Sports Take: NBA All-Star voting process needs to change

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

The NBA needs to change the voting process for selecting players for the All-Star team. Every year there are players selected who are less deserving than those who weren’t.

The 2022 NBA All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday night. For the Western conference, Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James was voted as captain. Joining James is Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry and forward Andrew Wiggins, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

The captain of the Eastern conference is Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, while Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Chicago Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young were also selected.

This year has no shortage of questionable voting results from the fans. If Wiggins played for almost any other team, he most likely wouldn’t be an All-Star starter. However, because he plays for one of the most popular franchises of the past decade in the Warriors, alongside one of the biggest stars in the game in Curry, Wiggins is now starting in his first All-Star appearance. Wiggins didn’t deserve the nod over Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, who has been carrying his team on 24.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. Even without superstar teammate forward Kawhi Leonard, Paul still managed to keep the Clippers in the playoff picture before going down with an injury last month.

Another eyebrow raiser was players like Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Nets guard Kyrie Irving both being surprisingly close to being voted starters, despite the two of them having each played less than 10 games this season.

In the last voting update, Thompson had the fourth most votes among Western Conference guards. If he had had a crazy performance since his return, he probably would’ve surged in votes and pushed into a starting spot. Thompson was already ahead of guards such as Phoenix Suns Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The Suns currently have the best record in the league and Booker is averaging 25 points per game, while Paul is averaging 14.5 points per game and 10.1 assists per game. Why should Thompson, who is still on limited minutes and has only played seven games this season, be closer to starting than Booker and Paul who are leading one of the best teams in the league game in and game out?

Irving was also very close to being named a starter, even placing above Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland who has helped turn around the Cavaliers in a big way this season. Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony and guard Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be as high as they were on their respective lists either. They, like many others, are mainly getting votes because of their name, and the city and team they play for.

As of right now, All-Star starters selection is decided 50% by the fans, 25% by players and 25% by the media. This voting split started a few years ago when center Zaza Pachulia was almost named a starter after a wave of fans from his country, Republic of Georgia, decided to vote for him. He was barely beaten out by Leonard, a player that is obviously better than Pachulia. In recent years fan-favorite players such as Bulls guard Alex Curuso and Cavaliers center Tacko Fall have almost gotten All-Star selections despite not being All-Star caliber players.

The snubs and fan favorite votes are beginning to dilute the accomplishment that being selected as an All-Star starter is. When we speak about past players, we often speak about their number of selections. Kobe Bryant had 18, LeBron James just earned his 18th. However, selections are starting to feel less earned. I understand it is a game for entertainment, but snubbing more deserving players for fan favorites is making the accomplishment more of an entertainment based achievement rather than a performance based honor.

I believe the league should implement eligibility rules, where players can only be All-Star eligible if they meet certain performance requirements. Something along the lines of having to play X amount of games by All-Star weekend, along with a certain number of points, rebounds or assists being averaged. It would ensure that everyone being selected is an All-Star-level player and not just a fan favorite.

The fans having a say in who gets selected is a great thing and very cool, but the fans tend to get out of hand and have too much say. Based on the direction it has gone, if you’re a fan favorite playing for a big city or “super team” then you’re almost a lock for an All-Star appearance. This needs to be fixed to make sure the starters and teams are being chosen correctly, and every player being selected is actually deserving.