NBA Rumor: All-Star Selections

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After knocking down a turnaround jumper over swingman Reggie Bullock with 1:49 left in regulation that gave the Sixers a four-point lead, Harris decided to remind everybody how he’s feeling about that perceived snub. “I’m an All-Star!” he was caught saying by the NBC Sports Philadelphia cameras. “That’s for sure what I said,” Harris said postgame. “For me, that’s just reaffirming that to myself. I know the fans know that, but reaffirming that to them and to myself, especially making those big plays. I try to just find motivation in different areas. That’s one of them.”

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“He was pissed off,” Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons said, referencing Harris and his omission from the All-Star team. “He should have been an All-Star. You got a few guys — myself and Joel on this team, and then Tobias, I think people just take for granted how talented he is. If he was on the team I don’t want to take anything away from any other All-Stars but if he was on a different team, he’s going to be putting up those numbers. It’s clear he’s able to do that. But obviously it went the way it went, but he is, no matter what. To us, he’s an All-Star, he’s one of those guys who can get it done, go get a bucket. He’s a big time player.”

What about Heat wing Jimmy Butler, Bucks wing Khris Middleton, Heat big Bam Adebayo, Hawks guard Trae Young or Bucks guard Jrue Holiday? Ethan Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports Network: “For those who were sort of questioning why Jimmy wasn’t named to the All-Star team when Durant went out and it was Sabonis, I can tell you that the NBA wanted to name him to the All-Star team.” “You know basically what he made known to the NBA?” “He wasn’t going unless Bam was going.”

“I was happy for some of the first time All-Stars in Zach LaVine, Julius Randle,” Shaw said. “He was a player that I coached in L.A. He has gotten better and better every year. I thought that maybe Damian Lillard should have gotten a starting nod. (I’m also happy for) Jaylen Brown, a guy that played at Cal, who I’m familiar with in the Bay area. For him to get an All-Star nod, I thought that maybe he should have gotten one last year.”

Vucevic, now 30 years old, says he gained added confidence when Clifford became the Magic’s head coach. Right out of the gate, Clifford would tell him how talented he is and what he’s capable of accomplishing if he has the right mindset and approach. “He’s been huge in the steps I’ve been able to take in the last two-and-a-half seasons he’s been here,’ Vucevic said of Clifford’s role in his maturation. “Mainly the thing that he’s been able to help me with is my approach to the game, my mentality, my confidence. It’s something that as soon as he came here, the first time we met, the things he told me was ‘you’re one of the best big men in the NBA, you can be a multiple-time All-Star, there’s so much room for you to grow.’”

Assessing total career value is one way to answer the question of the best non-All-Star, but it’s not the only method. A “compiler” with a bunch of decent but unspectacular seasons can put together an impressive career without ever making a strong All-Star case in any one season. So we can also look at the list of non-All-Stars with the best peaks, defined for these purposes as their best five seasons. Using this peak method, Conley moves into third place on the list—and will probably jump up to second by the time this season finishes, as he’s on pace for one of the best campaigns of his career.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: 'Khris Middleton is an All-Star'

“To me, Khris is an All-Star. All-Star player. Not to disrespect any of the other players that made the team, they’re all having great, great seasons, but Khris is an All-Star. Bottom line, he’s an All-Star.” Unsurprisingly, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer felt the same way. “We feel like Khris is an All-Star,” Budenholzer said postgame. “We feel like he deserves it. The numbers and everything, his efficiency and what he does in a game on both ends of the court is very special.

Eventually, Zach LaVine, the star of the Chicago Bulls, was selected for the All-Star Game. The 25-year-old was asked what message he would tell his 19-year-old self. His response focused on the hard and its fruits. “Hard work doesn’t fail. It really doesn’t,” LaVine said. “Just keep your head down and keep grinding, regardless of the result or recognition or the outside perception. That’s not what you do it for. You do it for your family and you do it for yourself and that’s what I still do. I could care less what the perception and what people say about me. I hear it all but at the end of the day, I love basketball. I’d do this if I got paid zero dollars. I put in so much work for me and my family. I would do this till I die.”

Falling below .500 is as bad as it gets. Nobody is taking shots in the press yet or arguing on the floor. As bad as Tatum, Brown or Walker may be shooting on a given night, none of them have cut the brakes. “I don’t feel very much like an All-Star because we’re below .500 and I’ve got to do a better job of inspiring my teammates and getting guys going and learning and growing,” Brown said. “It’s not all about just scoring the ball. I’ve realized that. It’s about getting teammates involved and things like that. I’m learning and I’m growing in that process.”

“He’s playing with tremendous confidence,” Derrick Rose said. “His confidence is very high. Great leader for the team. Me just watching everything up close. He added the trey ball to his game, so he’s even more effective. He’s just balling right now. With the first group and whenever he’s in the second group, we’re trying to play through him and find him because he’s demanding the double team and that’s what we need from him. He makes the game a lot easier.”

Chris Paul upset by Devin Booker's All-Star snub

While Booker was left out, Paul made it for the 11th time in his 16-year NBA career as he’s averaging 16.6 points and 8.5 assists in his first season in Phoenix. “Probably the most bittersweet of them all cause Book is an all-star,” said Chris Paul on TNT’s Inside The NBA postgame show Tuesday night. “It’s not taking away from any of the guys that were named all-stars, but our team, the Phoenix Suns, we go as Booker goes and we know that and he knows that.”

“You saw a lot of guys make it for the first time, you saw a lot of guys that I’ve seen there over the years. It was disappointing not to see Devin Booker on there,.” said Lillard, had to sit out last year’s game due to injury and was replaced by Suns guard. “They’ve had a great season, obviously they blew us out last night, but they’ve been an up and down team over the years and this year they’ve taken off with Chris Paul. Obviously Chris Paul is who he is but I definitely think Devin Booker should have had a spot on that roster. To me, that’s out of control. Come on, that’s crazy.”

Durant and Irving had been selected as starters, and Harden will head to Atlanta as a reserve, having just been edged out by Irving in the voting among Eastern Conference guards. But considering Harden’s stellar play since joining the Nets, he’s closer to being an MVP contender than he was to being an All-Star snub. “James, I mean, clearly an All-Star, all-world player has brought so much to our team: leadership, playmaking and scoring the ball,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said before Tuesday night’s official announcement on TNT. “He’s been outstanding. We’re grateful to have him.”

That means players who were not starting for their respective teams were more likely to be voted as All-Star starters by their fellow peers than by fan voters. Just in this year’s voting results, we can cite various eyebrow-raising examples of players not taking their vote seriously whatsoever. How about Los Angeles Lakers swingman Kostas Antetokounmpo playing eight minutes all year and getting 10 votes from players to be an All-Star? That’s the same number John Wall got and one more than Bojan Bogdanovic, double-digit scorer for the best team in the league this year.

“I think we should have five All-Stars,” Conley said. “I think this year, honestly, I’m playing the best basketball of my entire career. Being 33 years old, I’ve never had the opportunity to play in the game. I’ve had the door shut so many times. But, it’s been so much fun being a part of a team like this that is so unique. We play so unselfishly, and we have a defensive mindset and a physical mentality. “To do that, you have to have nine or 10 guys that all make plays for each other and are all unselfish. It’s funny because we have been so versatile this season that I have struggled to figure out how to scout us. I never had to think about that for one of my teams.”

With Bradley Beal being named a starter, the player under consideration for a spot this most applies to is Zach LaVine. I’ll admit to not having a clue what to make of the seventh-year gunner. And neither do different types of impact metrics. Only two players have a larger gap between their EPM rating (which takes into account box score contributions when inferring credit for team success or failure) and RAPM. Coincidentally, Beal has the fourth-largest difference. Just over a quarter of the way into a season, this sort of difference might be as much statistical noise as capturing anything real. But at the same time, LaVine (as well as Beal) has consistently appeared to be a substantially negative defender, to the point where he might give back on defense most of what his dynamic shot creation and superb shotmaking bring to a team’s offense. That said, this is LaVine’s first season as a first option where his shotmaking has outstripped his shot quality:

The numbers argument – always inherently flawed – will be used to shut down any discussion on the topic to show Sabonis deserves a second consecutive trip to the all-star game. Coach Nate Bjorkgren went to that immediately when asked after Monday’s practice. “His stats speak for themselves,” he said. “He deserves to be an All-Star. He’s got my 1,000% backing on it. He continues to play great team basketball, and he’ll get rewarded for that.”

Billy Donovan left little doubt on the subject. “Zach LaVine is deserving of being an All-Star,” the Bulls coach said late Saturday. Donovan declared this following yet another LaVine masterpiece, a 38-point demonstration of efficiency that featured 15-for-20 shooting and led the Bulls to a 122-114 victory over the Kings at the United Center. “When you look at players that are All-Stars, you are saying they are playing at a high level individually and they are also raising the level of the team,” Donovan said. “I think Zach has done that.”

“It’s growing,” LaVine said of his relationship with Donovan. “I’m open with him, and I told him to be open with me. We’ve had ongoing dialogue. We text. We have phone calls. We have meetings. It’s been good. He wants the best out of you and he challenges you. I like that. I think I respond well to that. I appreciate him and I support him.” The feeling is mutual. “I attribute it to him,” Donovan said. “Ever since I came here, everything he’s wanted to do has been about winning… And I think he wants to be told what are the things that’s he’s got to do to take himself to a different level because he hasn’t won.
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