All-Star for Anyone!

By Colin Reno | USA

The NBA’s All-Star break is rounding the corner and in the past few days fans and players have been in anticipation of the All-Star rosters. On Tuesday, the final reserve lineups were released by the association.

The West is featured with a starting lineup of Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins. The bench is stacked with Klay Thompson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, Damian Lillard and Draymond Green.

The East will be seen with starters of Kyrie Irving, Damar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Joel Embiid, the bench consisting of Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal, Kevin Love, John Wall, Al Horford, Kyle Lowery and Kristaps Porzingis.

Even though the All-Star game is a very low-stakes game, the label of “All-Star” is a very prestigious honor and is earned by over-stellar performances throughout the first half of the regular season. We have seen legends consistently get drafted to participate in this game, players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neil, John Stockton, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, etc.

The All-Star game is supposed to display the players with the best individual seasons facing off against each other on the court, but occasionally we will see a player(s) get snubbed out of participation and are replaced by someone who is having a far worse statistical season. This is bluntly obvious in this year’s All-Star selections, especially in the Western Conference.

2018 was the first year we have seen four players from the same team get inducted into All-Star game in consecutive seasons. However, one of these players is very undeserving of this honor. With a season average of 11.3 points per game (ppg), 7.9 rebounds per game (RPG), and 7.6 assists per game (APG), we’ve witnessed Draymond Green become inducted into his third straight All-Star game.

This stat line is very embarrassing to the stature of this prestigious honor, especially when there were better players who are all having significantly better seasons than Draymond. The first, Lou Williams, is taking the biggest fall from being snubbed. Lou is currently averaging 23.3 ppg, 2.6 RPG, and 5.1 APG, all of which are great improvements to his career averages of 13.4 ppg, 2.1 RPG, and 3.0 APG. He was traded in the offseason to the LA Clippers from the Houston Rockets, and since then he’s taken a significant role in the Clippers offense, similarly to Victor Oladipo vastly improving with a trade, which landed him an All-Star spot in the East.

This season NBA fans were amazed when Lou scored a career high 50 points during a matchup against the star packed Golden State Warriors. At 31 years of age, “Sweet Lou” is no longer a highly sought-after talent, since his theoretical “prime” has already passed. That being said, an appearance in this year’s All-Star game could’ve significantly raised his marketability amongst the league, which would not only benefit Lou in his hopes of winning and NBA Championship, but also benefit the Clippers, since they would be able to receive younger talent and draft picks in exchange for Lou, which would sky rocket the future of the team rebuild in LA.

This kind of stat line could easily put any other player in the All- Star game, but Lou Williams is not a “household name” because he normally is a sixth-man for mediocre teams.

However, this next player is very well-known, a nine-time All-Star, an All-Star game MVP and arguably one of the best point guards of all time. Chris Paul, point guard for the Houston Rockets, is currently averaging 19.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and 8.9 apg, all of which are very close to his career averages of 18.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 9.9 apg, which have led him to nine appearances for the Western Conference All-Stars in his 13-year career. He has become the secondary scoring option and primary facilitator on a 33-12 Rockets team who currently hold the second-best record in the Western Conference. The player has also led his team to a 2-0 record against the Warriors who hold the best record in the NBA at 37-10.

If Draymond hasn’t had that great of a season why was he selected to the All-Star game? Marketing. Draymond plays for a power house Warriors team, who have consistently been the best team in the NBA for the past few seasons. Consequently, Draymond’s team and on court antics have made him a very marketable player in the league. Ejections, technical fouls, social media “trolling”, and kicking have defined Draymond’s career in the past three seasons, all of which have given him relevance around the league, despite mediocre numbers on the court.

The league has been rewarding Draymond’s actions with All-Star appearances and “super stardom”, which could negatively impact the future of the league because purposefully kicking your opponents’ genitals on multiple occasions is not a good example to the youth watching the games. This relevance has extended to the fans as well, thus we’ve have seen an increase in his fan votes for the All-Star game, which has allowed for players such as Chris Paul and Lou Williams to be stripped of one career defining statistic, being named an All-Star.

Lastly, the future of the league could be in jeopardy because of the constant selection of mediocre talent to the All-Star game virtually because of the team they play for. Us fans could easily see more players deciding to form “super-teams” in order to achieve every human beings dream, stardom. More “super teams” would further divide the competition level in the NBA, leading to more blowout wins and an unappealing playoff picture. Which would you rather see, an NBA Finals sweep or a blown 3-1 lead?