The NBA unveiled the 7 reserves for both the Eastern and Western Conference All Star teams earlier this evening. And, of course, after every All Star roster is announced, the only logical question to ask is, “So, who was snubbed?” Cases can probably be made for Warriors’ PG Steph Curry, Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol, Brooklyn Nets’ two Joe Johnson or, if we’re forgetting defense, maybe even the Clippers’ Jamal Crawford, among a host of others. But the snub, in my mind, has to be Brook Lopez.
Here’s a quick look at the reserves in the East:
- PF Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
- C Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
- PF/C Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
- SG/SF Paul George, Indiana Pacers
- SF Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
- PG Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers
- PG Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
No Brooklyn Nets, no Brook Lopez. What gives?
Here’s a guy who was dangled in Dwight Howard trade talks all summer, before signing a max 4-year, $61 million deal this offseason, much to the chagrin of NBA pundits, myself included, who didn’t see Lopez as a max guy, especially on a team with max deals already devoted to Deron Williams and Johnson. Now, with the Lakers in free fall and the Dwight Howard experiment not working as planned, L.A. may be looking for pre-deadline suitors for its impending free agent big, and Brooklyn, contrary to when he was with Orlando, is unlikely to come calling.
That’s all due to the season Lopez is having. In 35 starts, he’s averaging 18.6 points and 7.4 rebounds a night, all while shooting 52% from the field, 2 points ahead of his career mark, and 73% from the line (if only Howard could do that) — a symbol of consistency of a team with a coaching change and inconsistent play from its two stars, Williams and Johnson, in the past three months. He’s fourth in the NBA in PER, behind only superstars LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, and ahead of fellow New Yorker and likely MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony.
His 18.6 points lead the Nets — I mean, who would have thought Lopez, not Williams or Johnson, would be the leading scorer on this team? And his 2.1 blocks a night, also team-leading, help anchor a solid defensive front alongside Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries, as their 94.1 points allowed per night is third in the Eastern Conference, only trailing Indiana and Chicago.
The Nets, 26-16 and 9-1 in their last 10, are thriving under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and have pulled within a game of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks and 2.5 games of conference-leading Miami.
But it’s easy to say someone was snubbed without answering who you’re leaving off. Bosh, Chandler and Noah are the three big-man reserves with whom Lopez is competing, and Kevin Garnett was the only true big to be named, by fans, a starter. Chandler’s 19th in the league in PER, Bosh 22nd, Garnett 52nd and Noah 78th, a spot behind teammate Nate Robinson.
I don’t take exception with Chandler’s All Star nod, if only because of the defensive force he remains in the middle and how drastically his departure has killed a Dallas Mavericks team a year-and-a-half out from a championship. I also find it tough to criticize the selection of Bosh, who’s averaging 17.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds on the East’s top team.
Noah is perhaps deserving of an All Star bid, but not over Lopez. Yes, he anchors one of the league’s best defensive units. Yes, he’s one of the main reasons Chicago is fourth in the East, even minus it’s franchise player. But his 12.2 points, a career high, and 10.9 rebounds aren’t screaming All Star at me.
Nor does Garnett’s 14.7 points, the third-lowest of his career, and 7 rebounds, the lowest since his rookie year, on a mediocre Boston squad that may just sneak into the playoffs. Of course Garnett was voted in by the fans, so that’s a whole different bag of worms. (Food for thought: Garnett’s averaging 0.9 offensive rebounds per game, easily the lowest mark of his entire career.)
All Star rosters are never perfect, but if this year’s was, Brook Lopez’s name would be included.
Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.