The NBA revealed the 14 All-Star reserves on Thursday, officially filling out the remainder of the roster for the All-Star Game on Feb. 20 in Cleveland.
Fans and players contributed to the starter vote, which explains why Golden State Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins is one of the most underwhelming and surprising starters in All-Star history. Coaches picked the reserves, and one would hope those closest to the games made reasonable choices. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Freshly signed TNT correspondent Draymond Green heard his name called on the telecast. Green always had a strong chance of getting in because of his reputation around the NBA and his two-way value to the Dubs. But he’s played just 34 games and has taken the floor in nearly three weeks because of a back injury.
Green’s selection reflects the notion that deserving players sometimes just get unlucky. Let’s look at the three biggest snubs after the full roster reveal.
3. C Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Eastern Conference All-Star reserves probably left plenty of fans bewildered, including Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Yes, Cavs point guard Darius Garland made the roster, and deservedly so. But Jarrett Allen can only call himself an All-Star snub.
Allen has been one of the best two-way bigs in basketball this season, a legitimate anchor for a Cleveland team that ranks third in defensive rating. He is averaging 16.0 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.
The San Diego native ranks 19th in value over replacement player (VORP) and 16th in player efficiency rating (PER). Moreover, Allen ranks fifth in win shares and eighth in win shares per 48 minutes. Those metrics are partially dependent on team success, but it still speaks to the 23-year-old’s role as a winning player on one of the best teams in the East.
Cleveland’s humongous frontcourt of Allen and Evan Mobley, paired with Garland’s playmaking, has reenergized a previously dormant franchise. Allen probably should have gotten All-Star recognition for his efforts.
2. G Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray should be in the NBA All-Star Game. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Unfortunately, Murray plays on a small-market San Antonio Spurs team that has won just 19 games, hence why he failed to crack the top 10 vote-getters after the first batch of fan voting. Additionally, he’s in a conference loaded with elite guards.
Team struggles simply do not justify keeping Murray out of the festivities. He’s become the fully-fledged star the Spurs always envisioned.
The 25-year-old is averaging 19.6 points, 9.1 assists, and 8.5 rebounds. Murray leads the NBA at 2.0 steals per game and, according to NBA.com, also ranks first in deflections per game. The two-way excellence results in the Spurs point guard ranking 16th in box plus-minus.
The counting numbers are terrific. However, Murray’s VORP is most telling when it comes to his credentials.
Murray ranks fifth among Western Conference guards in VORP. Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Luka Doncic, and Ja Morant are the only guys above him. That’s elite company.
Murray can still serve as Green’s injury replacement. For now, he’s the most notable All-Star snub in the Western Conference.
1. F/C Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Like Murray, Indiana Pacers big Domantas Sabonis is another player who owes his All-Star snub primarily to a lack of team success. But again, it’s unfair to pin that on Sabonis.
Green said on the telecast that the Pacers (19-34) are “terrible” and, because of that fact, Sabonis had “no shot” of making the All-Star Game as a reserve.
OK, well, despite playing for a “terrible” Pacer team, Sabonis still ranks seventh in the NBA in win shares. He’s averaging 19.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists on 65% true shooting, which also ranks seventh in the league.
Sabonis is 14th in both box plus-minus and PER. He ranks 12th in VORP. The only Eastern Conference bigs ahead of him in that category are Joel Embiid Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. How is he not headed to the All-Star Game?
These next couple of weeks will undoubtedly prove tough for Sabonis. He could well find himself on a new team before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline, and also has to grapple with being the top All-Star snub.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.