NBA Fact or Fiction: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Davis and the biggest All-Star snubs

Each week during the 2021-22 NBA season, we will take a deeper dive into some of the league’s biggest storylines in an attempt to determine whether the trends are based more in fact or fiction moving forward.

[ Last week's Fact or Fiction: A changing of the All-Star guard ]

LaMelo Ball is the biggest Eastern Conference All-Star snub

How you feel about NBA All-Star Game snubs depends on how you feel about the exhibition itself.

[ 2022 NBA All-Star Game: StartersReserves ]

If you're the type of person who believes the six frontcourt players, four guards and two wild-card choices who are enjoying the best seasons at their respective positions should be picked as objectively as possible, then you might also be the type of person who takes team record into consideration and/or thinks snubs are silly, because someone will always be disappointed. Someone will be snubbed from the snubs, after all.

If you're the type of person who believes in building the most entertaining exhibition game, you might also be the type of person who takes star power and style of play into account, fudges positions and disregards impact on winning, because this is all subjective anyway. You might as well pick the guys you want to see.

And if you fall into the latter category, your biggest snub has to be Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball, because who could be more fun to watch than Ball facilitating fast breaks for the best players in the league.

Ball is averaging a 20-7-8 in 32 minutes per game for the eighth-place Hornets. He warrants consideration. Objectively speaking, though, he may not be the most deserving candidate on his own team. Miles Bridges is the more efficient scorer and superior defender. In twice as many possessions, the Hornets' net rating is twice as good with Bridges on the court and Ball off it than the other way around, per Cleaning the Glass. Bridges actually earned more All-Star votes from his peers, but Ball received three times as many fan votes.

You can make a pretty clear argument Jrue Holiday has been more important to the Milwaukee Bucks' success this season than Khris Middleton, but the coaches gave their reserve spot to Middleton, who is six months removed from averaging a 24-6-5 on 45/36/89 shooting splits in the Finals. Both players are vital to Milwaukee's championship repeat chances, and your preference relies as much on gut feeling as statistics.

In Cleveland, where the Cavaliers are 1.5 games behind the Eastern Conference's top seed, Darius Garland received a reserve spot from coaches over Jarrett Allen. By individual advanced metrics, Allen has been the more impactful player. Except, the Cavaliers are operating like a 68-win team when Garland is in the lineup and Allen is not, while they are performing like a 34-win team when Allen is playing and Garland is not.

That has a lot to do with rookie sensation Evan Mobley's presence in Cleveland's frontcourt and season-ending injuries to playmakers Ricky Rubio and Collin Sexton, but it is impossible to say exactly how much.

Every All-Star pick is fairly subjective. You can argue in circles around whether the Cavs or Bucks would be demonstrably different if they swapped Garland for Holiday. Experience might be the only deciding factor. The same could be said if Cleveland traded Allen to the 13th-place Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis.

The decisions only get more subjective the further you get from the few true superstars, and those lines get awfully thin somewhere after the first All-Star reserve spot and before the last, where delineating between Holiday and Middleton or Garland and Allen is practically a coin flip. So, why not embrace the subjectivity?

I can tell you right now I would pick Donovan Mitchell for the All-Star Game over Utah Jazz running mate Rudy Gobert every time, if it had come to that in the West, because dynamic guards are more fun to watch than rim-protecting centers. There is a reason "everyone wants a Mitchell" jersey in Utah and not a Gobert.

So, yes, insofar as someone can be snubbed from an exhibition, Ball is the biggest in the East, because his absence robs us of the most. If you are being honest with yourself, you would rather see Ball in the All-Star Game than Allen. When Brooklyn Nets superstar withdraws from the game over the next week, choose fun.

Determination: Fact

Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is already one of the most exciting players in the NBA. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball is already one of the most exciting players in the NBA. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Anthony Davis is the biggest Western Conference All-Star snub

Decisions get a little more complicated when someone like Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins is elevated from a borderline All-Star to a surprise starter by the will of BamBam. You risk moving the line of demarcation between mostly objective and fairly subjective beyond the 12th roster spot in the conference.

And that is precisely what happened this season. Once Wiggins secured the fifth starting spot, the reserve choices in the West became predictable, because Wiggins would have been the bubble decision otherwise.

I'd love to see how voting broke down, because you can bet Mitchell, Gobert, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Draymond Green, Chris Paul and Karl-Anthony Towns were on the vast majority of coaches' ballots. They weren't even given the chance to decide between Wiggins or Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis, which would be an easy choice in a world where Davis did not miss a third of his season to an MCL sprain.

Green has already withdrawn his name from the All-Star Game. Had Gobert been named a starter over Wiggins, as 65% of media voters preferred, we would have two spots up for debate on the end of the West bench and not just the one made vacant by Green, which will be filled by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Silver has in years past pretty much stuck to the All-Star voting among fans, media and players when choosing replacements. If that remains the case, Davis may yet get in, especially if Silver sticks with the frontcourt. Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George is not due for an MRI until Feb. 24, so he is out.

But there is a more deserving candidate whose case you can make objectively and subjectively.

San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray is averaging 19.6 points (45/32/74), 9.1 assists, 8.5 rebounds and two steals in 34.4 minutes per game as their primary options on both end. He leads the league in steals, ranks fourth in assists and is second among guards in rebounding behind only Doncic. Murray would join Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson as the only players to average a 19-8-8 and two steals.

With all due respect to the Phoenix Suns duo of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, Memphis Grizzlies teammates Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., and New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, the only other player on the bubble decidedly more entertaining than Murray is Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (22-5-4 on 44/36/81 splits and 1.5 steals), but their numbers are not so close to call.

Murray absolutely deserves Green's spot on the West roster.

I would be all for putting Edwards in the game over Wiggins, too, but the voting speaks for itself. When you are deciding between players ranked from 20-30 in the league, nobody agrees and everyone feels slighted.

Determination: Fiction

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach