2012 NBA All-Star Snubs: Did Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith Deserve a Spot?

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 16:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after their 93-84 win over the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on January 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

If Charles Barkley thinks Atlanta Hawks' forward Josh Smith got snubbed from the 2012 NBA All-Star game, then it must be so.

Don't just take Chuck's word for it, though. Smith got robbed and it's not the first time. Smith has generated All-Star production for at least five of his eight seasons, but has yet to get an invitation to the big game.

It's as if NBA coaches (who vote on the All-Star reserves) are trying to teach Smith some kind of lesson about life and its disappointments. An important lesson, to be sure, but denying Smith again this season is nothing if not overkill..

This time, the defensive show-stopper was edged out by the likes of Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. Both are fine players in their own rights, but there are a few reasons they Josh Smith should have made the cut instead.

First, the numbers don't lie here. Smith is averaging 15.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals a game. These defensive statistics should catch your eye—they're the kind of numbers that ordinarily put a player in instant contention for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

In contrast, Deng is averaging 16 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.

Iguodala's all-around production is a bit more impressive than Deng's, but not by much. He's averaging 13 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks.

Other metrics give the edge to Smith as well. Josh is shooting at 47 percent, while Iguodala's at 45 percent and Deng at only 44 percent. His overall player efficiency rating is superior as well: Smith comes in at 19.66, with Iguodala at 18.83 and Deng just 16.29.

Iguodala has a unique skill-set and there's certainly a case to be made that much of his value doesn't show up on a stat sheet. The same can be said about Smith, though, and that's what makes the snub so difficult to stomach.

Smith entered the season in the best shape of his career and appears recommitted to helping the Hawks win by any means necessary.

After center Al Horford was sidelined for the foreseeable future, Larry Drew has depended increasingly upon Smith to compensate for the lost rebounding and interior defense. With Kirk Hinrich only recently returning from injury and Tracy McGrady also missing time, the Hawks excelled in the face of a shortened roster.

Smith has had a lot to do with that.

He continues to struggle with his jumper (and shot selection in general), but Smith is a multidimensional talent if there ever was one. Despite struggling his way to nine points (on 2-11 shooting) in a loss to the 76ers, he still made impressive contributions including seven blocks, 10 rebounds and five assists.

This is what separates Josh Smith from his numbers: The ability to impact a game so significantly in so many ways.

It's always hard to argue that certain players didn't deserve their All-Star nods, but it's even harder to make the case that either Deng or Iguodala are more deserving than Smith.

If this is some kind of lesson the league's coaches hope to impart, here's to hoping Josh has a lesson of his own for those coaches come Playoff time.