I wanted to write this two days ago, but I held myself back from the keyboard so I could form some complete thoughts on this subject.
The NBA revealed the starters for the 2017 All-Star game on Thursday and like most people my first thought was, “Where’s Russell Westbrook?”
As much as I admire Westbrook’s accomplishments this season and think he should have been voted a Western Conference starter over Steph Curry, I don’t find it egregious. The decision makes sense to me, especially when Curry’s contribution are adjusted for the talent surrounding him. Do I agree with it? Not really. Do I understand why it happened? Absolutely. When it’s a combination of the media, player, and fan votes, situations like this are bound to happen
The Westbrook argument doesn’t interest me as much because it seems too obvious. A guy that is averaging a triple-double should be starting in the All-Star game. End of story.
The decision that I do find worth arguing against, though, is that of Kyle Lowry not being named a starting guard in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Lowry’s teammate DeMar DeRozan were named the starters, which to a casual viewer of the NBA this season seems like a smart move.
Instead of arguing against DeRozan or Irving, I just want to say this: Kyle Lowry is the best guard in the East, which means I think he should have gotten in over either of these players.
Lets take a look at Lowry’s stats this season.
The 6-foot-1 guard is averaging 22.3 points, 7.0 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game – all career highs. He is also shooting a career-best 47.5-percent from the floor and has an effective field goal percentage of 58.6-percent. Oh yeah, Lowry’s also shooting 43.8-percent from three (a career-high as well).
Lowry is second in the league in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (7.34), only behind Chris Paul. For reference, his teammate DeRozan is ranked 114th in the league in RPM (0.40). The Raptors need Lowry on the court. DeRozan is an incredible scorer, but Lowry keeps the Raptors’ wheels turning regardless of who is on the floor with him.
And I said I wouldn’t do this, but if you really want to argue Irving over Lowry, consider this: Lowry has played six more games, has a higher field goal percentage, a higher three-point percentage, while also averaging more steals, assists, rebounds per game than Irving. Irving just edges him out in the scoring department, as he averages 23.7 points per game.
Keep in mind this is all happening for Lowry at the age of 30. He is having career year at an age when several players start to slow down, and lets remember that he was named an All-Star starter the past two years with inferior stats. The guy is hitting his peak in his eleventh year in the league
Now at the end of the day, none of this actually matters. Lowry will be voted in as a reserve and we’ll soon forget about this whole debacle. I think it’s important to note that this situation speaks volume to the under appreciation fans (and apparently some media) have for a guy like Lowry’s game. The guard does everything for his team and helps them win consistently every year (the Raptors currently sit at second in the Eastern Conference with a 28-15 record).
One thing I won’t argue against, though, is the incredible amount of guard talent there is in the East. We are so lucky and we don’t even appreciate it.