Should KG and Melo start in the All-Star game?

Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony

On Thursday the NBA announced the starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star game that will take place on February 17th in Houston. The players are voted in by fans across the globe, often leading to some interesting outcomes. This year, instead of voting for the usual two guards, two forwards, and a centre, voters were asked to select two guards and three front court (forwards and centres) players. The starters are:

Western Conference
Player Position Votes Wins Produced
Kobe Bryant Guard 1591437 5.0
Kevin Durant Front Court 1504047 10.3
Chris Paul Guard 929155 9.4
Dwight Howard Front Court 922070 4.8
Blake Griffin Front Court 863832 4.7
Totals 5810541 34.2
Eastern Conference
Player Position Votes Wins Produced 
LeBron James Front Court 1583646 8.5
Carmelo Anthony Front Court 1460950 3.3
Dwayne Wade Guard 1052310 4.5
Rajon Rondo Guard 924180 5.6
Kevin Garnett Front Court 553222 1.5
Totals 5574308 23.4

We here at the Wages of Wins understand that for many fans, the All-Star game is about supporting their favourite players. But what if the most productive players were selected to the All-Star game? What would those starting lineups look like? (numbers up to and including Thursday night’s games)

Western Conference
Player Position Votes* Wins Produced
Kevin Durant Front Court 1504047 10.3
Chris Paul Guard 929155 9.4
Andrei Kirilenko Front Court DNQ 6.4
Kenneth Faried Front Court DNQ 6.3
James Harden Guard 485986 5.9
Totals 2919188 38.3
Eastern Conference
Player Position Votes* Wins Produced
LeBron James Front Court 1583646 8.5
Tyson Chandler Front Court 467968 8.5
Anderson Varejao Front Court 149246 6.1
Jose Calderon Guard DNQ 5.7
Rajon Rondo Guard 924180 5.6
Totals 3125040 34.4

* only the top ten guards and top fifteen front court players qualified for the voting leader boards, and we don’t have the voting numbers for those who did not qualify.

In both cases the Western Conference has an edge on the Eastern Conference, but it’s clear that the voters made some particularly poor choices when it comes to the Eastern Conference. Kevin Garnett, who was voted to his 15th All-Star game, is no longer the player he once was. After leading the league in Wins Produced during the 2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06 seasons, Garnett has fallen to 146th in the current season. This is not overly surprising, as Garnett is 36 years old and playing in his 17th season. But Garnett gets a pass from fans for being an all-time great on one of the league’s most popular teams. The other poor choice for the Eastern Conference is Carmelo Anthony. Despite scoring a lot of points, Anthony has never been very productive. As a matter of fact, this has been the most productive season of Anthony’s career to date, and he’s only the third most productive player on his own team. But NBA fans are mesmerized by the high scoring totals that Anthony puts up, and he does currently play in the league’s biggest market, so the fans vote him in year after year.

The real travesty of all this is that Tyson Chandler, Anthony’s teammate, is tied with LeBron James for the most wins in the Eastern Conference. While Anthony gets most of the credit for the Knicks’ early success, it’s actually Chandler who leads the team in wins. The other front court player who has been overlooked the most is Anderson Varejao. Although he recently suffered an injury and will be out for the next one to two months, Varejao put up some monster games in the early part of the season. It seemed like this was the year that the underrated forward/centre would finally make an All-Star roster, but injuries continue to hound him and it seems unlikely he’ll make it as a reserve.

Finally, the perpetually underrated Jose Calderon is slightly more deserving of starting than perennial favourite Dwayne Wade. Calderon has produced the fourth most wins of any player — tops among guards and just ahead of Rajon Rondo — in the Eastern Conference. Wade, on the other hand, is twelfth in the East and sixth among guards. But the difference is close enough to excuse the fans for voting for the more exciting player (although the fans should have at least voted Calderon into the top ten). Here’s hoping that Calderon gets voted in as a reserve (fat chance).

In the Western Conference, voters did a pretty decent job of picking productive players. The two top players in the conference — Kevin Durant and Chris Paul — were both voted in. Additionally, Kobe Bryant (12th), Dwight Howard (15th), and Blake Griffin (19th) are all among the West’s top players. Andrei Kirilenko (3rd), Kenneth Faried (4th), and James Harden (7th) would all be better options, but the difference is somewhat forgivable. What isn’t forgivable, however, is the fact that both Kirilenko and Faried didn’t even make the top fifteen front court players in West. For shame, voters; for shame.

- Devin

PS: Over at The NBA Update, Arthur North independently came up with a very similar players for both the West and East starting lineups.

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