NBA Stars Suffering from Major Cases of All-Star Envy
It's virtually impossible to properly honor every player who deserves to be in the All-Star Game this year. With the limited rosters and the plethora of talent at certain positions, a number of NBA stars will be sitting on the sidelines this weekend.
Some of those not selected for the big game on Sunday will be in Houston as participants in other events, but the Rising Stars Challenge and the Three-Point Contest are poor substitutes for the actual All-Star Game. As such, several players are suffering from extreme cases of All-Star envy—hopefully, they'll be able to find a cure for their condition next season.
8) Josh Smith, Atlanta
Another round of voting has ended, and Josh Smith continues his reign as "best player who has never made the All-Star Game."
To be fair, he had a better case last season numbers-wise, and his Offensive Rating of 94 is the lowest of his career. All that said, he continues to be a stat-sheet stuffer and an imposing defensive presence who blocks more than two shots per game. But much like Paul Pierce with the Boston Celtics, Atlanta's mediocre record didn't do Smith many favors with the voters.
7) Deron Williams, Brooklyn
Two months ago, any suggestions that Deron Williams should be an All-Star were downright laughable. But after a stellar month of January in which he averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 assists per game, Williams has made a strong case (albeit too late) for his fourth consecutive All-Star nod.
Brooklyn's impressive run under P.J. Carlesimo wasn't enough to sway the Eastern Conference head coaches to vote for Williams, whose averages are admittedly lower than in years past. However, if All-Star voting was extended another week or two, Williams likely would have found himself in the mid-season classic—a game he would have missed due to inflammation in both ankles.
6) David West, Indiana
Without Danny Granger, the Indiana Pacers have exceeded expectations thanks in large part to the steady play of David West, who narrowly missed out on his third career All-Star nomination.
The emergence of Paul George made things tough for West, as the odds of the Indiana Pacers getting two All-Star bids were extremely slim. Still, a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.17 and fantastic defense (West boasts a 99 Defensive Rating) should be evidence enough for West's inclusion on the East roster. But instead of heading to Houston, West will have an extra few days to rest up for the Pacers' stretch run.
5) Kenneth Faried, Denver
Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried was selected to participate in both the Rising Stars Challenge and the Slam Dunk Contest, but perhaps he should be playing in the main event of All-Star Weekend instead.
Faried is simply a double-double machine and one of the best non-lottery picks in the past several years. While he's still raw on the offensive end, "The Manimal" is absolutely tenacious on the boards and is the hardest working player on the court every single night.
Once he improves defensively, expect Faried to be a perennial All-Star selection.
4) Al Jefferson, Utah
Al Jefferson has averaged 16-plus points and nine-plus rebounds per game for each of the past seven seasons, yet he's still never received an invite to the All-Star Game.
So this year's omission is old hat to Jefferson, whose Player Efficiency Rating of 20.97 is 20th-best in the NBA. More importantly, he's the best player on a Jazz team that has a very decent chance to make the playoffs in a tough Western Conference. Perhaps it'll take a change of scenery for Jefferson to get his just due.
3) Paul Pierce, Boston
Kevin Garnett will represent the Boston Celtics at All-Star Weekend, but teammate Paul Pierce is far more deserving of the honor.
Pierce's numbers have taken a slight dip across the board this year, but he's been the steadying hand guiding the Celtics' ship during a tumultuous season.
Boston's record is the primary reason why Pierce didn't receive an invitation to Houston, and the team's recent run of success came too late to factor into the voting.
2) Marc Gasol, Memphis
Marc Gasol isn't just the Memphis Grizzlies' franchise player, but he has arguably been the best center in the Western Conference this season. Since All-Star voters now have a generic "frontcourt" option on their ballots, Gasol will be sitting at home this weekend.
Zach Randolph gets most of the press for Memphis, yet the team wouldn't be battling for a top-four seed out West if it wasn't for Gasol. And while offense gets the headlines, Gasol's sub-100 Defensive Rating ranks among the league's best.
1) Stephen Curry, Golden State
Players averaging 20-plus points per game on winning teams are rarely left off of All-Star rosters, so Stephen Curry finds himself in very select company.
The 24-year-old Curry should be doing more on All-Star Weekend than just chucking up jumpers in the Three-Point Contest, but that's his reality given the fact that he's in the same conference as Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.
With that much talent in one half of the NBA, there will inevitably be a snub or two each year, and the sharpshooting Curry bears that burden this time. If Golden State is a contender again next season, it will be hard for voters to ignore Curry for the second year in a row.