Russell Westbrook — who is currently averaging a triple-double, who is also leading the league in scoring, and who has been named All-Star Game MVP twice in his career — won’t be an Western Conference All-Star starter in New Orleans next month. Westbrook not only missed out on the starting nod, but he missed out because of the fan vote.
The NBA unveiled a brand-new voting format for the All-Star game this year, one where the fan vote was only weighted at 50 percent. Under the changes, media received 25 percent of the vote while players received the other 25 percent. Under this format, 324 players participated in voting for the starters this season.
Westbrook will make the team as a reserve, without question. Ultimately, people don’t look back at All-Star appearances and ask, “Wait, but how many times was he named a starter?” Westbrook certainly deserved a starting spot, but the slight won’t impact his Hall of Fame metrics or anything like that. Still, it’s worth looking into how this happened, and why it was the fan vote that screwed this all up.
What does the Western Conference voting look like?
Westbrook, Stephen Curry, and James Harden finished top three in all three voting groups.
Curry finished with 1,848,121 fan votes, while Harden had 1,771,375, and Westbrook ended up with 1,575,865. It’s worth noting that Westbrook had the fourth-highest fan voting total in the West — only Kevin Durant’s number topped him in raw voting from among the West front court players.
Those finishes meant that those three guards actually ended up tied, each one with a 2.0 aggregate score.
Why did Curry and Harden end up with the tiebreakers?
While the media and player voting helped make sure someone like Zaza Pachulia didn’t make the roster (which, as fun as it would have been, is the correct call), the fan voting still worked as the tiebreaker. With Westbrook, Curry, and Harden tied, the top-two players who received the most fan votes ended up as the starters.
If it had just been players and media, Westbrook would have been the top selection and Harden the second. But the fans didn’t let that happen.
Is Curry undeserving of a starting nod?
No. Curry’s a perfectly fine All-Star starter, with back-to-back MVPs and great numbers once again this year, even if they’re down from last season. The problem isn’t his play, but that Westbrook is just more deserving of the recognition. He’s on the verge of being the second player ever to average a triple-double, and he’s the only player averaging more than 30 points this season. As great as Curry is, he can’t approach those numbers this season.
Still, how excited are we for the All-Star game?
Westbrook admitted he and Durant weren’t on speaking terms after Wednesday’s game against Golden State. I cannot wait until they’re both on the floor together and Westbrook refuses to even look Durant’s direction, much less pass him the ball.
Hell, he might ice out every single Warrior on the roster. Whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing.