NBA Twitter is capable of swaying the lasting perception of players’ legacies decades from now.
I know that sounds drastic, but it’s true. I’m not talking about a viral gif or fans sniffing out what may or may not be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s burner account.
I’m talking about All-Star voting and the absolute joke that it has become.
The size of your fan base (team or individual) should not dictate whether you have a place on the All-Star team. Popularity is clearly taking precedence over actual basketball prowess in the fan voting, and it’s laughable. But not for players like Damian Lillard or Devin Booker who have been, and continue to be, overlooked by fans.
Lakers guard Alex Caruso is giving Trailblazers guard Damian Lillard a race for the third-most backcourt votes in the deep Western Conference. To put into context how blasphemous that is, Lillard lit up Golden State for a career-high 61 points in a win on Monday night. Caruso, in nine games played since the calendar flipped to 2020, has scored 50 total.
But at least Lillard is beating out Caruso in votes. Here’s some Western Conference guards who are behind Caruso and his 5.6 points per game average in the voting: Russell Westbrook (25.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game, second-best player on a playoff team), Donovan Mitchell (24.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, best player on a playoff team) and Devin Booker (26.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game, best player on a team that is two games out of the eighth seed in the West).
Booker has been in the league for five years and has averaged north of 22 points per game for four of those seasons. All he has to show for it is a nod to the All-Rookie team because he’s been on the lowly Suns for his entire young career.
I don’t think Booker should be in any MVP conversations but don’t penalize a good stats, bad team guy when it comes to the All-Star game, especially if bad stats, good team guys like Caruso and Boston’s Tacko Fall (four games played) are showing up on ballots.
Now is a good a time as any to out myself: I am a Lakers fan. But I don’t think Caruso or Dwight Howard should be anywhere on these ballot returns.
I am also a basketball purist. Two things can be true at once.
It’s criminal that Booker has yet to be named to an All-Star team or that Lillard missed the cut in 2015-16 and 2016-17. A few years ago, the NBA changed the All-Star voting format because of online campaigns, like those for Fall and Caruso, almost put Zaza Pachulia among the NBA’s best. Now, fans account for 50% of the vote for starters and members of the media and players each get a 25% share.
Those who do not make the starting roster (two frontcourt spots, two guards, and there’s a whole other debate to be had about these near-archaic designations in a positionless league) can then be named to the reserves by the league’s coaches, or not.
Consider this my call to reason: vote for those qualified to be among the NBA’s 24 best players. If you’re waiting every 24 hours to submit a vote for an undeserving player, then you’re exactly what’s wrong with fan voting. And don’t be surprised if the fan voting share is chopped again if this current trend continues.
Follow Kyle on Twitter @Kkylewood and contact him at [email protected].