Sports Commentary by: Jake Johnston
The starting line-ups for the NBA All Star Game on February 19th in New Orleans have been released, and many people are questioning the results and more specifically the process of the All Star voting. This year’s results are drawing more attention than past years as this is one of the first times players and fans are criticizing the results.
Representing the East as starters are Demar Derozan, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler while the West starters are Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden.
Steve Kerr has been selected to coach the West, while the East have yet to announce their coach. The coach of the team with the best record traditionally serves that role, and this honor is calculated at the All Star break.
The controversy of the starting lineups lies less in who was included and more in who was left out. Despite having what is statistically one of the best seasons in NBA history, Russell Westbrook was left out of the starting line-up which has set off many who believe he was snubbed out of the starting spot by the voting process.
Westbrook has, however, been given the consolation prize of being included in the Western conference’s roster as a reserve.
As we near the midway point of the regular season, Westbrook averages a triple-double which means he averages above 10 assists, points and rebounds per game. Oscar Robertson is the only player in history to average a triple-double for the entire regular season, so Westbrook is on track to join some elite company and possibly one of the greatest seasons of all time.
With sixty triple-doubles, Westbrook recently passed Larry Bird to reach 5th on the all-time triple-doubles list.
He also currently leads the league averaging 30.8 points per game and is 2nd in assist with 10.4 per game.
Steph Curry and James Harden are the guards that received more votes than Westbrook, and while each are having great seasons, Westbrook’s historical numbers are more impressive than any player player in decades.
Not only are his individual stats impressive, Westbrook has lead the Thunder to a 27-18 record which means they’re currently a six seed in the stacked Western Conference.
With Westbrook not on the starting roster after such an impressive season to this point, some are questioning the format of the all-star voting and whether it truly allows for the best players to earn starting positions.
In the current format, the fan vote accounts for for 50% of the vote while the players and media account for 25% each. It appears based on a wide range of votes by the players and fans that each of these groups might not take the voting seriously as players that clearly did not deserve votes still received some.
While Westbrook will not be starting, he will certainly earn a spot on the West’s roster and play significant minutes in the game.
As for the game itself, the West are certainly favorites clearly displaying themselves as the better conference this season. Their success could come down to the chemistry between rivals and former teammates such as Westbrook and Durant who claim to have not spoken since Durant left for the Thunder for Golden State.