Each year it seems like there are always a group of players that fans, media and basketball junkies alike feel got the short end of the stick with All-Star selections. This year Trae Young, Domantas Sabonis, [Editors Note: Sabonis is in as a replacement for Kevin Durant] De’Aaron Fox and Devin Booker (before a recent replacement for Anthony Davis) were names being mentioned as guys that should be in the annual game. There is no doubt that each of the aforementioned players have serious game. They are each putting up All-Star caliber performances and numbers this year.
The one component that is rarely every discussed is who would these players be replacing. I will admit, in years past there have been a few guys where you scratch your head and wonder how he got selected. But this year, both conferences have put forth very deserving players. If you want to debate whether one guy should be a starter, that’s another conversation. But, for the most part it is hard to argue that the guys that were selected don’t deserve to be there.
I believe there are a few contributing factors to the “snub” scenario.
All-Star Snub Reason #1
First, there is just a larger pool of talented players. Todays players are now putting up more numbers due to style of play in the current NBA. There used to be a time where one or two guys didn’t make the All-Star team. Maybe there were a few people talking, but now fans make lists of guys that didn’t make it and they honestly have valid arguments. The NBA (and basketball in general) is producing more skilled players at a much higher rate. Gone are the days of the one-dimensional players. Charles Oakley, Chris Dudley or Desmond Mason, where you were on the court for literally one thing. Present day centers are expected to have jumpers and basic perimeter handles of the basketball. Even a defensive specialist like Patrick Beverley can knock down 3s if left open.
All-Star Snub Reason #2
Second, is the harsh reality that there are not enough spaces for everyone. You see, some slots are almost guaranteed to be taken each year. In the West, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and now Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic are almost guaranteed unless they are dealing with injuries. That only leaves 5 spots for guys to compete for. So when you look at some of the top remaining players in the West like Damian Lillard, Devon Booker, Chris Paul, Jamal Murray, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, John Wall, Zion Williamson and DeMar DeRozan, who doesn’t make the cut? When Michael Jordan was dominating the 90s, other shooting guards in the Eastern Conference such as Steve Smith and Reggie Miller knew that they really were competing for one slot at the SG rather than two slots that were listed with the format they had back then.
All-Star Snub Reason #3
Lastly, does your All-Star selection snub play for a team with a winning record? You would think averaging 20 points is 20 points regardless of who you play for. But, doing it for a team that is winning and has more televised games helps one player get seen more by voters and hurts the guy that doesn’t get as much shine. Obviously, guys on sub-par teams can and have made all-star teams but having a winning record helps.
The players that get snubbed also have additional reasons to feel anger from not getting selected. Besides a shot at their own pride, players selected to the All-Star game receive additional money. $50,000 to each player on the winning team and $25,000 to each on the losing squad. This is also an opportunity to build upon your brand. There might be possible deals with sponsors. Finally, for some, adding All-Star to their resume helps Hall of Fame chances down the line.
Should the All-Star roster be expanded to 15 instead of 12? Should the voting system be restructured? We saw one of the more exciting All-Star games last year with a reformatted game. Maybe it is time for the selection to change as well.
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Andrew has been around the game of basketball his entire life as a player, coach, consultant and trainer. He was a two sport athlete in Basketball and Track & Field at Emmanuel College and spent 3 years in China working for the NBA and playing in various leagues throughout the country. He currently lives in Oakland, CA where he runs his own training company, Andrew Heath Basketball.