LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trailblazers being left out of the 2011 NBA All-Star game is undoubtedly the most disappointing snub in some time.
21.2 points, 9.1 boards, 2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. These are the stats of a player that will be sitting at home watching next weekend. How can this be right?
Not only are Aldridge's stats solid, but they are a great deal higher than his current average since three-time all-star Brandon Roy went down with recurring knee problems. (Whether Roy will ever be the same is certainly worthy of debate.)
On paper, the Blazers looked nowhere near that of a team capable of reaching the postseason. With Aldridge's play, the Blazers have managed to stay over .500 and remain in the playoff hunt. The kind of impact Aldridge has had on his team this year is almost worthy of an MVP discussion—let alone an all-star bid.
So who snubbed Aldridge?
Here is what Andre Miller would tell you:
“I'm not a hater. But [Griffin] hasn't made anyone better. They are giving young guys too much respect.”
Right. Blake Griffin's 22.9/12.7/3.6 line isn't worth of an all-star game because he is a rookie. I cannot and will not argue this selection.
Making your case by claiming that Griffin hasn't made his team better is laughable. Sure, Griffin has put people in the seats with his eye-popping dunks, but, more importantly, he has given his city (alright, less than half of the city) hope for the future.
Griffin will be wreaking havoc on the league long after Miller has retired to his local CYO basketball league.
What about Kevin Love? Please. Love almost got snubbed himself. Yao Ming “earning” a bid to the game while only playing five games before waving goodbye to another season is more than enough to make a case against democratic fan voting (not that I think this will ever change. I too like going online to cast my vote like everybody else, except I do it ONCE).
Love is posting 21.3 points, a league-leading 15.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Add a ridiculous 36 straight double-doubles and you have an all-star shoo-in. Unfortunately, it took a decision from commissioner Stern for Love to receive his bid as the replacement for Yao Ming. Is the entire Chinese population logging onto NBA.com?
The real culprit for Aldridge bubbling is Tim Duncan.
Miller hated on the young guys, but isn't it the NBA elders that are getting too much credit?
Duncan is in the midst of the worst statistical season of his career, averaging 13.5 points, 9.3 boards, 3 assists, and 1.9 blocks. Aldridge has just as much of an impact as Duncan while owning a massive scoring edge. Duncan is also playing only 29.1 minutes per game.
OK, so the Spurs have the league's best record. Who cares?
Duncan anchors an old but deep team. They have fit together the puzzle pieces perfectly in San Antonio, and, unfortunately, a true team is sometimes overlooked from an individual standpoint.
The Spurs don't need Duncan to play the heavy minutes. Spurs coach Greg Popovich is one of the best in the league at keeping his players fresh. The Spurs have the depth to do such a thing, while the Blazers do not. That is why Aldridge is playing upwards of 40 minutes. Duncan, at his age, is still a fully-capable player, but his all-star caliber days have peaked.
Aldridge is the standout on the Blazers, and it is hard to argue that anyone is more deserving given what they have contributed to their team. It is a shame that fan voting has cost Aldridge his rightful place with the western stars; the existence of an all-star voting committee would have more than likely led to his selection.
Other potential gripes: Tony Parker, Lamar Odom, David West.