COMMENTARY | You do not have to be clairvoyant to have predicted that Joakim Noah would not start in the 2013 NBA All-Star game. Once the decision was made to remove the center position from ballots, Noah had almost no chance to be voted in by the fans-- no matter how spectacular his performance. What fan voting ultimately boils down to is a popularity contest, and the center position is no longer very popular. So, if fans do not have to vote for a center, most will not. Here is the quandary into which Noah has been unfairly thrust.
Noah is unquestionably playing like an All-Star this season. He is averaging 12.4 points, 4.1 assists and 2 blocks per game, all career highs. He is also averaging almost 11 rebounds and leads all centers in minutes. In the absence of former MVP Derrick Rose, Noah has put up these numbers and led the Chicago Bulls to a 22-15 record. This is good for second in the Central Division and only half a game behind the first-place Indiana Pacers. He has more than made his case. Yet, if the coaches do not vote Noah into the game he will be on the outside looking in.
Who should Noah have replaced in the All-Star starting five? Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett were voted in under the new "front-court" player designation, which lumps forwards and centers together on the ballot. While we all love us some KG, he is not having an All-Star season. Averaging 14.6 points and 7 rebounds per game, he is having a good season, but not one of All-Star caliber. And the Boston Celtics have severely underachieved. Thus, Garnett would be the logical choice of the aforementioned three as to whom Noah should have been placed on the team ahead of.
Now, some would argue the fact that Dwight Howard still made the team in spite of the voting change. To explain this, see the "popularity contest" mentioned above. Howard is more well-liked than Noah. He also plays with more flash and brings greater entertainment value than Noah's "blue-collar" playing style.
Point is, if the center position were still on the ballot, Noah would be deservedly starting his first All-Star game as the best center in the Eastern Conference this coming February. Removal of his position by the NBA has done him a great disservice. The league got it wrong, the fans got it wrong. We can only hope that next week, the coaches get it right.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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