The reserves for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game were announced on Thursday, Jan. 30, and there are a few players who will feel slighted by the coaches.
Bleacher Report tweeted out the seven players who made the final cut:
All-Star reserves for both the Eastern and Western Conference. pic.twitter.com/uXuIv06wQM— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 31, 2014
With only 12 players allowed on each team, there's always bound to be some deserving players who end up missing out. You can understand if they lose out to somebody who had a better All-Star resume.
This year, though, there were a few quizzical inclusions and exclusions. Among those exclusions, these three players stand out the most.
Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
Two words: Joe Johnson.
Three words: Joe freaking Johnson?!
How in the world does Joe Johnson get on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and not Lance Stephenson?
The Indiana Pacers have the best record in the East, while Stephenson has more assists, rebounds and steals per 36 minutes than Johnson. He also owns a higher PER (15.9 vs. 14.9).
And yet, that's not good enough to get in ahead of the Brooklyn Nets guard. Sure, Johnson has helped his team recover from that awful start, but does Stephenson not get rewarded for his team's record?
Matt Moore of CBSSports.com points out how the interpretation of the All-Star game differs between the coaches and the league:
League: "This exhibition is for the fans!" Coaches: "Let's vote in Parker and leave out Stephenson!"— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 30, 2014
Stephenson may yet have a lifeline, as Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel reported that Dwyane Wade may bow out of the game, leaving a spot open for the Pacers guard:
Wade hinted Wednesday he might skip All-Star (I doubt it). But if he does, Stephenson could replace and be made a starter by Vogel.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 31, 2014
There's no reason to keep Stephenson off the East roster. He's got the numbers and is a solid contributor to the best team in the conference. In addition, he can thrill the fans with a couple of highlight-reel plays.
What more does he have to do to impress the East coaches?
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
How was Anthony Davis not on the West All-Stars? That seems to be the question many fans are asking.
Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof was in the camp that Davis should have been a surefire selection for the coaches:
Anthony Davis: 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 3.3 blocks. 20 years old. Not an All-Star. What do these coaches watch? #Pelicans— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) January 31, 2014
This may not be an oversight for much longer. As Tim Bontemps of the New York Post points out, the New Orleans Pelicans big man would be a solid replacement for the injured Kobe Bryant:
I will be floored if Anthony Davis isn't an All-Star. That said, he would be a lock to be named as Kobe Bryant's injury replacement.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) January 30, 2014
Davis is one of the best big men in the league. He runs the floor well and plays at both ends. The Pelicans are a terrible defensive team, but little of that can be blamed on the second-year star. As Grantland's Zach Lowe wrote:
Opponents have hit only 45 percent of close shots when Davis is near the ball and the basket, per those data-tracking cameras, an above-average mark. He blocks a higher percentage of opponents’ shots than any player in the league; his arms should count as an extra player. The Pelicans’ rebounding falls apart without Davis on the floor, per NBA.com.
Plus, Davis has a PER of 26.8, which ties him with Kevin Love for fourth in the league heading into Thursday night's play.
In the end, he's probably getting in the All-Star Game, but it shouldn't come down to the fact that somebody had to get injured in order to make that happen.
Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
If Goran Dragic played in the East, he'd be a lock for the All-Star Game and may even have been named as a starter.
Unfortunately for him, he's in the Western Conference, which features no shortage of talented guards.
Dragic leads the Phoenix Suns in scoring (19.7 points a game) and assists (6.1 a game). He also boasts a PER of 21.8, which is tops on the team. His defending has also been above average and certainly better than that of Damian Lillard and Tony Parker, both of whom were named as reserves.
Eric Bledsoe's injury looked like it might derail the Suns' season to a certain extent. However, the strong play of Dragic has helped Phoenix maintain a playoff place in the West.
It's unfortunate that Dragic wasn't rewarded for his play, because there's no telling if he'll be able to put another first half like this together again.
Of course, he's always an All-Star in the Suns' books:
That has to count for something, right?