There are never enough spots to go around when the coaches mull over a list packed with deserving players for the NBA All-Star game.
The guys left out are called snubs–from being snubbed from being selected. And in the Eastern Conference, there are plenty of nameable snubs—some bigger than others.
The reserves for the East were announced on Thursday: Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, and Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks.
Overall, the coaches did a fine job of filling out the team, but there are a couple players that don’t have any business being selected and, in turn, cost the guys named below a spot in Houston.
There probably isn’t a bigger snub than Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets; in the Eastern Conference, at least.
The only logical explanation for Lopez not being chosen by the coaches is that he’s missed a few games. Still, a few games is not enough to derail his chances by even the slightest bit. Otherwise, the coaches spurned Lopez completely.
The big man out of Stanford is averaging 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in just 29 minutes per game. So yes, Lopez has been incredibly efficient and his sterling player efficiency rating (PER) of 25.28 can attest to that. To boot, his PER is the highest for any center in the NBA and is the fourth highest in the league. So in the PER department, he’s technically ahead of everyone who the coaches selected. Again, the lines just seem to match up.
Lopez doesn’t fit the bill of a “true” center, per se. He’s greatly improved his rebounding, but his style still doesn’t qualify him as a center who does the gritty work like Noah and Chandler, both of whom were selected as reserves.
However, Lopez boasts an offensive skill set that neither Noah or Chandler can come close to matching. Lopez is the 17th-best post-up player in the NBA, according to Synergy Sports, whereas Chandler doesn’t even qualify for the a ranking and Noah ranks 102nd. Last time I checked, solid offensive numbers are usually more appealing than defense and little to no offensive production.
Moreover, the Nets are indeed a winning team at 26-17. They’re currently fourth in the East, behind the Noah’s Bulls and Chandler’s Knicks by just a few percentage points. Ideally, the coaches would prefer to use this as their excuse, but they clearly can’t.
So combine Lopez’s stats, the fact that he’s argubably been the best player on a winning team and the Nets success. What you have this year’s biggest snub.
Twelve of the NBA’s top 13 scorers will be in Houston on Feb. 17. Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics, who’s 14th in the NBA in scoring, shatters that trend.
Pierce isn’t averaging in the mid-20s like he used to in his prime, but at 18.9 points per game he’s still trudging along. The career Celtic is also averaging 5.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
The one caveat that the critics could hold against Pierce is his middling PER of 19. It’s nearly a career-low and it hinges on his declining quickness and durability (career-low in minutes this season).
However, if the coaches want to pinpoint Pierce’s PER as a major defect to his All-Star candidacy, it’d behoove of them to also discuss Deng’s selection, as the Bulls forward has a mere 15.2 PER and Pierce tops him in nearly offensive and defensive category.
This isn’t to say that Deng hasn’t been a reliable asset for the Bulls. He does occasionally blow up for a high-scoring night and he’s no slouch on defense. Still, he’s not quite All-Star Game material this year.
Am I saying that Pierce is more deserving than George? Certainly not, but he doesn’t have to be. Obviously Pierce’s snub status hasn’t drawn much of a riot, but it’s at least worth noting that he would be a superior choice over Deng.
To be sure, Boozer being marked as one of the biggest snubs is debatable. The stats don’t lie, though.
Thanks to a January during which he has averaged 21.5 points per game, his season average is back up to a respectable 16.1. This has all come without a facilitator that can consistently create open shots for him in the paint and short jumpers on the wings, or in other words Derrick Rose.
Of the official All-Stars, Boozer’s closest to Bosh.
Player G GS MP FG FGA FG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS Carlos Boozer 42 42 31.5 6.8 14.2 .477 2.5 3.5 .711 2.5 7.5 10.0 2.1 0.7 0.5 2.1 2.8 16.1 Chris Bosh 39 39 33.5 6.6 12.2 .542 3.8 4.7 .815 2.1 5.2 7.2 1.7 0.8 1.4 1.8 2.6 17.2
As you can see, neither of them has a huge lead in any of the categories. Below are the advanced stats.
Player PER TS% eFG% ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg Carlos Boozer 18.1 .510 .477 9.2 26.6 18.1 13.0 1.2 1.2 11.7 25.9 103 98 Chris Bosh 21.0 .605 .551 7.8 17.6 13.0 8.6 1.3 3.3 11.3 22.8 117 104
Again, there aren’t many differences. Bosh owns advantages in the shooting departments, but Boozer has been a better rebounder and defender.
There’s one reason why I give Boozer the nod over Bosh–he’s stepped up when the Bulls needed him to. Without Rose, the Bulls seemed set up for failure, as they wouldn’t have a go-to guy or anyone to rely on consistently. Instead, they were expected to have a bunch of players who can’t create their owns shots. Luckily for them, Boozer saved the day.
Bosh, meanwhile, doesn’t have much pressure to score a big sum of points. He has LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to anchor the Heat’s scoring duties, so he simply lets the game come to him. Boozer’s and Bosh’s usage rates justify this.
Yes, the Heat do own a better record than the Bulls, but without Boozer stepping up on cue, the Bulls wouldn’t be competing for a top seed in the East.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference, Synergy Sports and ESPN.
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