As is often the case, the NBA All-Star Game had its fair share of snubs when conference reserves were announced on Jan. 30. In the age of social media, however, writers, analysts and even some NBA players have a forum to voice their opinions about guys deserving of an All-Star berth.
In the Eastern Conference, the consensus around the league seems to be that Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson should not have received a spot over other deserving candidates.
While Johnson has played a huge role in the Nets' recent turnaround—Brooklyn has won eight of its last 10 games—many didn’t agree with the coaches’ decision to send him to New Orleans.
Included in that narrative was Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson, who was less than pleased that his teammate—Raptors floor general Kyle Lowry—was snubbed in favor of Johnson:
Comparing Kyle Lowry & Joe Johnson.. Kyle numbers are better & he's on a winning team. So how is he not the obvious choice? #Raptors— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) January 31, 2014
Patterson certainly has some bias as he’s vouching for his teammate, but he does mention comparing the numbers, so we should do the same.
|Kyle Lowry:||43.7% FG||40.6% 3P||16.8 PPG||7.6 APG||4.3 RPG||1.6 SPG||20.43 PER|
|Joe Johnson:||44.3% FG||38.6% 3P||15.7 PPG||2.8 APG||3.4 RPG||0.5 SPG||14.98 PER|
As you can see, Patterson clearly has a point. Lowry's numbers (aside from field-goal percentage) are better across the board when compared with Johnson's.
On top of that, Lowry's Raptors sport a 24-21 record. That gives them a three-game lead over Brooklyn (20-23).
The case for Lowry is a compelling one, but Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick gave praise to a different Eastern Conference guard:
So, did Joe Johnson make the All-Star team based on one great half against the Heat? Arron Afflalo is better in every category.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 31, 2014
Like Patterson, Skolnick references the stats, so let's see how Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo stacks up against Johnson.
|Arron Afflalo:||47% FG||42% 3P||20 PPG||4.3 RPG||3.7 APG||0.7 SPG||17.61 PER|
|Joe Johnson:||44.3% FG||38.6% 3P||15.7 PPG||3.4 RPG||2.8 APG||0.5 SPG||14.98 PER|
He certainly wasn't kidding about the "better in every category" note.
Afflalo has not only been statistically superior to Johnson this season, but his level of play has put him in a league-wide conversation, as NBA.com's John Denton pointed out:
#Magic G Arron Afflalo left off the Eastern Conference All-Star team despite being 15th in NBA in scoring and 3rd among SGs.— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) January 31, 2014
In the end, playing for the lowly Magic didn't help Afflalo's case. At 12-35, the Magic hold the league's second-worst record.
Team success should be a factor in All-Star voting, but did Johnson deserve to get in over Afflalo because his Nets cling to the No. 7 seed in a weak conference?
A strong case can be made for both Lowry and Afflalo, but they weren't the only guards getting shown love in the Twitterverse.
Snubbed for the All-Star Game, @StephensonLance has his 4th triple-double tonight— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 31, 2014
Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson posted his fourth triple-double in a loss against the Phoenix Suns Thursday with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders referenced the significance of Stephenson's fourth trip-dub:
Lance Stephenson just recorded his 4th triple-double of the season, which means he has more trip-dubs than all East All-stars combined.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 31, 2014
As if four triple-doubles aren't impressive enough, his total actually includes more stat-stuffing games than the entire Eastern Conference All-Star team has posted this season. Yes, Stephenson plays with a brilliant supporting cast, but his individual efforts have still been All-Star-worthy.
Former NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson chimed in and added another deserving player for good measure:
And what about Lance Stephenson?!?! And Andre Drummond?— Stu Jackson (@StuJackson32) January 31, 2014
Andre Drummond is averaging 12.6 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his sophomore season with the Detroit Pistons. He's just 20 years old, so it's hard to imagine him missing many more All-Star appearances moving forward.
As for the loaded Western Conference, two major snubs headlined Twitter reactions.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio tweeted the following:
Bleacher Report's Ethan Norof echoed the sentiment about New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis as follows:
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
And while this factor shouldn't hold any bearing, the 2014 All-Star Game is set to be played in New Orleans. The Brow's snub looks even more egregious provided that he should be playing in front of his home fans.
Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, however, pointed out that AD will likely be the top candidate as an injury replacement. In fact, he says that Davis could earn a starting gig:
Not only will Adam Silver get Anthony Davis on the West All-Star team for Kobe Bryant, Scott Brooks will have him in the starting lineup.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) January 31, 2014
While the Pelicans have floundered with a 19-26 record, a Western Conference Cinderella team doesn't have a single All-Star representative.
@Goran_Dragic is a ALL-STAR in my BOOK!...— Dionte Christmas (@Dchristmas22) January 31, 2014
Goran Dragic's Phoenix Suns teammate Dionte Christmas voiced his opinion about "The Dragon" getting snubbed, and he wasn't the only one. Suns.com's Greg Esposito used an interesting hashtag while making his case:
Who was the NBA All-Star Game's biggest snub?
Not only did Dragic lead Phoenix a 4-0 road trip without Eric Bledsoe at his side, his 28-point, seven-assist effort in the second game of a back-to-back scenario helped earn the Suns a season sweep against the mighty Indiana Pacers Thursday.
There's still a chance that Davis and Dragic will be named to the All-Star team as injury replacements for Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.
Quite frankly, both guys deserved to make it, regardless.
In the Eastern Conference there's really no excuse why Johnson earned his seventh career All-Star nod, because three other candidates have posted better resumes.
Afflalo has better stats across the board, Lowry nearly has the same and plays for a better team from a record standpoint, and Stephenson's triple-doubles continue to impress.
Twitter reactions came out in full force to back certain players, and while it may not get them in, in many ways it will provide those guys with plenty of vindication for their egregious snubs.