Saturday, July 20, 2024

NBA All-Star snubs: De’Aaron Fox was absolutely robbed, and the wrong Knick was picked

The NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday night, seven from each conference, and of course we are all more interested in the guys who got snubbed than the ones who actually made the team. As for the latter, here are your 2022-23 NBA All-Stars.

Western Conference

  • Starters: Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, Zion Williamson, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic
  • Reserves: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ja Morant, Damian Lillard, Domantas Sabonis, Jaren Jackson Jr., Lauri Markannen, Paul George

Eastern Conference

  • Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving
  • Reserves: Joel Embiid, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday, Tyrese Haliburton, Bam Adebayo, DeMar DeRozan, Julius Randle

So now that the 24 names are set, let’s get to the handful of snubs. We realize that in order to call someone a snub with full credibility you have to say who they should’ve made the team in place of — and we’re going there. Guys like Anthony Edwards and Jimmy Butler have real cases but not stronger than the guys below. But we couldn’t decide who they definitively should have replaced. 

With that in mind, these are the six players were truly robbed of an All-Star spot. 

Snubs

The Kings are the No. 3 team in the West and just two games back of the No. 2 spot. They deserved two All-Stars. Who should Fox have replaced? Paul George, who has played 37 games to Fox’s 47 while Fox averages more points (24 to 23) and assists (6 to 5) with a better shooting percentage (50 percent to 46) as the engine of his team. 

NOTE: Anthony Edwards should have made it over George as well, but Fox deserves it over Edwards, so he’s the snub. 

Drilling down on Fox’s overall All-Star production, he has been the best clutch player in the league this year (though I will accept an argument for SGA). In the final five minutes of games within five points, Fox is tops in PTS and FGM while connecting at a 60-percent clip. 

Fox’s midrange proficiency has made him virtually indefensible with his ability to blow by defenders who push up; among all guards who have made at least 100 shots in the paint, only Luka Doncic has a better success rate than Fox’s 52.6 percent. 

This is egregious. Fox has been so great all season. Not relative to his own past standards; relative to just about everyone. To suggest he hasn’t been one of the 12 best players in the conference this season is nothing more than confirmation that you haven’t been watching. — Brad Botkin

Only one Knick was going to make the team, and it wound up being the wrong one. Randle has been very good. This isn’t a knock on him or the season he’s having. This is about how much Brunson has changed this Knicks team. This isn’t a stats thing. You just know it when you see it. 

But if you want stats, Brunson is one of just two players averaging at least 22 points and six assists on at least 39-percent 3-point shooting. The other is an All-Star stater, and his name is Stephen Curry. Also, in clutch time, Brunson has been the far more productive player. 

2022-23 CLUTCH TOTALS

MIN

PTS

AST

TO

SHOOTING SPLITS

Jalen Brunson

119.7

105

12

3

47-39-84

Julius Randle

120.8

56

13

11

27-23-72

For my money, I would have taken Brunson over both Holiday and DeRozan as well. But at the very least he should have made it over Randle, who’s success, at least in part, can actually be attributed to the duties he no longer has to fulfill because of Brunson. — Brad Botkin

Young had a shaky start from a shooting perspective, but in his last 20 games he’s averaged 27.3 points on 60.7 percent true shooting, plus 10 assists. Overall he’s third in the NBA in assists per game, just percentage points behind Haliburton, and he has played 1,634 minutes and 298 more than Haliburton. 

The Hawks have been an aggressively average team, but Young remains one of the premier offensive players in the NBA. When he missed out on the 2021 All-Star Game, it looked silly a few months later; the same could be true this time.James Herbert

It’s pretty tough to keep a guy off the All-Star team who is averaging 21.4 points with a 60.4 true-shooting percentage while leading the league in assists, especially when he plays for a Sixers team that got just one All-Star despite being tied for the East’s No. 2 seed with Milwaukee. 

The Bucks, on the other hand, got two All-Stars in Antetokounmpo and Holiday. The former can’t be argued. The latter can. Harden averages more points, assists and rebounds than Holiday. He shoots significantly better from 3. 

Obviously Holiday is a huge part of Milwaukee’s top-shelf defense, and we should pay that the attention it deserves. But not at the expense of a guy like Harden who is responsible for far more than Holiday on the offensive end. Would I rather have Holiday in the playoffs? Yes. Is Harden the slightly more deserving All-Star? Yes. 

What about DeRozan? He’s surely no defensive ace, and Harden is better than him offensively, if in more subtle ways than the past (which I think actually bolsters his case this season). 

For as much credit as we give Joel Embiid, it is Harden who has assisted on over half his buckets, more than the rest of the Sixers combined. Also, even without Embiid on the court, Harden keeps the Sixers operating at an offensive rate that would rank sixth in the league with a safely positive point differential. Those are vital numbers for Philadelphia, and further All-Star arguments for Harden over Holiday and/or DeRozan. — Brad Botkin

Gordon is not a typical All-Star. He has a 20.9 percent usage rate, he’s third on his team in scoring and he’s fourth on his team in field goal attempts. There is plenty of precedent, though, for All-Defense types on great teams to get an invite — Draymond Green and Ben Wallace both have four All-Star appearances. 

Gordon likely won’t win Defensive Player of the Year, but he’s much more than just a stopper for the top team in the West. He’s scoring more efficiently than ever, dunking absolutely everything around the rim and generally thriving in Denver’s read-and-react offense. 

Compare this to Jaren Jackson Jr. They average almost identical points and rebounds with also identical usage rates, but as mentioned, Gordon, if you want a tiebreaker, puts the ball in the basket at a far more efficient clip, as shown below via Cleaning the Glass’s points per 100 shot attempts and effective field goal percentage. 

2022-23 SCORING EFFICIENCY

PSA

EFG%

Aaron Gordon

127.2

62.5

Jaren Jackson Jr.

120.4

56.3

One last thing: Gordon has played 46 games to Jackson’s 35, and 444 more total minutes. Denver is the No.1 team. Memphis is No. 2. It might be splitting hairs, but if one team deserved two All-Stars instead of one, it was the Nuggets. — James Herbert

Take your pick of between Randle, Holiday and DeRozan. Siakam should have made the All-Star team over all of them. If you think the Raptors stink, well, so do the Bulls. To make this work with all the other snubs, we’ll put Brunson in for Randle, Young in for Holiday, and Siakam in for DeRozan. 

Siakam’s shooting efficiency has cratered, but the numbers are off the charts. Only seven players in league history have averaged at least 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds on at least 47-percent shooting. If Siam maintains his current production, he will become the eighth, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic. 

If you’re in that company, you’re an All-Star. — Brad Botkin

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