Prepare your righteous indignation or unmitigated joy as
necessary. Here come the biggest snubs and surprises from this year's All-Star
Damian Lillardis an
integral part of the NBA's best offensive team, and he's putting together a remarkable
season from long distance that could threaten the single-season record for made
But the competition for the limited number of guard spots out
West is fierce, and picking the Blazers' floor general over so many worthy
candidates was far from a sure thing.
Defensively, he has improved in his second season. But Lillard
is still a long way from ever being mistaken for a stopper. Toss in his recent
slump and a snub was actually a bigger possibility than it might have seemed.
Apparently, the coaches saw fit to reward Lillard's
contributions to his team's terrific offense. It also probably didn't hurt his
chances that he has been a fantastic clutch performer all season long. By
putting together a half-season resume that features as many game-winners and
late-contest daggers as Lillard has, he made it too hard to ignore his
Congratulations, NBA coaches; you've stolenGoran Dragic's
Per Greg Esposito of Suns.com,
Dragic gushed about the possibility of being named to the West's All-Star
roster earlier this month:
It's hard to understand how the coaches could have left Dragic
out. Lillard is having a great year, but the Phoenix Suns' point guard has been
better. Per NBA.com, Dragic boasts a higher true-shooting
percentage, rebound rate and assist rate than Lillard.
Plus, the crafty Slovenian is a better defender and has to
shoulder a much heavier load on a team that lacks the kind of star support
LaMarcus Aldridge offers Lillard with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Dragic's exclusion hurts because he deserves to be among the West
reserves. His performance this season has been nothing short of All-Star
The added stinger: Dragic will miss out on a $1 million incentive in his contract
that would have kicked in if he'd been named to the team.
Here's hoping he sneaks in via Kobe Bryant's
Don't get me wrong, DeMar DeRozan has had a fantastic
year—especially since Rudy Gay skipped town.
But naming him to the East reserves ahead of teammate Kyle Lowry
is difficult to comprehend.
The counting numbers are there for the Raps' shooting guard, but
it's hard to look at a 42.8 field-goal percentage and a 30.8 three-point
percentage and come away saying,
"Yeah, that guy's one of the 12 best
players in his conference."
It's great that DeRozan will be in New Orleans, but it's pretty
stunning that he'll be there ahead of some more deserving candidates.
Lance Stephenson's All-Star case looked pretty strong this year.
His growth from a serviceable role player into a do-it-all force on both ends
fit the kind of narrative coaches often reward when making their selections.
It also doesn't hurt that he's become an invaluable part of the
best team in the NBA.
With Hibbert already named to the reserves and Paul George a member of the East's
starting lineup, it didn't seem unreasonable to give the dominant Indiana
Pacers a third honor.
But Stephenson didn't quite make it, despite one of the most,
um,enthusiastic promotional campaigns.
Don't worry, Lance. You're a rising star who'll cash in as a
free agent very soon, and you've got a championship chase to keep the sadness
Stephenson missed out this time, but I'm guessing this won't be
the last time he joins the All-Star conversation.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta
Paul Millsap's selection is as big of a surprise as any, but
credit the coaches for getting this one right.
Perhaps Andre Drummond's rebounding numbers and blocked shots
were worth a longer look. And Lowry's all-around excellence definitelyshould have warranted a spot.
But Millsap has helped keep the Atlanta Hawks right in the thick
of the race for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference despite the loss
of Al Horford for the season and the recent
ankle injury that has hampered Jeff Teague.
All-Stars can carry a team through adversity, and Millsap has
done exactly that.
Thanks to the addition of a reliable three-point stroke and the
freedom to fire away in head coach Mike Budenholzer's free-wheeling offensive
system, Millsap's game has undergone significant growth this season. His
rebounding prowess remains formidable, and his effort
level never drops below the "relentless" setting.
This is a pleasant surprise and a well-deserved honor for
If you've read this far, you're well aware that Lowry didn't
make the cut.
That's a real shame, and is easily the biggest snub among East
reserves. But it wasn't unforeseeable.
Many analysts were ready for this one, including Grantland's Zach Lowe:
"One Eastern Conference guard has a higher PER than Kyle Lowry, and that
player (Wade) has missed 13 games. (Yes, I'm preparing my snub rant)."
Apparently, Lowry's reputation for crankiness and allegedly
difficult personality really came back to bite him. If he were being judged on
statistics alone, there wouldn't be a way to justify his exclusion.
Surprise:Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
Any time you have a one-dimensional, low-efficiency scorer
averaging 15.7 points per game on one of the most disappointing (albeit really
hot right now) teams in the NBA, you've got to give that guy an All-Star nod.
Clearly, that was the flawed logic that led to Joe Johnson's selection
to the East reserves.
Either that, or Johnson peeled off a few million bucks from his
bloated salary and distributed it to the voting pool.
Seriously, there is no sensible way to defend Johnson's
inclusion among the Eastern Conference backups. He can't defend, has numbers
that look nothing like those belonging to an All-Star shooting guard and hasn't
played with any kind of consistency this year.
Technically, this counts as a surprise. But if verbal accuracy
matters at all, we have to term this a "joke."
Snub of All Snubs:
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
I don't even know where to start.
Anthony Davis has been one of the best players in the entire NBA
this year. He's been a statistical monster, passes the All-Star eye test with
flying colors and seems to be getting better by the nanosecond.
B/R's own Ethan Norof asked the question on
everybody's mind when the reserves were announced: "Anthony Davis: 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 3.3 blocks.
20 years old. Not an All-Star. What do these coaches watch?"
Maybe the New Orleans Pelicans' unsightly record hurt AD's case.
Maybe there was a league-wide blackout that prevented Davis' games from
reaching television markets around the country. Or perhaps coaches around the
league are still somehow unhip to his dominant play.
The West is loaded. But Davis
is more deserving than Lillard, Howard and possibly even LaMarcus Aldridge. The
numbers bear it out, and if you've seen him, Davis' play makes it inconceivable
that he's not an All-Star.
There are also suggestions that
the All-star slot will be expanded to 15 rosters than the usual 12.
But will wait for the upcoming event if this All-Star surprises
really deserved a spot in the said event.
--- Jay-R U. Bayon-on with reports from BleacherReport.com
2014 NBA All-Star Snubs and Surpises
Reviewed by Phil Newsome