5 NBA All-Stars Who Won't Get Voted in Again for the 2013 Game
Whether coming to the end of a long line of All-Star appearances or proving their first such appearance was something of a fluke, there are a handful of big NBA names who probably won't be back again this season.
Making these kind of predictions is hardly a science.
Rarely are there clear-cut lines separating the top-performers from those next in line, and even when there are, there's no guarantee those lines will mean anything to the fans and head coaches who ultimately determine the starting lineups and bench units (respectively).
There's a fair amount of politics and hype that play into the decisions, and there's no way you can anticipate exactly where those winds will blow.
As unpredictable as it may be, here's a look at how the composition of this season's rosters may differ from the last. At least five of 2012's selections probably won't be back.
Marc Gasol–C, Memphis Grizzlies
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There's no question that many of Marc Gasol's contributions to the Memphis Grizzlies don't show up on paper, but he'll have an increasingly difficult time leveraging things like passing ability in the face of improving centers in the Western Conference.
The numbers Gasol was putting on paper had a lot to do with the fact he was playing over 36 minutes a game. Those 8.9 rebounds looked good enough, but Gasol actually ranked 36th in rebounding rate among centers.
That can be a bit deceptive given that some guys play such limited minutes, but Gasol rebounded less frequently than Western Conference rivals like Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, DeAndre Jordan, Marcin Gortat, Emeka Okafor, Al Jefferson and Chris Kaman.
That should help put those 8.9 rebounds per game in perspective.
Likewise, the 14.6 points per game is fine, but it's really not at all that impressive given the minutes he's playing.
Per 48 minutes, the best scoring centers in the West last season were Al Jefferson and Tim Duncan respectively, both of whom were snubbed from the All-Star team.
Suffice it to say, Gasol's path won't get any easier this year. While Bynum is now playing in the East, he's been replaced with Dwight Howard. He'll also face competition from rapidly up-and-coming studs like DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee, to say nothing of more established players like Jefferson and Gortat.
You could have made a pretty compelling argument that Gasol didn't deserve his spot last season, and it's hard to imagine he'll have another one this time around.
Andre Iguodala–SF, Denver Nuggets
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Andre Iguodala was a bit of a borderline All-Star pick last season, and he won't have it any easier now that he's playing with the Denver Nuggets. You could contend that the Philadelphia 76ers were almost as deep as these Nuggets, but the difference is that Iggy's new team is better at passing and scoring.
That means he might not play the role of point-forward quite so often, and his scoring may slip still further below the 12.4 points he averaged last season.
On the other hand, it's certainly possible that Iguodala's production will benefit from Denver's up-tempo style of play. His ability to score in transition will be more heavily utilized, and he'll have more opportunities to score by virtue of the increased possessions a fast-paced unit racks up.
But, unless the change of scenery yields a substantial jump in production, Iggy will have a tough time edging out the West's talented forwards and swingmen.
Yes, he's an excellent defender, and that almost certainly ranks as the principal reason the Nuggets were interested in acquiring him. That alone will at least merit some All-Star consideration.
Consideration aside, though, you can put together a pretty long list of guards and forwards in the West who stand better chances of having All-Star seasons.
Steve Nash–PG, Los Angeles Lakers
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Some will protest that Steve Nash deserves to be at the All-Star game in some kind of honorary, "thanks for all you've done" capacity, but let's be honest.
The guy gets to finish out his legendary career chasing rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, because the league has made salary caps structurally irrelevant thanks to nifty devices like sign-and-trades and trade exceptions.
No one should feel too sorry for this guy.
Others will protest that Nash is actually set to have one of his best seasons in years on account of all the talent surrounding him.
There are a few problems with that narrative though. First, Nash won't be handling the ball as often. Even on a team where Kobe Bryant dominates the ball less frequently, he'll still be handling it plenty often.
Second, Nash's minutes will be tightly monitored. He was held to under 32 minutes per game last season, but that was for a team fighting for an outside shot at making the playoffs. The Lakers' mindset will be entirely different—they know they'll be in the playoffs, and they'll just want everyone healthy once they get there.
Nash will be 39 years old when the postseason rolls around, and L.A. will do everything in its power to spare him the back pain that caught up to him at times last season.
No, none of this means you'll see Nash for a few 20-minute cameo performances, but it does mean his numbers are likely to slip one way or another (even if his effectiveness doesn't slip at all).
It's also worth nothing that four of the five guards selected to the West's All-Star team last season played the point.
It's hard to see that happening again with guys like Eric Gordon and James Harden coming into their own at the 2, and of course there are plenty of up-and-coming point guards (Ty Lawson, Stephen Curry, Jeremy Lin, Goran Dragic) who will be vying for those spots too.
Luol Deng–SF, Chicago Bulls
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By the numbers, Luol Deng's first All-Star season really wasn't one of his best. Chicago Bulls fans will quickly note that his defense more than made up for those numbers, but we're talking 15.3 points per game on 41 percent shooting.
We're talking a lackluster 14.13 player efficiency rating and an inability to crack three assists per game.
Conventional wisdom might suggest that Deng will pick up the slack while Derrick Rose recovers from knee surgery, but that fundamentally confuses what kind of player the 27-year-old is and will continue to be.
He's not a playmaker, and he won't create his own offense all that efficiently. When paired with an elite point guard he'll average nearly 18 points and shoot the ball at a 46 percent clip, just as he did in 2009-10 and 2010-11.
But when Rose misses half the season, Deng struggles to become a go-to guy. With Rose expected to be out until after the All-Star break, that doesn't bode well for Deng's All-Star chances.
Then there's the matter of Josh Smith. On paper, he had a far better season that Deng, and he stepped up for the Atlanta Hawks with Al Horford missing almost the entire season. Somehow, though, the power forward was passed over once again.
He's still due his first All-Star selection, and it's almost inconceivable he won't get it this season, especially given the likelihood he becomes an even more prominent part of Atlanta's offense now that Joe Johnson is playing for the Brooklyn Nets.
Plus, don't forget about forwards like Amar'e Stoudemire and Danny Granger. They could be in store for bounce-back seasons.
Chris Bosh–PF, Miami Heat
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When a team can survive nearly two rounds of the postseason without its third All-Star, it certainly says a lot about the other two.
It also makes you wonder whether that third guy really deserves to still be an All-Star.
No, he wasn't quite expendable, but nor did he prove to be as essential as an All-Star should be. In theory, teams should struggle mightily without that kind of player, especially in the playoffs. And while the Miami Heat struggled in spots, they dismissed the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics with relatively minimal contribution from the injured power forward.
Additionally, Bosh has become a pretty one-dimensional player with Miami. He's still a dangerous scorer who keeps defenders off balance with a smooth mid-range shot and quick first step, but what else has he done for you lately?
His rebounding rate ranked just 24th among power forwards in the Eastern Conference, tied with Andray Blatche. By comparison, teammate Udonis Haslem ranked third. Bosh also trailed the likes of Carlos Boozer, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, Amar'e Stoudemire and even spread-4 Ryan Anderson.
In fact, the much-maligned Boozer actually had a higher player efficiency rating than Bosh. So too did Smith, Garnett and Anderson–by pretty wide margins even.
Perhaps it would be one thing if Bosh were contributing exceptional defense, but he doesn't even compare to Smith or Garnett on the defensive end. He ranked just 17th among Eastern Conference power forwards in blocks per 48 minutes, and his post defense isn't exactly legendary.
Bosh is more than just a third wheel, but he's not an All-Star anymore. Were he depended upon as a go-to scorer, that might be a different story. But in a world where it's more important that he do the little things like rebound and play defense, you can't be especially thrilled when he's failing to do those things particularly well.