The selection process for the NBA All-Star starters could use some tweaking. Fans choose their favorites, though some may not be as deserving. Houston Rockets shooting guard Tracy McGrady was nearly selected despite having played in only six games.
The NBA dodged this bullet when Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash passed him in the final hours, but couldn’t keep Allen Iverson , another immensely popular player, from being selected despite playing in only 25 games and putting up uncharacteristically poor numbers.
Iverson, though he thought he deserved to be selected, has since decided to stay home to tend to his daughter, who is battling an illness. Neither McGrady or Iverson will play, which saves the NBA from ridicule and a demand for change, but though the fans part in the voting is ridiculous, recent events have made me question the competence of the coaches, a crop that selects the reserves.
This year, the coaches appear to have chosen the twelve reserves only from the best teams. That’s all well and good, but one player in particular deserved to be selected despite playing on a 14-win team. Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant pulled out of the All-Star game due to injury.
The coaches had the opportunity to replace him with someone who should have already been selected, but inexplicably decided not to. Instead of naming Monta Ellis , the Golden State Warriors incredible shooting guard, they chose Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd , who will be making his 10th All-Star team.
Ellis, 24, has averaged 26 points and 5 assists per game for Golden State, a team that has been injury-plagued for a better part of the season. The former second-round pick, selected 40th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi, has played all 48 minutes eight times this year and 42 minutes per game.
He scored 30-plus points 13 times in a span of 16 games from December 16 to January 20, and dropped 46 points on Kidd’s team earlier this month in a loss, the third time he has poured in over 40 points this season.
What has Kidd done? He is averaging nine points and nine assists. Since when does nine and nine trump 26 and five? He’s shooting worse than Ellis from the field (42.8 percent to 46.4 percent) and has scored in single digits 28 times; by comparison, Ellis has failed to score in double-figures only three times. Twenty-eight to three!
Kidd plays on a team that doesn’t need his scoring. Dallas has plenty of other options and only needs him to dish assists. But passing the ball and the recipient making shots shouldn’t result in an All-Star selection. Ellis, on the other hand, has to score for his team.
Don Nelson’s Warriors have always been a offensive-minded team. His philosophy is if you don’t shoot when you are open you will find your way on to bench. Because of Nelson’s coaching style, Ellis’s knack for scoring, and the Warriors necessity for him to score and do so prolifically, he is averaging 22 shots per game. Kidd takes less shots than Ellis makes (7.6 to 10.3).
The Mavericks have 18 more wins than the Warriors and are leading a division made up of only potential playoff teams. But the Warriors have been extremely depleted and are very young. In one game, Ellis’s backcourt mate, rookie Stephen Curry , had to remain in the game despite fouling out because Golden State had no other players.
They had to call up forwards Anthony Tolliver and Cartier Martin just to please the NBA’s roster-size guidelines. Without Ellis’s scoring, they would be rivaling the New Jersey Nets (a team with only four wins) for the worst record in the league. Without Kidd, the Mavs could just plug in Jose Juan Barea and Rodrigue Beaubois and not miss much.
Kidd has done what he’s always done. His selection is based on his assist numbers, improved three-point shooting percentage (41 percent; 34 percent for his career), his past selections, and his stardom. Ellis has taken his game to the next level, improving his scoring average seven points from last year.
I could go on and on, but clearly no argument could be made for Kidd. It’s a shame that the better of the two wasn’t chosen.