With the All-Star game nearly a fortnight away and the final ballots for voting being returned, the starters have been chosen.
With the voting system comes its flaws, for example anyone can be voted in and while the All-Star game is expected to have a star-studded line-up, it’s possible for players to be voted in that are fan-favourites for other reasons.
Take Lonzo Ball for a prime example as he managed to secure the 8th spot for guards in the West, nearly doubling the two players following, Chris Paul and Devin Booker. We can go on for days about reasons why both Booker and Paul deserve a spot above Lonzo, but it simply cannot be refuted, more fans want to see Lonzo Ball, clearly showing that popularity is more important than skill and talent when securing a place in the All-Star line-up.
Of course, in recent years we have seen many players go through the majority of their season injured and putting up average numbers following their comebacks to still be voted into the All-Star game, such as Kobe Bryant.
Kobe could easily crack an All-Star line-up in the current NBA if he had been eligible, from fan popularity alone. This was seen in full effect during the 2013/14 season when Kobe had still been voted on to the roster despite having only playing a handful of games and still being injured during the break, leading to Anthony Davis replacing Bryant.
This same issue has been exploited again this season as Demarcus Cousins, who has only recently come off injury and played three games since his comeback, had around 450,000 votes in his favour, landing him the 10th spot for frontcourt players in the West.
Popularity seems to precede talent especially when fan-favourites are in their final seasons. Take Dwyane Wade, who stands at second in votes for guards in the East with a whopping 1,738,043 votes, placing him above players such as Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker and Ben Simmons. Wade currently averages 13.8 points and 4.2 assists, which are definitely not All-Star numbers, but as previously stated, the fan vote is what matters the most. Veterans also seem to attract a number of votes as the oldest player in the league, Vince Carter, currently stands at 7th in the voting standings for frontcourt players in the East, despite averaging a mere 6.8 points per game with 1.0 assist a game, while other Hawks members such as Trae Young haven’t cracked the top ten despite having over double the point scoring numbers of Carter.
Doncic had over three million votes, placing him ahead of Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, which most would find absurd as players such as Davis regularly find themselves in MVP discussions while Doncic is merely a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Similarly, Booker averages similar numbers to Doncic and has less than half a million votes. It is pretty phenomenal that a 19-year old has had this much impact on the league and it’s clear that Doncic is cut from a different cloth as most rookies don’t show anywhere near as much raw talent as seen here.
Is Luka Doncic deserving of the votes? Really it’s up to the fans, and it’s clear Doncic is one of the most popular players heading into the All-Star weekend, but he hasn’t cracked the starting line-up, an accolade that Luka will certainly be able to achieve in the coming years, just not as a rookie.
One of the more heart-warming stories of the 2018/19 season is the comeback Rose has been able to achieve after a career full of injuries.
Once the youngest MVP in league history, Rose suffered an ACL tear which hindered his performance over the years following his injury. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this season, you know that Rose put up a career-high 50 points in a game against the Utah Jazz, a team that had previously waived D-Rose.
These are not numbers that a regular player puts up and this should be considered by fans when voting for who they want to see in the ASG, but is it going too far when Rose collects 2,712,938 votes in his favour, putting him half a million votes ahead of James Harden, who is both leading the MVP race right now and starting in the All-Star game.
Rose probably does deserve a spot in the All-Star game after some great performance, however he does currently average 18.6 points, compared to Harden’s 36.2 PPG. It’s easy to see that the 50-point game that Rose put up definitely ignited nostalgia within the fans’ minds.
With the starting line-ups announced, the two team captains have been named, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. While Giannis is clearly the most dominant player in the East and a close second in the MVP race, it is questionable whether LeBron should be the West’s leader.
Harden will start but as Harden puts up record breaking numbers this season it is worth debating whether he should captain the West.
With the All-Star game a mere couple of weeks away, it is important to reflect on the players chosen for the line-up and how they got there. This All-Star game has definitely had many controversial players voted in when compared to other games in NBA history, but at the end of the day, it is the fan’s votes that ultimately decide who deserves a spot in the All-Star game.