The results of fan voting for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game are in, and as always, some players have legitimate beefs over the fact they are not starting.
When trying to select any starting lineup for an All-Star Game, there are always going to be deserving players left out. There just aren't enough starting spots. This is only made worse, however, when fan voting is involved.
I don't say any of this to complain about the process. This is a fun exhibition game for the fans. The star-studded lineups, which weren't assembled with functionality in mind, are a fun break from the long NBA season.
That doesn't mean I don't want to point out the biggest snubs from this year's starting lineups, however. Have a look at the announced starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, and then I'll point out three players who didn't get their just due.
|2014 NBA All-Star Starters|
|Backcourt||Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Backcourt||Dwyane Wade||Miami Heat|
|Frontcourt||Carmelo Anthony||New York Knicks|
|Frontcourt||Paul George||Indiana Pacers|
|Frontcourt||LeBron James||Miami Heat|
|Backcourt||Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors|
|Backcourt||Kobe Bryant||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Frontcourt||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Frontcourt||Blake Griffin||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Frontcourt||Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves|
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
When looking over the starting roster for both teams, the first thing that jumps out is: What in the world has happened to the center position?
The Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin are the closest things to true centers in these starting lineups, and it's not like fans didn't have any quality center options to vote for.
Dwight Howard has long been regarded as the game's best big man, and he is having a fine season. This season, he is averaging 18.3 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.77 blocks a game with a 21.9 player efficiency rating.
I'm not the only one who is surprised that this wasn't good enough to get Howard a starting spot:
He's also done that while helping the Rockets to the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. His size, length and strength are invaluable on the defensive end, and this starting lineup lacks anyone near Howard's capabilities to limit shots in the paint.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
It is easy to point out Howard's merits over the starters in the frontcourt due to him being an actual center, but there is also a power forward in the West who has a right to feeling a little snubbed.
The Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge is turning in a fantastic season.
He is averaging 24.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and one block with a PER of 23.51. He has also led the Blazers to the third-best record in the Western Conference.
He has been taking over games with his rebounding and scoring like no other player in the NBA this season:
And one of those games came against Howard and the Rockets:
Meanwhile, Blake Griffin remains an exciting player, but his stats—22.6 points, 10.0 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game with a PER of 22.47—don't compare. Portland is also three games better than the Clippers in the current standings.
The record could also be a basis for Aldridge starting over Love. Sure, Love's stats boggle the mind. He is posting 25 points, 13 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game with a 27.2 PER.
Of course, Minnesota is also 11th in the Western Conference.
I'd take a starting combo of Aldridge and Howard over Love and Griffin on any night.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
The Eastern Conference can't even pretend that there is a real center in the All-Star starting lineup. The East features three swing forwards, but they are all better suited to swing between the small forward and power forward positions.
That said, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are all extremely deserving of starting this game. They've been fantastic.
So has George's teammate Roy Hibbert, however.
Hibbert's stats are modest. He's averaging 12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and a 16.9 PER. He is second in the league in blocks at 2.6, though, and that touches on his biggest value.
This big man is the center of the NBA's stingiest scoring defense and one that has a chance to be historically effective. The Pacers are a sound defensive team, but that begins by channeling ball-handlers to Hibbert, so he can derail their shot attempts.
He has been the best defensive player in the league this season, and it's not all that close.
There should be a spot for a player like him in the starting lineup of any All-Star team.