By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) All-Star “snubs” and “surprises” happen every year.
Some players get named to the All-Star roster based on name recognition alone, while others—even when they are putting up “career numbers”—won’t even sniff the game.
This season is no exception.
Let’s start in with the Eastern Conference.
I don’t have a problem with Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Dwyane Wade being named starters for the East, but Carmelo Anthony?
What in the hell has he done for the New York Knicks this season besides lead them to an 11-15 record in a less-than-spectacular Atlantic Division? Score points? So what. He scored in Denver too, but his 22.3 ppg this year is his lowest offensive output since his second year in the league back in 2004-05, when he averaged 20.8 ppg. Should he be an All-Star? I guess so. But a starter? No way.
The Atlanta Hawks have had to deal with some key injuries this season—namely to Al Horford—but surprisingly, they are just a half game behind the Indiana Pacers for the fourth seed in the East with a 17-9 record. Does Joe Johnson deserve most of the credit for keeping the Hawks afloat?
I don’t think so.
If a player from Atlanta had to be named to the All-Star Game it should have been forward Josh Smith. The only statistical category Joe Johnson leads for the Hawks is scoring (18.6 ppg). Josh Smith, on the other hand, is averaging almost as many points per game as Johnson (15.6) and leads the team in rebounds (8.9) and blocks (2.0). If those aren’t “All-Star numbers”, then what are?
Speaking of “huh?” moments, how is Indiana Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert going to the All-Star Game over Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe?
If we are comparing seasons between the two former Georgetown Hoyas, the man from Mo-Town wins in a landslide. I understand that the Pistons are horrible, but so are the New Jersey Nets and Deron Williams made the roster. Monroe is averaging more points per game (16.4) than Hibbert (13.6), and more rebounds, steals, and assists.
If I had to replace Hibbert with another Indiana Pacer (they do deserve to have an All-Star), Danny Granger would have been the better pick. Otherwise, you have to go with Greg Monroe.
So what about the Western Conference roster?
Unlike the East, I don’t have a problem with any of the starters. Kobe Bryant is still Kobe Bryant. Andrew Bynum is having his best season as a Laker. Chris Paul is having an MVP-type season with the Clippers. Blake Griffin is a highlight reel (fans like that) waiting to happen, and Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the NBA.
But there are some reserves that don’t deserve to be there. Namely, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Don’t get me wrong; I love me some Dirk.
But when the man himself admits that he doesn’t deserve a spot on the West roster, you know he doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star.
If there is one thing I hate the most when it comes to All-Star games—regardless of sport—it is that some players are voted in based on career achievements and name recognition.
Sure they are just exhibition games–and the fans want to see the biggest names in the game–but I hate seeing guys that are having great seasons not being rewarded for their play during that particular season.
So instead of Mr. Nowitzki, why not Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap?
The Jazz have performed well beyond expectations this season and a lot of that success can be attributed to Millsap. He is second on the team in scoring (16.5), first in rebounds (9.7), and first in steals. Without Millsap, there is no way Utah is 13-11 and sitting in the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
The “name recognition” argument could also be said about Phoenix point guard Steve Nash and San Antonio point guard Tony Parker.
Based on name recognition alone, Nash and Parker are All-Stars every day.
But if we are talking about the 2011-12 season, then I say “no way”.
Instead of Steve Nash, what about Houston Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry?
Sure Kevin Martin is the main scoring threat for the Rockets, but if it wasn’t for Lowry, Houston is not 16-11 and sitting in the fourth seed out West.
Lowry does a little bit of everything; He is third on the team in scoring (14.7), tied for second in rebounds with Luis Scola (5.7), leads the team in assists (7.6), and leads the team in steals (2.0). With that kind of production, people should be mentioning Lowry for league MVP honors, and anytime you are putting up MVP numbers, you should be an All-Star.
Since I am replacing Nash with Lowry, who takes Tony Parker’s spot?
How about Golden State Warrior Monte Ellis.
If anything, I like Ellis because he is a scoring machine.
He has never met a shot he doesn’t like–and when he gets it going–there aren’t many scorers that are better. But while Ellis is synonymous with putting the ball through the hoop, leading Golden State at twenty-two points per game (which is also good enough for the sixth best average in the Western Conference), he is also second on the team behind Stephen Curry in assists (6.1) and steals (1.68). Tony Parker, on the other hand, is averaging more assists per game than Ellis.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.