• OTG Staff

Round-Table: All-Star Starter Snubs

Our staffs tell you who was snubbed as an NBA All-Star starter.

Jonathan Ebrahimi (@awrashoo) : For starters, I think we all agree that Westbrook was snubbed this year. He’s keeping a largely under-talented Thunder team in the thick of the playoff hunt and is putting up historically great numbers to do it. Out East, there are two players I feel have been overlooked. For starters, Isaiah Thomas has been having a wonderful season for Boston. His team is winning and he’s the main reason why. It’s not that Kyrie hasn’t been great but he obviously isn’t the main reason why Cleveland is winning, and to be fair the Cavs have been a little disappointing in their championship defense. Another overlooked player is Paul Millsap. Although Jimmy Butler and Giannis Antetokounmpo have been better statistically speaking, Millsap has been solid and the Hawks have a winning record.

Romana Bholat (@Ro_ma_na): Every upcoming All-Star weekend gives us a few snubs for the big mid-season game that gets fans all over the world ranting to anyone who will listen.

This season is of no exception.

What I consider to be the biggest NBA All-Star snub of ALL TIME (yeah, I said it), is Russell Westbrook’s absence from the starting five for the Western Conference.

This guy is averaging a triple-double(!) on the season, leading his team to the thick of the playoff mix in a competitive conference, and climbing the all-time ranks on a nightly basis. No player is embodying the moniker of NBA All-Star better than Russell Westbrook.

It’s no secret that the fan voting for All-Star starters can often be seen as a glorified popularity contest, which is unfortunate for players such as Westbrook, who are left out of their rightful starting positions on a special night.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what Westbrook does off the bench in this year’s big exhibition game. As if this guy needed more fuel for his fire, right?

Marc Cantave (@GladiatorGuru21): The basketball world is buzzing about Russell Westbrook being the biggest snub and he certainly was, but a player that wasn’t talked about enough is Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. In my opinion, he’s just as big of a snub as Westbrook is. As of 1/24/17, Thomas is averaging 29 points and 6 assists per game. That definitely deserves an all-star nod over Kyrie Irving who is averaging 24 points per game. Thomas is single-handedly carrying the Celtics to the top of the East, while Westbrook is trying to remain in the playoff picture. Both of these players deserved to start, but I think it’s more egregious that Thomas isn’t starting.

Théo Salaun (@TheoSalaun): To select this year's All-Star Game starters, the NBA is using an algorithm that weighs fan, media, and player ballots. This compromise let the fans cheat Russell Westbrook out of starting while allowing the media to cheat the fans out of their dream tip-off between Joel Embiid and Zaza Pachulia.

Westbrook is literally averaging a triple-double this season (31p/11r/10a), winning him 167 player votes and 93 media votes. Also winning him a chance to watch Stephen Curry from the bench. A guy overexerting his way to a historic season is not starting because the fans prefer a guy on a super-team who got 265% less player votes and 1550% less media votes.

Meanwhile, after being rewarded with a great season from Joel Embiid following years of patience and the loss of Sam Hinkie’s job: fans will get to watch Jimmy Butler start in his stead because Joel’s 230,000 extra fan votes were outweighed by Jimmy’s 64 media votes.

Zaza, a hero to his homeland of Georgia (population: ~4.5 million), got 1.5 million fan votes. Literally one-third of a country voted for Zaza, giving him about half-a-million more votes than Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. Yet they will start over him because of the media vote. Compromise sucks.

Dicky Fung(@fungo24): Russell Westbrook is on pace to do what Oscar Robertson did nearly 50 years ago, averaging a triple double for an entire season. It’s the most obvious snub because the Oklahoma City Thunder is a playoff team. Westbrook is leading the Thunder to a 26-19 record, good for 6th seed in the tough Western Conference. There’s no reason how a player who is averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game to not be named the starter for the All-Star game. It’s a slap in the face, whether Westbrook denies it or not. It’s a sign of disrespect. There’s no other player who is doing more for his team than Westbrook. Most don’t understand that Russ probably HAS to put up triple doubles for them to have a chance to win every night. Just imagine where the Thunder would be without Russell Westbrook.

I get it, Stephen Curry is still one of the best players in this league. However, he’s not even the best player on his own team. The MVP race has been a 2 man race all season with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Nobody else comes close. The backcourt of Russell Westbrook and James Harden should’ve been the obvious choice to be your starters in New Orleans, and the NBA has really dropped the ball on this one.

Kyle Lowry really gets no love at all. He is averaging 22.2 points, 7.1 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Lowry has also been efficient at 47.8 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from deep. He’s the key plug to the Raptors success. Did people forget he’s the point guard?

According to Basketball-Reference.com, Lowry leads all guards in the Eastern Conference in win shares of 7.4. Yes, better than Kyrie Irving. Better than Isaiah Thomas. Better than his teammate DeMar DeRozan. I love what DeRozan has become this season, and I credit him for working his butt off in the offseason. He’s a great scorer who has elevated his mid-range game to perfection. But points are a bit overrated if that’s your main role on the team. DeRozan would’ve still made the team as a reserve anyway. Toronto is 28-14 and while DeRozan plays a huge part in their success, Lowry is the general of that team.

Kyle Lowry should’ve been the Raptor in the starting lineup, not DeRozan.

Justin Conway (@jcon34): In my view, the new system for the ASG voting worked pretty well. Besides the the omission of Russell Westbrook in the starting 5, the starters for the West are on point. The five of Curry, Harden, Durant, Kawhi, and Anthony Davis is tough to argue with. Which is why my biggest snub is for the starters in the East. Joel “The Process” Embiid definitely got snubbed. Despite playing only 25 mpg, Embiid has completely energized and revitalized that 76ers squad. They are red hot right now and it is not unfathomable they can make the playoffs. Despite his minutes restriction, Embiid is averaging 20 ppg in 25 minutes. If the rookie was playing a normal superstar’s workload, Embiid’s production would be truly scary (28.3 pts, 8.3 reb, 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes). He has transformed that 76ers squad into a respectable team overnight. In my opinion, that impact has been much greater than Jimmy Butler’s (Fighting for 8th spot) and he should be rewarded for it.

Michael Lynch (@wordpressmike): The obvious choice is Russell Westbrook. The guy is has more triple doubles than all of the other starters combined (that includes LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis).

The biggest snub of the East is Isaiah Thomas. He is leading the NBA in 4th quarter scoring.

I will say though, the biggest surprise to me was the banana boat party snub. The All-Star starters are a popularity contest, and I can’t believe that the fans didn’t vote Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Paul in. It’s not exactly a snub, but it is one of the biggest surprises to me.

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