes it’s ridiculous that some players like these two are snubbed. I said I like the direction in which the league is going as far as how the starters are voted in, but maybe a little more work is needed. A world where Zaza Pachulia receives more fan votes than Isaiah Thomas and nearly the same amount as Russell Westbrook is a world I don’t want to live in. It’s just ridiculous. But like said before, something like this only fuels the fire of the players that were snubbed.