Reservations about the All-Star reserves

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Last night the NBA announced the players who were selected as All-Star reserves. These players were selected by NBA coaches and are supposed to represent the best players that the NBA has to offer. As with the selection of the All-Star starters, a few predictable mistakes were made. First let’s start with who was selected:

Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
James Harden 25.8 50.0% 6.0 W G
David Lee 19.6 63.4% 4.5 W F
Tony Parker 19.8 75.6% 5.3 W G
Tim Duncan 17.5 75.6% 6.6 W F
Russell Westbrook 22.7 76.7% 4.4 W G
Zach Randolph 16.1 65.9% 5.7 W F
LaMarcus Aldridge 20.6 50.0% 2.1 W F
West Averages: 20.3 65.3% 4.9 W 4F/3G
Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Chris Bosh 17.3 69.2% 3.3 E F
Tyson Chandler 12.2 64.1% 9.0 E F
Joakim Noah 12.2 61.0% 6.2 E F
Paul George 17.3 60.5% 5.6 E G
Luol Deng 17.4 61.0% 4.2 E F
Kyrie Irving 23.7 25.6% 2.8 E G
Jrue Holiday 19.0 40.5% 3.1 E G
East Averages: 17.0 54.5% 4.9 E 4F/3G

The coaches made some good decisions and some not-so-good decisions, and they follow predictable rules:

  1. A player selected to the All-Star team generally has to play for a winning team. No reserve in the West is on a team with a losing record at the moment, and only two from the East have a losing record.
  2. A player selected to the All-Star team generally scores a lot of points on a per game basis. Other than Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah, every player is ranked in the top 45 in points per game  (PPG).
  3. If a player doesn’t have a high PPG, they should rebound or assist well. The three lowest scoring reserves are all ranked in the top ten in rebounds per game.

According to these rules, the players who most fans and pundits will regard as “snubs” are:

Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Stephen Curry 20.9 63.4% 5.1 W G
Monta Ellis 18.8 55.0% 0.9 E G
Brandon Jennings 18.7 55.0% 3.0 E G
Brook Lopez 18.6 61.9% 3.0 E F
Damian Lillard 18.3 50.0% 3.0 W G
Joe Johnson 17.4 61.9% 2.6 E G
Rudy Gay 17.3 65.9% 1.2 W F
Deron Williams 17.0 61.9% 3.6 E G
Jamal Crawford 16.7 74.4% 1.2 W G
Josh Smith 16.7 57.1% 1.2 E F
Danilo Gallinari 16.6 59.1% 3.3 W F
David West 16.6 60.5% 3.7 E F
Nicolas Batum 16.5 50.0% 6.8 W F
J.R. Smith 16.5 64.1% 1.8 E G
Carlos Boozer 16.1 61.0% 3.1 W F
Klay Thompson 16.0 63.4% 1.7 W G
Raymond Felton 15.8 64.1% 0.1 E G
Al Horford 15.6 57.1% 3.6 E F
Serge Ibaka 14.0 76.7% 5.4 W F
J.J. Hickson 12.4 50.0% 5.8 W F
Kenneth Faried 12.0 59.1% 6.5 W F
Omer Asik 10.2 50.0% 4.0 W F

But you’ll notice that a lot of these players aren’t actually producing wins for their teams. Who should have been selected as an All-Star reserve?

Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Andrei Kirilenko 13.7 43.6% 7.3 W F
Nicolas Batum 16.5 50.0% 6.8 W F
Tim Duncan 17.5 75.6% 6.6 W F
Kenneth Faried 12.0 59.1% 6.5 W F
James Harden 25.8 50.0% 6.0 W G
J.J. Hickson 12.4 50.0% 5.8 W F
Jared Dudley 12.0 33.3% 5.5 W G
West Averages: 15.7 51.7% 6.4 W 5F/2G
Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Tyson Chandler 12.2 64.1% 9.0 E F
Andre Drummond 7.5 38.1% 6.4 E F
Joakim Noah 12.2 61.0% 6.2 E F
Jose Calderon 11.2 35.7% 6.2 E G
Anderson Varejao 14.1 25.6% 6.1 E F
Jason Kidd 8.3 64.1% 5.9 E G
Paul George 17.3 60.5% 5.6 E G
Tristan Thompson* 10.6 25.6% 4.8 E F
West Averages: 11.7 46.8% 6.3 E 5F/3G

* selected to replace Varejao, who is out for the season. Players in italics not selected as All-Star reserves.

These 15 players (it would be only 14 — seven for each conference — but Anderson Varejao is out for the season and needed replacing) would be suiting up as All-Star reserves if we selected players based on their productivity. Of the 15, only  five — Tim Duncan, James Harden, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, and Paul George — were actually selected as reserves, a dismal 35% hit rate. It looks a bit better when we consider that most of the actual Western conference reserves — James Harden, David Lee, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, and Zach Randolph — are still in the West’s top 25 in Wins Produced. And in the East, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Paul George, and Luol Deng all finished in the East’s top 25. Together, that means that ten out of the 14 players selected as reserves were in the top 25 in their conference for wins.

But that means that four of the reserves — LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh, Jrue Holiday, and Kyrie Irving — did not finish in the top 25 in wins in their conference. And there are plenty of deserving candidates to replace them:

Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Andrei Kirilenko 13.7 43.6% 7.3 W F
Nicolas Batum 16.5 50.0% 6.8 W F
Kenneth Faried 12.0 59.1% 6.5 W F
Andre Drummond 7.5 38.1% 6.4 E F
Jose Calderon 11.2 35.7% 6.2 E G
Anderson Varejao 14.1 25.6% 6.1 E F
Jason Kidd 8.3 64.1% 5.9 E G
J.J. Hickson 12.4 50.0% 5.8 W F
Jared Dudley 12.0 33.3% 5.5 W G
Thabo Sefolosha 7.2 76.7% 5.5 W G
Matt Barnes 11.2 74.4% 5.4 W F
Serge Ibaka 14.0 76.7% 5.4 W F
Marc Gasol 13.2 65.9% 5.3 W F
Shawn Marion 10.6 42.9% 5.2 W F
Mike Conley 13.3 65.9% 5.2 W G
Stephen Curry 20.9 63.4% 5.1 W G
Tristan Thompson 10.6 25.6% 4.8 E F
Tiago Splitter 10.3 75.6% 4.8 W F
Chandler Parsons 14.2 50.0% 4.7 W F
Lance Stephenson 7.7 60.5% 4.6 E G
Paul Millsap 14.8 54.8% 4.5 W F
Larry Sanders 8.2 55.0% 4.5 E F
George Hill 14.5 60.5% 4.3 E G
Jimmy Butler 6.1 61.0% 4.3 E F
Nikola Vucevic 11.8 33.3% 4.2 E F

 

Who will win?

One last thought: who is going to win the All-Star game, the West or the East?

Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
Kevin Durant 29.6 76.7% 12.0 W F
Chris Paul 16.6 74.4% 9.5 W G
Tim Duncan 17.5 75.6% 6.6 W F
James Harden 25.8 50.0% 6.0 W G
Zach Randolph 16.1 65.9% 5.7 W F
Tony Parker 19.8 75.6% 5.3 W G
Blake Griffin 18.3 74.4% 5.2 W F
Dwight Howard 16.7 40.5% 4.8 W F
David Lee 19.6 63.4% 4.5 W F
Russell Westbrook 22.7 76.7% 4.4 W G
Kobe Bryant 29.2 40.5% 4.1 W G
LaMarcus Aldridge 20.6 50.0% 2.1 W F
West Average 21.0 63.6% 5.9 W 7F/5G
Player PPG Team W% Wins Conf. Pos
LeBron James 26.5 69.2% 9.2 E F
Tyson Chandler 12.2 64.1% 9.0 E F
Joakim Noah 12.2 61.0% 6.2 E F
Rajon Rondo 13.4 48.8% 5.7 E G
Paul George 17.3 60.5% 5.6 E G
Dwyane Wade 20.5 69.2% 5.0 E G
Luol Deng 17.4 61.0% 4.2 E F
Chris Bosh 17.3 69.2% 3.3 E F
Jrue Holiday 19.0 40.5% 3.1 E G
Kyrie Irving 23.7 25.6% 2.8 E G
Kevin Garnett 14.7 48.8% 1.5 E F
Carmelo Anthony 29.2 64.1% 1.4 E F
East Average 18.6 56.8% 4.8 E 7F/5G

Note: italics denote All-Star starters

Probably the West. It will depend on playing time, and some player’s games don’t translate well to what is essentially a pick-up game, but the West has quite a better roster. Most notably, two of the East’s starters — Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony — are the two least productive players from either team.

- Devin

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