New voting system helps Warriors star earn starting all-star game spot over Westbrook
The NBA recently announced the starting lineups for the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans the results sent ripples through the basketball world. James Harden deservingly earned one of the Western Conference’s starting backcourt nods. It was the other backcourt selection, Steph Curry, who shocked many by being named the West’s other starting guard over Russell Westbrook.
To start, Curry’s selection isn’t completely unwarranted. Steph has won back-to-back MVPs and is putting up comparable numbers this season to those from his 2014-15 MVP season. Through 42 games, Curry’s averaging a respectable 24.6 points per game, along with 6.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds a game. He’s also knocking down 40 percent of his threes. Those are definitely numbers deserving of an all-star nod, but more deserving than Westbrook? Doubtful.
Russell Westbrook – Triple-Double Machine
Simply put, Westbrook has been tearing up the NBA this season. Since Kevin Durant’s offseason departure to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook has single-handedly carried his Oklahoma City Thunder through the first half of the season. The team is 25-19, good enough for 6th in the Western Conference. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double with a league-leading 30.6 points per game, along with 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists over 44 games. He’s the first player to average a triple-double this late in a season since Oscar Robertson did so in 1961-62. To help put the season Westbrook is having into perspective, he has a triple-double in 21 games, which equates to nearly half (47.8%) of his team’s games. Given how much Westbrook individually carries his team, it would have been safe to assume he’d be an all-star starter.
Reason Behind Curry Starting
Although Curry didn’t deserve to be an all-star starter over Westbrook, recency bias stemming from the past few seasons of Curry’s ascension could explain his incredible success in the fan vote. After all, Curry became one of the NBA’s most marketable athletes over the past few years. He continues to redefine today’s game by knocking down three-pointers from limitless range. He has an NBA title to his name and led the Warriors to an NBA record 73 wins in 2015-16. Curry’s three-point prowess helped usher in today’s pace-and-space game. Despite not having quite the same impact as last year, Curry remains one of the NBA’s top players.
An article by The Score’s Patrick Britton explains how this year’s all-star voting system prevented Westbrook from getting the starting nod. According to Britton, Westbrook edged out both Curry and Harden in the player and media all-star votes but finished third in fan voting behind the two others. Harden, meanwhile, finished second in player, media, and fan voting, while Curry finished first in fan votes and third amongst media and players. Under the new all-star voting rules, fan vote counts as the tiebreaker, which explains how Curry edged out Westbrook.
Despite his snub from a starting spot, Westbrook will surely be named an all-star reserve. It’s the least coaches and media can do to recognize his super-human play this season. After that happens, Westbrook should set his sights on a third straight all-star game MVP.