An All-Star Changing of the Guard



Each week throughout the 2021-22 NBA season, we’ll dig deeper into some of the league’s biggest storylines to see if trends are more fact-based or fiction-based going forward.

[ Last week’s Fact or Fiction: Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and the whims of lottery luck ]

We are witnessing the changing of the NBA guard

Not so long ago, All-Star announcements were met with debate each year about the extent to which an ascendant Damian Lillard had been snubbed. In 2017, the 26-year-old Portland Trail Blazers star was not voted into the game for three straight years as the greatest generation of senior ball guards the game had ever seen had a stranglehold on the game. position in the Western Conference. .

Five years later, we wonder if Lillard — still the biggest name in the NBA‘s rumored trade this past offseason — would even be an All-Star if he were healthy, as a new generation of guards appeared.

Lillard was plagued with an abdominal injury, which surely played a role in his career-worst effective goal percentage and ultimately required surgery that could cost him the rest of his 31-year-old season. He’ll be back, but when he gets there, he’ll be vying for All-Star appearances with a new generation.

Stephen Curry has always gotten a start in the West, and Chris Paul will land one of the two remaining guard positions on the bench, but the spot once reserved for Russell Westbrook is gone. You could argue that James Harden doesn’t even deserve to be an Eastern reserve, which was unthinkable just a few months ago, let alone a few years earlier, when Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker and even John Wall were All-Star staples.

Ja Morant is here to stay now. The 22-year-old Memphis Grizzlies point guard was the unanimous choice among fans, media and players to be the second West starting goaltender alongside Curry, and rightly so, as he is a true MVP candidate for the conference’s No. 3 seed years. before anyone sees it coming.

This season has yet to reach the standards of Luka Doncic, who at 22 are astronomically high, but he is still a lock for a reserve snap having started each of the last two years. Devin Booker will be a three-time All-Star guard at 25. That leaves Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray, 25, the only two other goalies in the West to receive outgoing votes from the media, battling for the final. joker spot.

In the East, 23-year-old Trae Young will make his second All-Star start in three seasons. A resurgent DeMar DeRozan secured the other starting guard position, but Zach LaVine, Fred VanVleet, Darius Garland and LaMelo Ball all received legitimate votes from the media. It will be up to league coaches and Harden’s hamstrings to decide if he still deserves a reserve role in his least productive season in a decade.

Meanwhile, Walker and Wall are afterthoughts on the lottery-related teams. Irving is another story. Thirteen guards finished higher than Lowry in the Eastern vote. Terry Rozier has received more love from current players.

To say there was an NBA changing of the guard is an understatement. Morant, Doncic, Young, Booker and Mitchell are now the must-haves. No less than five guards have a strong case for being All-Stars for the first time, and 20-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves sophomore Anthony Edwards will be knocking on that door next year.

The NBA’s greatest generation of guards gives way to a new one in the blink of an eye to a pandemic.

Determination: Do

Under-25 point guards Ja Morant and Trae Young secured two of the four starting backcourt spots at the 2022 All-Star Game. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fans deserve 50% of the All-Star vote

There’s a lot of talk about the media’s influence on All-NBA drafts, which can cost rising stars tens of millions of dollars, but if the All-Star Game vote is any indication, who else are you going to confide in? the process ?

Fans have voted Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins the biggest surprise All-Star starter in recent memory. Fandom is irrational and biased by nature. The fault lies more with the NBA, which gave them as much influence as the media and the players combined. If it was about who fans wanted to see more of, that would be great, but it’s not. A single tweet from a K-Pop star wields tremendous power over the process.

Wiggins may not be the Sanjaya of the NBA, but he may not even be his own team’s third most important player, let alone the third All-Star entry to the front row in the NBA. Where is. Whether or not he deserves the final conference roster spot is debatable, but Wiggins only appeared as a starter on four of 98 media ballots for a reason. Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green and Karl-Anthony Towns were all more deserving.

The players were less good in the process. More than half of those who voted did not believe Curry or Joel Embiid deserved to be incumbent. Nearly 300 different players received a starting vote. We can excuse most for voting for themselves, even if it’s inherently ridiculous, but there are plenty you’ve never heard of who received multiple votes from their peers. Ben Simmons was one of six players who didn’t play a single minute this season and still got a vote. He won two, in fact. Irving, who played in seven games, had 25.

The only media vote among 980 players for 10 starters you could quibble with is the one New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram received in the west frontcourt. I would take this 0.1% discrepancy for an error on the 594,823 fans who voted for Derrick Rose or the 3.1% of players who voted for Carmelo Anthony.

If any entity got 50% of the All-Star vote, it’s the media. Fans and gamers may disagree, but you need look no further than this year’s polls to once again determine that their opinions on the matter are less reliable.

Determination: fiction

Ballots don’t make sense either

Voters are also forced to select three frontcourt players and two backcourt players for each of the top five in a year when DeMar DeRozan — who technically hasn’t played a single possession on guard all year — was the No. 1 choice among fans, media and players for the Eastern Conference Forecourt. Make sense.

The panel can’t add Doncic, Booker or Paul alongside Curry and Morant because the NBA needs a third player on the front line next to LeBron James and Nikola Jokic, who can both play point guard and center ?

It’s an exhibition game. Give up positions. Anyone watching just wants the best players on the pitch.

Determination: Do

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is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have any advice? Email him or follow him on Twitter!