Another year, another All-Star voting process that centers more on a player’s name and fame than it does on a player’s statistics and performance.
By all advanced statistics of the 2013-14 NBA season, Ty Lawson should at least be in the Top 5 for the Western Conference Backcourt All-Star Balloting. With injuries to the “superstar” guards Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant, one would figure that this would be the year that Lawson could snag a spot in the All-Star game. Despite his All-Star worthy numbers, Lawson isn’t even in the Top 10 of All-Star Balloting after the most recent voting returns were reported on Jan. 9 on NBA.com.
I understand why players like Kobe Bryant, even if he’s injured or simply not playing well, will always get selected before a player like Ty Lawson. Even though he only played in 6 games this year while averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and a career-low player efficiency rating of 11.53, he’s still Kobe Bryant. There are a few too many rings on his fingers for Kobe to ever realistically be in danger of missing an All-Star Game. And I can come to terms with the fact that Lawson likely won’t ever be chosen before players like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Steph Curry. Truthfully, Lawson’s stats, although close, don’t quite match up to the numbers Westbrook, Paul, and Curry are putting up this season.
Yet, except for the sharpshooting Curry, all of the players above will probably miss the All-Star Game due to injury. This, if All-Star voting followed a performance-based rationale, should clear the way for Lawson to make his first All-Star Game appearance.
With this in mind, I struggle to come to terms with the fact that players like Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio, who are both struggling during the first half of the season, are being voted in above Lawson. Players like Klay Thompson and Tony Parker, although very good, have simply not been as effective and impressive as Lawson has been this season. Yet, for one reason or another, they are also ahead of Lawson in All-Star voting. I have to admit, however, that Damian Lillard, who came in 8th in the latest voting returns, has put up numbers that rival Lawson’s.
Let’s take a look at each of these player’s average per-game statistics so far this season:
Ty Lawson: 17.8 points, 8.6 assists, 1.45 steals, 3.6 rebounds, 20.36 PER
Jeremy Lin: 14.1 points, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.6 rebounds, 15.81 PER
Ricky Rubio: 8.8 points, 8.3 assists, 2.74 steals, 4.7 rebounds, 15.20 PER
Klay Thompson: 19.3 points, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals, 3.3 rebounds, 14.61 PER
Tony Parker: 17.7 points, 6.2 assists, 0.52 steals, 2.5 rebounds, 19.82 PER
Damian Lillard: 21.6 points, 5.7 assists, 0.75 steals, 3.7 rebounds, 20.14 PER
These numbers should speak for themselves. With the exception of Damian Lillard, who is arguably on par with Lawson this year, Lawson’s statistics show that he has performed well enough to earn a spot in the All-Star Game before the players mentioned directly above. Especially in an All-Star Game missing so much of its backcourt superstar-power.
If we’re basing the All-Star Game roster on performance, the injury-depleted Western Conference backcourt should look something like this:
Starting Guards: Steph Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston).
Reserve Guards: Ty Lawson (Denver), Damian Lillard (Portland).
So, Denver Nuggets fans, be sure to take a minute to vote Ty Lawson into the All-Star Game on Feb. 16 before All-Star Balloting ends on Jan. 20. While it seems like a bit of a long shot at this point, it certainly won’t hurt and, as Nuggets fans, we all know how much Lawson deserves a spot this year.