The leaders of both the Eastern and Western Conference players for the second returns from the 2011 NBA All-Star voting program were recently announced and, as was the case last season, the results provide salient evidence of the system’s fatal flaw.
A glaring example of this assertion is the fact that Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is the overwhelming leader in votes for Western Conference centers, despite averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in the only five games he’ll play this entire season.
Currently, the injury-plagued Ming, the third-leading vote getter in the Western Conference, has garnered nearly 300,000 more votes than his closest competitor, which happens to be Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum; the same Andrew Bynum who’s played in only nine games to the tune of 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest.
While on the subject of big men, it should be pointed out that former New York Knicks center David Lee was nearly snubbed for last year’s All-Star Game after leading all Eastern Conference centers in scoring and assists during the first half of the 2009-10 campaign.
But Lee’s token replacement of Allen Iverson on the roster gave the Knicks their first All-Star Game participant since 2001, when shooting guard Allan Houston and shooting guard/small forward Latrell Sprewell were selected.
Ironically though, with the placement of Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Amar’e Stoudemire on the ballots, the Knicks have initiated a double-edged sword campaign to boost All-Star voting support for their team stalwarts.
On the one hand, Stoudemire, a viable candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award, is more than deserving of the votes required to surpass Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett to slide into the second starting forward spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad.
The statistics don’t lie: Stoudemire is averaging nearly twice as many points per game (26.4) as “The Big Ticket” (15.0) while pulling down just as many rebounds per contest (9.1 versus 9.5) and blocking twice as many shots (2.3 versus 0.73). In addition, Stoudemire is the primary reason the Knicks, one of the marquee franchises in the league, have experienced a marked resurgence.
On the other hand, although the Knicks’ floor general is worthy of consideration for a spot on the roster, Felton, as well as Gallinari, have absolutely no business being All-Star starters, which is what the voting program was designed to determine.
Felton (18.0 points, 8.9 assists per game) is a notch below Rajon Rondo (11.2 points, 13.8 assists per game) and Derrick Rose (24.0 points, 8.6 points per game) at the point guard position, while Gallinari (15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds per game) isn’t even the second best forward on his own team, with Wilson Chandler (17.7 points, 6.4 rebounds per game) holding that distinction.
So although the Vote Knicks campaign is a clever way to reward fans for their creativity and support, it does the disservice of perpetuating the message that All-Star voting should be done with the heart rather than the brain.
Have Brandon Jennings, Gilbert Arenas and John Wall outplayed Raymond Felton this season?
Do Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant make for a better All-Star starting backcourt than Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams?
Are Andrew Bynum and Yao Ming more worthy All-Star starting centers than Al Jefferson or Nenê?
The fans have spoken loud and clear. But is David Stern really listening?
The second returns from the 2011 All-Star voting program are as follows (Courtesy NBA.com):
2011 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING - EASTERN CONFERENCE
Forwards: LeBron James (Mia) 969,459; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 712,555; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 637,486; Paul Pierce (Bos) 381,348; Chris Bosh (Mia) 260,007; Josh Smith (Atl) 193,897; Carlos Boozer (Chi) 159,073; Danilo Gallinari (NYK) 127,726; Andre Iguodala (Phi) 115,660; Danny Granger (Ind) 107,145.
Guards: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 938,402; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 777,310; Derrick Rose (Chi) 721,122; Ray Allen (Bos) 392,441; John Wall (Was) 169,219; Gilbert Arenas (Orl) 144,889; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 128,556; Raymond Felton (NYK) 105,425; Joe Johnson (Atl) 99,598; Jamal Crawford (Atl) 97,809.
Centers: Dwight Howard (Orl) 988,572; Shaquille O’Neal (Bos) 410,663; Joakim Noah (Chi) 153,657; Al Horford (Atl) 120,404; Andrew Bogut (Mil) 110,153; Andrea Bargnani (Tor) 92,822; Brook Lopez (NJ) 77,048; Roy Hibbert (Ind) 70,698; JaVale McGee (Was) 59,508; Ben Wallace (Det) 44,375.
2011 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING - WESTERN CONFERENCE
Forwards: Kevin Durant (Okc) 735,521; Carmelo Anthony (Den) 602,516; Pau Gasol (LAL) 597,201; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 447,737; Tim Duncan (SA) 436,651; Blake Griffin (LAC) 435,857; Lamar Odom (LAL) 232,299; Luis Scola (Hou) 197,728; Kevin Love (Min) 171,945; Caron Butler (Dal) 168,937.
Guards: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,153,694; Chris Paul (NOH) 585,690; Manu Ginobili (SA) 403,632; Steve Nash (Pho) 321,659; Deron Williams (Utah) 313,011; Jason Kidd (Dal) 234,779; Russell Westbrook (Okc) 233,593; Tony Parker (SA) 219,378; Vince Carter (Pho) 185,213; Eric Gordon (LAC) 179,917.
Centers: Yao Ming (Hou) 637,527; Andrew Bynum (LAL) 376,283; Brendan Haywood (Dal) 215,905; Nenê (Den) 211,475; Marc Gasol (Mem) 205,227; Emeka Okafor (NOH) 172,012; Chris Kaman (LAC) 131,741; Marcus Camby (Por) 111,346; Andris Biedrins (GS) 65,908; Robin Lopez (Pho) 62,199.