All-Star votes are a long-entrenched aspect of the game, one that gives fans a lot of power, but at what cost?
John Wall spoke out last week against the current state of All-Star voting in the NBA, and he had good reason to – right now he is projected to back up Kyrie Irving who has only played in six games so far this season. This may just be the first round of voting, but it rehashes a long-debated problem: how do we make the All-Star lineups more indicative of the best players in the NBA?
Certainly, by having fans contribute so heavily to the process there will always be scenarios in which aging stars like Kobe Bryant start over young and rising studs that may be much more deserving of the spot (Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, and Anthony Davis come to mind). Some legends get more recognition than others, as Tim Duncan seems light-years more deserving than Kobe of a starting All-Star spot.
This negative aspect of the All-Star game may not be fixable, as fans will forever vote for long-tenured stars who have made an impact on the game (Dwayne Wade being another example) over up-and-comers. Every year there are snubs that the basketball community protests against. Maybe the addition of two extra “starting spots” or just spots in general could help alleviate this problem and get more deserving players who just miss the cut into the game.
In the East, a far more troubling problem has presented itself. Injured stars are increasingly voted in over players who have played in a significantly larger number of games. The most glaring example this year is Kyrie Irving, who currently sits 10,000 votes above the next challenger (Kyle Lowry) for the second starting guard spot in the East. Irving has played in six games so far this year, while Lowry, Butler, and Wall have played in 36, 32, and 32, respectively.
One easy solution to this problem is to instill a games or minutes played minimum for players, or at least starters, in the All-Star game. In the second way, fans could still get some of their beloved injured players into lineups. However, one could argue that Kyrie has provided only a little more this season than say, Dante Exum who will miss 2015-2016 with a torn ACL. Not that Exum would have been an All-Star, but it is certainly unfair for Kyrie to get the designation, having barely played at all so far.
One last issue that comes to mind surrounds incentives given out for All-Star voting (The Derrick Rose Rule), the results for which are clearly not directly correlated to playing ability and output. It would seem to make sense for Adam Silver to put a limitation on this, in favor of other benchmarks and milestones.
With new results set to come out on Jan. 7th, the NBA will have a lot to think about in terms of tweaking this process in the coming years.
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