Perennial NBA All-Stars Likely To Miss the Cut This Year
Some things never change. Unfortunately for some, the NBA's All-Star docket isn't one of those "things."
For years, we have watched with confidence as certain players legitimately toiled with and ultimately laid claim to numerous All-Star selections.
As we draw nearer to the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, it has become clear that a handful of perennial participants aren't going to make the cut. Some aren't even viable candidates.
Though certain "snubs" can be attributed to injuries, plenty are the result of diminished performance. Others are likely to fall short in favor of some fresh faces as well.
Two star-studded factions whose cosmetic makeup has never deviated more from what we have come to accept as the All-Star norm.
*All stats in this article are accurate through December 31, 2012.
Pau Gasol, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
It's official: Pau Gasol is no longer an All-Star.
After being named to three straight All-Star Games (four total), we held out hope that Gasol could rebound from a dismal 2011-12 campaign that saw him fail to snag a fourth consecutive selection. Once Steve Nash was brought into the fold, that hope only strengthened.
Now, though? It doesn't exist.
There's no denying that Gasol is still a capable big man when a system is tailored to meet his strengths, but at 32 and amidst a nasty bout with plantar fasciitis, it's become clear that his days as an All-Star are over. Permanently.
Thus far, Gasol is averaging a career-low 12.7 points on a career-worst 42.9 percent shooting, a level of production that is reminiscent of a role player, not a perennial All-Star.
Sad? Of course. Unexpected? Eh.
I get that Gasol is fifth in votes received for the Western Conference's frontcourt, but do we honestly see any coaches selecting him and his diminished abilities?
Though many had believed that he would resurrect his career under Nash, increased production may not have even been enough to save the Spaniard. In a league where youth and athleticism reign supreme—unless you're Tim Duncan—Gasol's age dictated that he become just a blip on the radar.
As such, perhaps some comfort can be found in knowing that Gasol's production doesn't warrant a selection. It beats knowing that he played All-Star-caliber basketball and was passed over in favor of someone younger, right?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, New York Knicks
Remember when Amar'e Stoudemire actually stepped foot on the court?
Yeah, me neither.
After five consecutive selections, the six-time All-Star seemed destined for a few more appearances before his career was out. But then Carmelo Anthony came to New York, Stoudemire began holding boxing matches against inanimate objects, and his knees got the best of him.
Yet that was last year. This season was going to be different.
Except it hasn't been.
Stoudemire has refrained from venting his frustrations on any fire extinguishers, but he has followed up a 17.5-point-per-game (his lowest since 2005-06, when he played only three games) performance with...well, nothing.
Prior to New Year's Day, Stoudemire had yet to appear in a game, and the New York Knicks—the same team he saved—began to move on without him.
The bright side? When the second batch of All-Star ballots were tallied, Stoudemire was 10th in votes received for the Eastern Conference's frontcourt.
Not bad for a guy who has yet to log any minutes.
Or, should I say, not bad for an athlete who is more a perennial disappointment than perennial All-Star.
Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Dallas Mavericks
Say it ain't so, Dirk.
After 11 consecutive All-Star selections, Dirk Nowitzki's time at the top has come to a close. For now, at least.
The forward underwent arthroscopic knee surgery just before the season's inception and has only just returned to the court. Though his return serves as a symbol of hope for the Dallas Mavericks, he has struggled to regain his prolific footing.
Yet, as of December 27, he was 11th in votes received for Western Conference frontcourt members in spite of his injury. That said, merely being a part of the conversation—especially when it's not performance-related—means little.
In four games, Nowitzki is averaging just 7.5 points on 32.4 percent shooting. Despite his early struggles, the expectation is that the 34-year-old will eventually return to form. He has been the poster boy for durability for nearly 15 years, after all.
But the problem here is that Nowitzki is now a 34-year-old. It's easy to chalk his absence from the All-Star Game up to his absence from the regular season, but what happens next year?
Do we honestly believe that Nowitzki will be able to return to his 22.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game self this season or even next?
The optimist (and Tim Duncan advocate) in me would like to say yes. The realist, though, believes we may have seen Nowitzki play in his last All-Star Game.
Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls
Color me depressed.
Of all the players who won't see the light of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, Derrick Rose's path to a notable absence has easily been the most tragic.
For the past three All-Star contests, we have borne witness to the explosively captivating exploits of the former league MVP. His perpetual rim attacks have become a staple, and it just won't be the same knowing that his freakishly athletic talents won't be making the trip to Houston.
To say we saw this coming, though, would be an understatement.
As soon as he tore his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers, we knew that the Chicago Bulls' immediate future was in jeopardy. Soon after, the magnitude of his recovery time was understood as well, and the hope for him to make a fourth straight All-Star appearance was shattered.
Unlike most others, it's safe to say that a healthy Rose would have been selected to partake in this year's festivities. Not only has he been named a starter in the last two, but he managed to put up 21.8 points and 7.9 assists per game last season in what was an injury-riddled campaign (to say the least).
There is some solace to be found in the devastating case of Rose, though.
While we won't be graced with his presence in Houston, he has returned to practice in some capacity, and his return has never seemed more imminent.
And that means, barring another injury, we won't be subject to another Rose-less All-Star Weekend in 2014.
Steve Nash, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
Let's just dub this that awkward moment when you realize Steve Nash won't be selected to the All-Star Game for just the fourth time in the last 11 years.
Injuries have kept one of the NBA's best floor generals on the sidelines for a majority of the season and subsequently left him sixth in votes received for members of the Western Conference's backcourt.
If we're honest, Nash's performance when on the court hasn't been horrible. He's currently averaging 9.7 points and 7.7 assists per contest. He's also managed to restore a level of faith in the Los Angeles Lakers' current convocation.
Unfortunately, I doubt that will be enough for him to lay claim to another selection. To be fair, Jeremy Lin's popularity hasn't helped his voting cause.
Coaches love Nash, but could you even see him accepting an offer on the heels of a shin injury?
Nash remains one of the best playmakers the game has to offer, but at 38, his reign of dominance has seemingly come to an end.
Joe Johnson, SG, Brooklyn Nets
Oh, how those whose success is predicated on volume scoring has fallen.
Joe Johnson has been named to five straight All-Star Games, but his absence from the festivities actually began at the star-laden party held in 2012.
Though the shooting guard was named to the team, he was unable to participate because of injury (insert Josh Smith arguments here). Now, however, he won't be participating because he's not performing up to snuff.
Johnson is currently averaging just 16.6 points on 42.2 percent shooting (second-lowest percentage of his career) and posting a laughable 13.7 PER.
When the Brooklyn Nets brought him and his burdensome contract to the Barclays Center, visions of Deron Williams and him torching opposing defenses, both during the season and the All-Star Game, danced through the franchise's collective head.
Instead, Johnson has proved to be $19.8 million worth of mediocre (borderline awful).
And last time I checked, if your name isn't Jeremy Lin, "mediocre" isn't enough to get you into the All-Star Game.
Tony Parker, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Victim of the Jeremy Lin phenomenon, Take 2.
Alright, I exaggerate a bit. The coaches can still select Tony Parker, but there's a good chance they don't. Remember, if Lin wins a starting slot, coaches are more than likely to vote in Chris Paul, James Harden and Russell Westbrook over Parker. Even Stephen Curry comes into play here as well.
Yes, the San Antonio Spurs point guard and four-time All-Star is having another stellar season. He's averaging 19.3 points and 7.3 assists per game and posting a 22.9 PER.
By all accounts, however, that may not be enough to secure Parker's fifth All-Star selection. As of December 27, he was seventh in votes received for the Western Conference's backcourt members.
Somewhat. Parker's numbers are slightly better than last year—when he was named to his fourth All-Star team—but the rise of James Harden and popularity of Lin hasn't helped his case.
But while Parker won't make an All-Star appearance this year, he has still proved to be one of the most consistent superstars in the game. He has helped lead the Spurs to continued dominance, and he remains one of the most crafty playmakers in the game.
Far be it from me to chastise those who cast the votes—especially considering they have so many viable options—but Parker doesn't need to be selected to validate his status as star. The coaches don't even need to acknowledge his status.
All-Star Game or not, he continues uphold his reputation as a superstar.