NBA officials instituted a new method for selecting starters to the upcoming All-Star Game in New Orleans.
They might want to go back to the drawing board and do some tweaking.
Instead of just letting the fans select the five starters for the Eastern and Western conference all-star teams again, the NBA decided to throw a bone to the players and media.
On the surface, it seemed like a wonderful idea. After all, the players and media see far more games than the vast majority of fans. By having input of the players and media, there wouldn’t be any of the egregious errors of past all-star voting.
The exclusion of Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s phenomenal guard, from the Western Conference starting lineup may have been the biggest miscarriage of justice ever in the voting process.
Under normal circumstances, Houston’s James Harden and Golden State’s Steph Curry – the West’s starting backcourt — would have been the perfect picks. After all, they are exceptional talents.
But this season is all about Westbrook. What he is doing isn’t just incredible, it’s historical. He has a legitimate shot of having a triple-double season – he’s currently averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists — something that hasn’t been accomplished since 1962 by the legendary Oscar Robertson
The players and media duly recognized Westbrook’s brilliance this season; they both ranked him as the top backcourt player in the West in their respective voting.
But the fans, who counted toward 50 percent of the voting in comparison to 25 percent each for the players and media — ranked Westbrook third – behind Harden and Curry.
Westbrook’s omission as a starter rankled many in the pro basketball community. Tweeted Westbrook’s Thunder teammate and noted mathematician Enes Kanter:
All-Star starters (COMBINED)=19 Russ=21.’’
Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn “Doc’’ Rivers said he was stunned by Westbrook’s snub: “I am just shocked the fans don’t see the same things we do.’’
But the fans aren’t the only ones who should be assessed a flagrant foul; the players should be thrown out of the voting game completely after their voting debut. Plain and simple, the players, many of whom who used to whine about the fans’ choices, made a mockery of the All-Star voting process. To wit:
- The players cast votes for 77 different Western Conference frontcourt players. Repeat, 77. In contrast, the media felt just nine Western Conference frontcourt players were worthy of All-Star consideration.
- The players cast six votes for Milwaukee’s Michael Beasley and that was the 19th most votes among Eastern Conference frontcourt players. Beasley hasn’t started a game this season; he plays an average of 17 minutes a game, or not even half a game. Yet, Beasley got the same number of votes as Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat and more than Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka.
- Bucks swingman Khris Middleton got two votes. He hasn’t played a single game. Mo Williams, Brice Johnson and Quincy Pondexter haven’t hit the floor this season either, and they also got votes.
- Just three players voted for Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder, who is unquestionably the major reason Atlanta has the fourth-best record in the East. Schroder, who is averaging 17.5 points, 6.1 assists and has the second-best field-goal percentage among point guards at .475, got one more vote than Philadelphia’s Jerryd Bayless, who has played all of three games this season, and Milwaukee reserve guard Jason Terry. (Speaking of Milwaukee, why was Giannis Antetokoumnpo listed among frontcourt players on the ballot when everyone knows he’s the Bucks’ point guard?)
Which brings us to the media’s role in the voting. If you listen to Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, members of the Fifth Estate blew their assignment as well.
It was the media, Anthony asserted, that kept him out of the Eastern Conference starting lineup.
Said Anthony, while talking with some scribes: “Nah, I wasn’t expecting you guys to vote me in to be honest, to be quite honest.’’
For the record, the media didn’t think much of Anthony’s game this season – as did many disgruntled Madison Garden fans – and ranked him 12th among Eastern Conference frontcourt fans.
But even the fans, and perhaps more importantly his peers, didn’t believe Anthony should be an All-Star starter: The players and fans each ranked Anthony sixth. The players even voted Anthony’s teammate, Kristaps Porzingis, ahead of him.
Anthony shouldn’t be overly upset, though. It could have been worse – He could have been Westbrook.