Greetings! As the NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday evening, my mind immediately went to the snubs. This is probably an out-of-line reaction, but some of the best NBA chatter centers around arguments for the All-Star team, and this year was no different. We’ll get to the snubs (the top five in each conference), but first let’s take a quick look at the actual rosters:
Starters: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard
Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, James Harden, Lamarcus Aldridge, David Lee, Zach Randolph, Tim Duncan
Starters: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett
Reserves: Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, Paul George, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler
If you’re looking for a more “in-depth” look at the guys who actually were chosen, be on the look-out for a breakdown from Wesley Morton, but I’m going to focus in on the guys who were left off. Let’s go.
EAST SNUBS (in order of slight!)
1) Brook Lopez – This one blew me away. Lopez is currently #2 in the entire conference in PER, and has been easily the best player on the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. He’s one of the best offensive big men in the league, and his defense has been markedly better this season. Most of all, he’s rebounding at a rate of 10.1 per 40 minutes, which is very, very solid compared to his struggles so far in his career. I firmly believe that he got the shaft due to his reputation from previous years, but if you take a look at this season only, it’s a travesty that he didn’t make it over guys like Noah and Deng.
2) Al Horford – With all bias aside, Al Horford is simply a better basketball player than Joakim Noah, and I don’t understand the Noah love. Horford is far more versatile (and honestly, better) offensive player, and the advantage that Noah has on the glass is minimal. In addition, Horford is anchoring the Hawks front-line without the benefit of other front-court studs like Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson, and frankly has a larger burden to carry in Atlanta than Noah has in Chicago. If the Hawks had kept their winning percentage up, I think Horford would’ve gotten the love, but it certainly hasn’t been his fault. Throw in a higher PER (18.28 vs. 16.97) and it’s an even easier choice.
3) Paul Pierce – After the top 2 guys on this list, I don’t see any of the others as “true” snubs, but Paul Pierce is the next deserving guy. Pierce is Pierce, and that’s normally good enough to make the all-star team. It was basically a battle between him and Paul George, and while Pierce has the better numbers, George got very hot as we got closer to the half-way point, and Indiana has a 5-game lead on Boston. There are few more reliable scorers in the league than Pierce, and while his age is getting up there (and his game is even uglier now), he still brings it. Would have been a deserving candidate without question.
4) Deron Williams – In my own personal selections, Williams made the team, and I got a lot of “huh?!” responses. I realize that Williams is having his worst season since 2006-2007 (his second year in the league), and he got his coach fired. I really do. That said, the guy has a higher PER than Paul George, he’s 3rd in the East in assists, and he’s the engine of a #3 seed. It’s certainly not the sexy pick after the way he’s played, but his “bad season” is still pretty darn effective.
5) David West – With the way Paul George has been playing for the past few weeks, he was probably the right Pacer to be chosen, but David West is having a great year. He’s got a higher PER than 6 guys on the team (Holiday, George, Garnett, Noah, Deng, Rondo) and he’s one of the most deadly pick-n-pop guys in the league. He’ll never receive the recognition he deserves for being the steadying force on that Indiana team simply because he couldn’t be less flashy, but if you need a bucket, you’re safe to go to David West from 15 feet. Always underrated.
WEST SNUBS (in order of slight!)
1) Marc Gasol – I think they took the wrong Memphis big man. This is no slight against Zach Randolph, who is having another great season (averaging 16 and 12), but Gasol is the better and more valuable player to me. Gasol is an absolutely elite defensive player who runs the show defensively for that team. Throw in his PER edge over Randolph (slight, but still) and he got the short end. This will be one that doesn’t get the publicity nationally because Z-Bo’s “standard” numbers are better than Gasol’s, but if you factor his overall efficiency with his excellent defense (versus average at best from Randolph), they missed here.
2) Stephen Curry – I have a feeling that this snub will get the most love nationally, but it’s also the easiest to explain. I would ask anyone (I’m looking at you, Charles Barkley) that would listen about who exactly they wanted Curry to replace? The coaches weren’t going to select more than three reserve guards in the big-dominant West, and Westbrook, Harden, and Parker are all having elite seasons. That said, Curry has been absolutely tremendous and it’s really a shame that he couldn’t make the squad. 21 points, 7 assists, and ridiculous long-range shooting are usually enough to get you there, but Curry fell just short. Just imagine if he can get an uptick on his career-low 43.6% field goal percentage in the second half.
3) Serge Ibaka – Again, we’ve reached the point where these guys aren’t really true snubs for me, but they certainly were deserving. Ibaka has taken a giant leap forward this season, and with the added responsibility that he’s taken on in the absence of James Harden, there is real development. He’s posted career-highs in scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and minutes played in anchoring the front-line of the West’s best team. His defensive impact can’t be measured fully, but his 2.8 blocks per game certainly tell some of the story. It wouldn’t be tough to make the argument for Serge over David Lee and/or Zach Randolph, and it’s personal preference at this point. Forget the numbers and measure the overall impact.
4) Al Jefferson – If you’re a PER snob like me, it’s tough to ignore Jefferson and the #5 guy Paul Millsap. Big Al is sporting a PER north of 20, and features one of, if not the, best post games in the business. 17 points and 8 rebounds in 33 minutes a game is no joke, but he does get docked for his sub-par (though improved) defense. It doesn’t help that Millsap has also been tremendous and likely stole votes from him, and the Jazz are only in the 7th spot in the West. I’m a big fan of Big Al, but it’s tough to see him getting the nod over the guys who made it, and he falls behind Gasol and Ibaka among the guys left off.
5) Paul Millsap – Same story as Jefferson, except different reasons for his limitations. Millsap is a pure energy forward who has really, really impressed me over the years. His pure numbers don’t blow you away (15 points and 8 rebounds) and that is probably what keeps him from going higher, but his minutes are low (only 30 a game) and he’s very, very efficient. He’s a better all-court player than Jefferson, but with the dominance that Al has in one area, Millsap lags just slightly behind in value. Absolutely stellar player for the Jazz, though.
Do you agree or disagree with the snub list?
Let the debate begin (or continue)…