Timberwolves' Al Jefferson Misses All-Star Cut

Zeke FuhrmanAnalyst IIIJanuary 30, 2009

I'm used to this.

I hate fan-voting for All-Star games even more than I hate the BCS system. Fans vote for their favorite player, regardless of their statistics. It happens in baseball every year, when the AL East team takes on the NL All-Stars, or when baseball casts their "final roster spot" ballet, in which fans vote on five players for the last roster spot.

This year's NBA Western Conference All-Stars are no exception. Don't get me wrong. Everybody (well...almost everybody) on the Western Conference squad is having a remarkable season.

But somebody deserving was left out.

Minnesota Timberwolves basketball has been bleak since the departure of Kevin Garnett two seasons ago. People have been waiting for their new regular to arise.

He is here.

And no one is noticing.

Al Jefferson, who was the headlining player brought over from Boston in the KG trade, is gaining an elite status in the league. He is averaging 22.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, and 1.5 apg, almost identical to Garnett's numbers while he was in Minnesota.

The one problem, I think, is that Minnesota has a losing record.

In fact, only eight teams are represented in the All-Star game...the top eight seeds in playoff hunt: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol from LA, Timmy Duncan and Tony Parker from SA, Shaquille O'Neal and Amare Stoudemire from PHO, Chris Paul and David West from NO, Yao Ming from HOU, Brandon Roy from POR, Dirk Nowitzki from DAL, and Chauncey Billups from DEN.

If you were to compare Al Jefferson's stats (22.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.5 apg) against the forwards and centers from the Western Squad: Duncan (20.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.6 apg), Gasol (17.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.7 apg), West (20.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.9 apg), Stoudemire (21.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.2 apg), O'Neil (18.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.7 apg), and Nowitzki (25.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.3 apg) you could easily put Big Al on the roster ahead of two or three of these players.

If you break down the numbers, would Pau Gasol's stats really be good enough to put him on the All-Star squad if he still played for the 11-34 Memphis Grizzlies?

Why is Shaq even on the roster? To pad an already Hall-of-Fame resume.

You could also make a push for once-heralded-as-the-best-young-guard-in-the-country-before-Brandon-Roy-came-along Deron Williams. He has the Utah 1.0 games behind Phoenix for the eighth seed in the West, and only 5.0 games behind Denver for the division lead.

He is averaging 16.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, and 10.2 apg. Jefferson is even scoring more ppg than everybody on the roster except for Nowitzki (25.7 ppg), and Kobe Bryant (26.6 ppg).

The West doesn't have any All-Star virgins, either. The first-timers are all on the Eastern Squad: Jameer Nelson from Orlando, Danny Granger from Indiana, and Devin Harris from New Jersey.

The East is also sending representatives from the 18-28 Indiana Pacers (Granger), the 20-26 New Jersey Nets (Harris), and the 19-28 Toronto Raptors (F Chris Bosh).