The Yay Points! All-Star Reserves

The All-Star starters were announced last week, and while there was one glaring error in each conference, the fans did an okay job. Selection of the All-Star reserves is left up to NBA coaches. The NBA's coaches are paid to know about basketball, so of course we can count on them to select the most deserving players...right?

Of course not; don't be silly. Let's start off the post with this year's Eastern Conference All-Stars.

Eastern Conference All-Star candidates, sorted by wins:

Player Wins Conference Rank PPG Conference Rank
LeBron James 11.1 1 26.2 2
Andre Drummond 9.4 2 12.6 41
Kyle Lowry 8.8 3 16.8 19
Lance Stephenson 8.0 4 14.2 30
Joakim Noah 7.3 5 11.7 51
Paul George 7.1 6 23.3 3
Trevor Ariza 6.6 7 14.0 31
Anderson Varejao 6.6 8 8.8 66
Carmelo Anthony 6.1 9 27.1 1
Kyle Korver 6.0 10 12.0 49
John Wall 4.2 15 19.8 7
Dwyane Wade 4.1 16 18.4 11
Paul Millsap 4.0 19 17.8 13
Roy Hibbert 3.6 25 11.8 50
Arron Afflalo 3.5 29 20.0 6
DeMar DeRozan 3.1 35 21.8 4
Kemba Walker 3.1 36 18.7 9
Luol Deng 3.0 39 18.0 12
Chris Bosh 2.9 45 16.9 17
Joe Johnson 2.9 43 15.7 23
Al Jefferson 2.6 52 19.3 8
Kyrie Irving 1.7 73 21.5 5
Evan Turner 0.8 104 18.5 10
Note: players in bold were selected to the All-Star game.

The Eastern Conference coaches somehow picked DeMar DeRozan over his teammate Kyle Lowry and Lance Stephenson! When I said that DeRozan was a better choice than Kyrie Irving, that didn't mean that he was a good choice! Lowry has been the best point guard in the conference, and Stephenson has been better than his teammate, Paul George, and George is getting MVP buzz! The other can't-miss player that the coaches missed is Andre Drummond. He's only produced the second-most wins in the conference – fifth-most in the entire NBA. Not like he's a good player or anything.

Even if the coaches had managed to pick the East's most productive players, the East was going to have a tough time against the West. Now it's pretty obvious that the West will mop the floor with them. But why did the coaches pick so poorly?

The answer is points, of course. Here is that same list, this time sorted by points per game (PPG) instead of wins.

Eastern Conference All-Star candidates, sorted by PPG:

Player Wins Conference Rank PPG Conference Rank
Carmelo Anthony 6.1 9 27.1 1
LeBron James 11.1 1 26.2 2
Paul George 7.1 6 23.3 3
DeMar DeRozan 3.1 35 21.8 4
Kyrie Irving 1.7 73 21.5 5
Arron Afflalo 3.5 29 20.0 6
John Wall 4.2 15 19.8 7
Al Jefferson 2.6 52 19.3 8
Kemba Walker 3.1 36 18.7 9
Evan Turner 0.8 104 18.5 10
Dwyane Wade 4.1 16 18.4 11
Luol Deng 3.0 39 18.0 12
Paul Millsap 4.0 19 17.8 13
Chris Bosh 2.9 45 16.9 17
Kyle Lowry 8.8 3 16.8 19
Joe Johnson 2.9 43 15.7 23
Lance Stephenson 8.0 4 14.2 30
Trevor Ariza 6.6 7 14.0 31
Andre Drummond 9.4 2 12.6 41
Kyle Korver 6.0 10 12.0 49
Roy Hibbert 3.6 25 11.8 50
Joakim Noah 7.3 5 11.7 51
Anderson Varejao 6.6 8 8.8 66
Note: players in bold were selected to the All-Star game.

Boy, I wonder how the coaches picked their All-Stars? I'm sure it has nothing to do with scoring a lot of points while playing on a winning team. Coaches also have this strange notion that a team's record determines the number of All-Stars it's allowed to have. Miami and Indiana are a cut above the rest of the East, so they get more than one All-Star. Of course, Miami gets one more All-Star than Indiana, because they have the heart of a champion. Hibbert is highly regarded for his defense and gets the nod over Stephenson, who is very productive, but doesn't score enough for coaches. Teams hovering around 0.500 can only have one All-Star, so Toronto, Atlanta, Washington, Chicago, and Brooklyn get one All-Star apiece. DeRozan, Millsap, Wall, and Johnson score the most points on their respective teams and are easy picks for coaches. Noah doesn't score many points, but even the coaches can't ignore his other skills. Either that, or the fact that, after trading away Luol Deng and losing Derrick Rose to another injury, Chicago doesn't have anyone who scores a lot of points.

Does the West look any better?

Western Conference All-Star candidates, sorted by wins:

Player Wins Conference Rank PPG Conference Rank
Kevin Durant 13.0 1 31.3 1
DeAndre Jordan 11.1 2 9.6 67
Kevin Love 10.2 3 25.0 2
Chris Paul 8.7 4 19.6 14
Nicolas Batum 8.1 5 12.6 45
Andrew Bogut 7.5 6 7.9 75
Stephen Curry 7.5 7 24.1 4
Goran Dragic 7.2 8 19.7 13
Anthony Davis 7.1 9 20.4 10
Ricky Rubio 6.7 10 8.5 71
Wesley Matthews 6.7 11 16.8 30
Andre Iguodala 6.1 12 9.9 63
Blake Griffin 6.1 13 22.9 6
Kawhi Leonard 6.0 14 11.6 51
Dwight Howard 5.8 15 18.1 21
Chandler Parsons 5.7 17 17.3 25
Ty Lawson 5.7 18 17.9 24
James Harden 5.7 19 23.7 5
Isaiah Thomas 4.5 32 19.9 12
DeMarcus Cousins 4.0 34 22.6 7
Damian Lillard 3.9 35 20.6 9
LaMarcus Aldridge 3.7 38 24.3 3
Dirk Nowitzki 3.7 39 21.6 8
Tony Parker 3.0 51 18.1 22
Rudy Gay 2.4 68 19.9 11
Kobe Bryant -0.2 DNQ 13.8 DNQ
Note: players in bold were selected to the All-Star game.

Not really. There are a lot of players at the top of that list who weren't selected, and the coaches selected four players who are right near the bottom. DeAndre Jordan is the most productive centre in the NBA, and despite Doc Rivers' lobbying, the coaches don't think he deserves to make the All-Star team. Not only that, but he doesn't even make some of the Western Conference snub lists! Nic Batum, Andrew Bogut, Goran Dragic, and Anthony Davis have every right to be peeved as well. So the coaches kinda blew it again.

Anyone want to take a stab at how the coaches picked their Western All-Star reserves? You guessed it: Yay Points!

Western Conference All-Star candidates, sorted by PPG:

Player Wins Conference Rank PPG Conference Rank
Kevin Durant 13.0 1 31.3 1
Kevin Love 10.2 3 25.0 2
LaMarcus Aldridge 3.7 38 24.3 3
Stephen Curry 7.5 7 24.1 4
James Harden 5.7 19 23.7 5
Blake Griffin 6.1 13 22.9 6
DeMarcus Cousins 4.0 34 22.6 7
Dirk Nowitzki 3.7 39 21.6 8
Damian Lillard 3.9 35 20.6 9
Anthony Davis 7.1 9 20.4 10
Rudy Gay 2.4 68 19.9 11
Isaiah Thomas 4.5 32 19.9 12
Goran Dragic 7.2 8 19.7 13
Chris Paul 8.7 4 19.6 14
Dwight Howard 5.8 15 18.1 21
Tony Parker 3.0 51 18.1 22
Ty Lawson 5.7 18 17.9 24
Chandler Parsons 5.7 17 17.3 25
Wesley Matthews 6.7 11 16.8 30
Nicolas Batum 8.1 5 12.6 45
Kawhi Leonard 6.0 14 11.6 51
Andre Iguodala 6.1 12 9.9 63
DeAndre Jordan 11.1 2 9.6 67
Ricky Rubio 6.7 10 8.5 71
Andrew Bogut 7.5 6 7.9 75
Kobe Bryant -0.2 DNQ 13.8 DNQ
Note: players in bold were selected to the All-Star game.

If you score a lot of points, you get to play in the All-Star game. That is, unless your team isn't very good (say bye-bye to the three Kings). The coaches' failure to pick Anthony Davis and Goran Dragic looks even worse when you consider that they are productive and good at scoring. Tony Parker was a really bad choice here, as he doesn't rank highly in wins or PPG. But the Spurs are a really good team, and according to the Official Coaches Manual, a really good team needs at least one All-Star. As the Spurs' highest scoring player, Parker is the obvious choice. Dragic is clearly having a better year, but his Suns aren't as good as San Antonio.

With Kobe Bryant sitting out, the West will have at least one more All-Star. Who will it be? If scoring is more important to commissioner Silver, then he'll pick Davis; if he cares more about team success, he'll go for Dragic. If a player from Sacramento gets picked, you can bet that it will be DeMarcus Cousins, but I just don't see the commissioner giving the team with the worst record in the conference an All-Star.

What's one more table? Here are this year's Boxscore Geeks All-Stars:

Player Position Wins WP48 Conference
LeBron James F 11.1 0.326 East
Andre Drummond F 9.4 0.309 East
Kyle Lowry G 8.8 0.259 East
Lance Stephenson G 8.0 0.249 East
Joakim Noah F 7.3 0.242 East
Paul George F 7.1 0.215 East
Trevor Ariza F 6.6 0.228 East
Anderson Varejao F 6.6 0.238 East
Carmelo Anthony F 6.1 0.180 East
Kyle Korver G 6.0 0.209 East
George Hill G 5.3 0.199 East
Dwyane Wade G 4.1 0.189 East
Kevin Durant F 13.0 0.356 West
DeAndre Jordan F 11.1 0.311 West
Kevin Love F 10.2 0.307 West
Chris Paul G 8.7 0.354 West
Nicholas Batum F 8.1 0.236 West
Stephen Curry G 7.5 0.222 West
Andrew Bogut F 7.5 0.295 West
Anthony Davis F 7.2 0.240 West
Goran Dragic G 7.1 0.259 West
Ricky Rubio G 6.7 0.228 West
Wesley Matthews G 6.7 0.205 West
Andre Iguodala F 6.1 0.262 West
Note: players in bold were selected to the All-Star game.

No legacy or political picks here -- just the numbers. Although it should be noted that Dwyane Wade does get a little boost because he's missed some time and is more productive on a per-minute basis than the alternatives.

What about Tyson Chandler? Doesn't he qualify in the same way Wade does?
Well, so much for my comment last week that Stephenson is a "mortal lock" to make the team.

SMH.
BTW - a question regarding Joe Johnson. Do you give any weight to the idea that he has been more valuable than his pure Wins Produced would indicate due to his incredible efficiency in the clutch? I know, a basket scored in the last second of a tie game is worth the exact same number of points as the first basket of a game that ends up to be a blowout. But I just don't buy that they are of the same value. Joe Johnson has been an incredible 12-for-14 in final 30 seconds of games Nets are tied or behind by 3 last 2 years, including a couple of game winners each of the last 2 seasons. I think you've got to give him some credit there beyond his simple Wins Produced numbers.
benjibopper,

Chandler just doesn't have the win totals to be considered. After all, he's only managed about 600 minutes so far. If he had played about 200 more, he would've made it.

Al S,

There's a reason why I put Stephenson's name in the title of that last post! In regards to your second question, the answer is no. Even if you give him the benefit of the doubt (which I don't, because "clutch" is pure randomness), he would end up being only slightly above average. Certainly nowhere near enough to be considered a serious candidate for the All-Star game. For example, Tyson Chandler had more wins in less than half the minutes.
I think you mistakenly highlighted in bold Anthony Davis as an All-Star selection in your last table. I understand the slip, he deserves to be in the game!!!! He passes the YAY points test, the "eye" test as he's so incredibly athletic, and the game is being played in his home town. I understand his team has a poor record but they've had a lot of injuries too. That shouldn't override all the positives. I really hope he gets in as one of the injury replacements.
carlherrera,

Thanks for catching that. I managed to avoid highlight him (and Lowry...and Stephenson...and Drummond...and Jordan...and Dragic) in every single other table. Yes, it was tough! He's deserving, and the homecrowd factor may be the tipping point for him.
The selection of Lillard and Aldridge while Matthews and Batum stay home is a crime. They've done some very smart things down there in Portland, and if the coaches have no clue what's going on how is the general fanbase supposed to?
I really think Davis will get in, Stern (...Silver?) likes potential "stars" and former big picks to get spots. Davis is playing great and is the face of that franchise.
Players are discounted for being on losing teams, not scoring a lot of points, but you forgot one of the more important factors: being new to the league or being newly good. The major snubs are 2nd year players like the Brow and Drummond. And Lance has only been really good this year; I had to double check to make sure he wasn't a second year player. Coaches don't trust the kids of the league.
DG22,
It's true! Not only that, coaches trust their past judgements. So players that have been in AS games before get a boost because coaches/fans will say "Yeah, we've liked them before!"
@DG22/Dre

I think there is a little bit more than just that to it, the coaches are being asked a question that they are not necessarily suited to answer. For the most part during the season they just see opposing players in the light of a potential match-up, so I think they are uniquely unqualified for an impartial voting system of whom has been the best. Are some coaches terrible at identifying smart play and talent? Yes. Are some just mediocre? Yes. But I think many of them COULD do a better job if they didn't spend so much time on an entirely different task (making their team win which does not necessarily equate at all with knowing which player has gotten the most wins). I'd say for the most part if you were to ask a coach who could attack x defensive assignment that we have they would probably have an answer but that is an entirely different question.
Dodgson raises a point that's worth exploring further. If I am a NBA coach looking at opposing teams in the light of a potential match-up, the players that will be at the forefront of my mind are the high usage starters on the opposing team. It doesn't matter if it's a stud like LeBron or a dud like Rudy Gay - if that's who they give the ball to, that's who I have to stop.

I imagine it's really easy to conflate 'the best guy on their team' with 'the guy on their team we have to stop', even if they frequently are not the same guy at all.

Sign in to write a comment.