Every year, at the end of January, the Eastern and Western All-Star Teams are announced. Last week, the starters in each conference were announced.
In the East, the starters are John Wall (Wizards), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), LeBron James (Cavaliers), Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), and Pau Gasol (Bulls).
The starters out West are Stephen Curry (Warriors), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Blake Griffin (Clippers), and Marc Gasol (Grizzlies).
Last night, the reserves were announced for each conference as well.
In the East, the reserves are Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Al Horford (all from the Hawks), Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (both from the Heat), Jimmy Butler (Bulls), and Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers).
In the West, the reserves are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (both from the Thunder), James Harden (Rockets), Chris Paul (Clippers), Klay Thompson (Warriors), LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), and Tim Duncan (Spurs).
Every year, there is excitement over who is announced. However, with that excitement comes some questioning over some of the All-Star snubs. This year is no different, as there were a good amount of deserving candidates who did not make the field. Without further ado, here are the most deserving candidates in each conference who will not be headed to New York for All-Star Weekend.
(Note: Kobe Bryant will miss the game due to injury, and Dwyane Wade is also likely to miss the game. DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings, who was previously on this list, has already been pegged to replace Bryant).
Snub: Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks
When you look at Korver’s scoring numbers, you definitely do not think of an All-Star caliber player. He’s averaging 13 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists – numbers of a good role player, but definitely not someone who would typically get All-Star consideration.
The reason Korver should have made the All-Star game is the fact that he is having, arguably, the best shooting season in NBA history. He is currently shooting 52% from the field, 53% (!!!) from three, and 92% from the line. If he ends the season with those numbers, he will be the first in NBA history to do so (a 50-50-90 season). His shooting is so lethal that teams game-plan to prevent Korver from shooting, which frees up space for the rest of the Hawks to do work.
It has been great for them thus far, as they are 30 games over .500 and are 7 games up on the rest of the pack in the East. Korver has been no small part of that and should have been an All-Star for his work. Hopefully, if Wade has to be replaced due to his injury, Korver will finally get the spot he deserves.
Snub: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
Yeah, Vucevic has been on a bad Orlando team this year, but he has been fantastic. He’s averaging 19.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2 assists per game this year. You know how many players other than him are averaging at least 19, 11, and 2?
In the West, Vucevic wouldn’t even be anywhere near consideration, but in the East, he has a strong case. His stats are similar to those of Chris Bosh, and many people believe Bosh won the “tiebreaker” due to his career accomplishments or the fact that he’s a bigger name. Regardless, Vucevic could have and should have been included in this year’s field.
Snub: Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have the 6th best record in the conference at the moment. If someone would have said in July that midway through the season, the Bucks would be 6th in the East, I would have called them crazy.
But here they are.
Obviously, Jason Kidd deserves a ton of credit, as he has kept the Bucks afloat despite losing Jabari Parker for the season. But a lot of the credit has to go to Knight as well. He is having his best season by far, averaging 17.9 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, all career highs.
Like Vucevic, Knight’s case would be nonexistent in the West, but someone from the East had to make it, right? He deserved consideration just because his argument was as good, if not better, than Wade’s argument to make the team. Regardless, if Knight continues his strong play into next season, he will have a much better chance at making the team.
Snub:Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
This one is just confounding. I understand the whole argument about the Western Conference, but come on. Lillard has been fantastic. He’s having a better season than last season, and his Blazers are among the best teams in the league.
Lillard is scoring 21.8 points per game, grabbing 4.6 rebounds per game (both career highs), and dishing 6.2 assists per game. He also has tremendously improved his defense, as he’s averaging a career high 1.3 steals and his defensive rating is down from 110 last season to 103.
The problem is that the field in the West is so stacked and leaving anyone off for Lillard seemed to be a problem. He was definitely deserving, but I’m just not sure who else they could have left off the team.
Snub: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
The always steady, always underrated Conley has been as good as he’s ever been this year, and has led the Grizzlies to a fantastic record thus far. I think it’s unfortunate that the Grizzlies only got one All-Star, while the Thunder are sitting outside of the playoff picture and got two (granted, injuries have ravaged that team, but considering they happened to Durant and Westbrook, wouldn’t one think that it might affect their status for the game?).
Conley is averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. Those numbers aren’t blowing anyone away, but they don’t tell the whole story. He is gritty, is a great team player, and his team does a lot better when he is on the floor versus when he is off of it.
Conley has had a very good career overall, but has not made an All-Star game. At some point in his career, he needs to be rewarded with an All-Star berth. It should have been this year.
Snub: Monta Ellis/Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
It’s not that Ellis or Nowitzki specifically were snubbed – it’s more that no one on the Mavericks got a bid at all. The Mavericks, while only 7th in the West, are sitting at 30-17 and have the second-highest scoring offense in the NBA – you know, the stuff that usually gets rewarded when it comes to All-Star selections.
Nowitzki and Ellis both had interesting cases, but each could have been selected. After all, Ellis owns the somewhat dubious distinction of being the leading scorer in NBA history among players to never make an All-Star team. I’m sure he doesn’t want that mantra anymore, and he deserves to shed it.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, is a 12-time All-Star who is probably the best international player in NBA history, and this may be it for him. While he probably will play another season or two after this, it probably won’t be at an All-Star level anymore.
Either way, the Mavericks should have had at least one All-Star this season. They were playing well enough as a team, and both Ellis and Nowitzki were deserving.