There was one big snub in the case of Thursday’s NBA All-Star starter announcement: Portland’s Damian Lillard should have been named a starter instead of Luka Doncic of Dallas. That doesn’t mean that Doncic isn’t an All-Star. He, he is. This season, he’s just not a starter.
The situation is simple.
Lillard averages 29.8 points (third in the NBA), 7.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds and shoots 45.1 percent from the field, 38.4 percent on 3-pointers and 93.3 percent on free throws, all while guiding the Trail Blazers to a record of 18-10, good for the Western Conference’s fourth position. The Blazers scored 120 points with Lillard on the floor and allowed 115.1 points per 100 possessions.
While shooting 47.5 percent from the field, 33.5 percent on 3s and 79.5 percent from the foul line, Doncic is averaging 29.1 points (fifth in the NBA), 9.4 assists and 8.6 rebounds. In triple-doubles with seven, Doncic is tied for the league-lead. Dallas scores 116.4 points and, with Doncic on the court, makes 115.1 points per 100 possessions. In the West, the Mavericks are 13-15 and in 10th place.
Lillard is having a better season for a better team.
This is not anti-Doncic, but pro-Lillard.
The fans were entitled to vote in Doncic’s favor. All-Star voting is three-pronged and weighted, with 50 percent of the votes accounted for by fan voting and 25 percent each by players and media, and ties are decided by fans.
In the West, let’s look at backcourt voting. Steph Curry, of Golden State, was No. 1 in fan, player and media voting.
It was the second place up for grabs backcourt. In fan voting, Doncic was No. 2 and in player and media voting, No. 3. In player and media voting and No. 3 in fan voting, Lillard was No. 2. The weighted score amounted to 2.5 points for each team.
Since the tiebreaker is determined by fans, Doncic got in as a starter. The Mavericks star had a fan vote of 3,335,042, about half a million more than Lillard’s 2,848,663. Often moaning that he doesn’t get enough respect for what he does, Lillard fans are a loud bunch. Following the announcement, his followers were irate on social media. They should have voted more, maybe. But it’s obvious that Doncic, too, has a loyal following, perhaps strengthened by his global appeal. As the league sees the game as an experience for the fans, the NBA gives more weight to the fan vote. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver cited fans in justifying why the league is even playing an All-Star Game this season.
“All-Star is the No. 1 fan engagement event the of entire season for the league,” Silver told TNT’s Inside the NBA crew. “It’s been a 70-year tradition.”
Once reservations are revealed on Tuesday, the coaches will do the right thing and vote for Lillard on the All-Star roster. So everything’s almost going to end well. Lillard is going to be on the roster, and he’s just not going to be a starter.
Only wait until they name the reserves. With angry players, coaches and fans, there will be some snubs there, too.