It’s an exhibition game that is rarely any fun to watch – the last competitive and interesting NBA All-Star Game, played in 2001, was played by one of the worst winning All-Star rosters in history – but that doesn’t stop NBA teams from endlessly promoting and talking up their potential All-Stars to an annoying degree. Even though many of these squads are on the hook for All-Star bonuses should their players make the team, and even though flying down to a chosen city to party and hen play over the All-Star “break” would seem to act as a disruptive force in the middle of a season that can stretch to over 100 games, franchises still shout and squeal for their players to make either the starting lineup, or coach-chosen bench retinue.
That’s gone into overdrive during the Twitter era, which is exactly what the NBA wants. Fans are allowed to vote on a 140 character or less ballot via hashtag, which is a noble gesture toward those who can’t be bothered to pull up NBA.com on their browser, and all manner of verified NBA team Twitter accounts spent a goodly chunk of December and January imploring fans to vote for their various starting lineup candidates as the voting cutoff deadline grew nearer.
Once that deadline hit, the imploring stopped. And once the starters were revealed on Thursday, no team took to Twitter to complain. Because that would be a bit gauche.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, however, didn’t seem to mind coming off that way. Scope out his reaction to Rockets center Dwight Howard being left off the NBA’s new center-less ballot:
NBA all star voting process set up well for Iowa high school girls basketball. Offense only & only guards and forwards.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) January 24, 2014
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) January 24, 2014
For those that are unaware of the new ballot format, understand that the NBA isn’t precluding centers from starting in the game. Rather, they’re just asking fans to vote for the best three frontcourt players available.
This may not be a good fix for this season, with Roy Hibbert acting as an MVP candidate (to these eyes, at least), and Dwight Howard playing fantastic basketball; but in many other recent years, it would have served as a necessary maneuver. The game has evolved away from relying on traditional low post players, and on top of that the litany of season and career-ending injuries to 7-foot pivotmen has thinned the ranks. Sadly.
Dwight Howard is not 7-feet tall, and though he struggled last year while recovering from back surgery, thankfully he has been mostly injury-free throughout his career. While his box score statistics are nearly the same in 2013-14 as they were last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he is noticeably more impactful on both ends (even if the Houston defensive output is more or less the same as it was last season) and rightfully deserving of a nod as the best center in the West.
One of the best five players? That’s debatable. The Western Conference is that damn good, and its starting lineup doesn’t even include LaMarcus Aldridge, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, or Anthony Davis. Of course, the defensive impact of each of those players – and we’re including Davis, here, despite his three blocks per game – is rather slim.
That’s where Howard, despite his team’s mediocre defensive rating overall, would seem to surpass them.
Enough to surpass Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup? Sure, the dude’s played six games.
Enough to surpass Kevin Love? Kevin Durant? Stephen Curry? Perhaps not. Blake Griffin? Possibly.
Worth complaining about? Possibly not.
Daryl Morey spent years gathering assets, taking chances, rolling with the risks and planning a coup that netted him two franchise players in James Harden and Dwight Howard. Years worth of planning resulted in two dead set All-Stars heading to Houston in just an eight and a half month stretch. Our man is committed, and he put in the hours.
No shame in whining on Twitter about things, I suppose. We’d rather he didn’t, though.
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