Kobe Bryant as a Western Conference All-Star starter despite his struggles this season.SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It wasn’t a surprise that NBA fans voted retiring superstar
The oddity is that if Bryant were listed at guard, the position he played for the majority of his career, instead of in the frontcourt, Zaza Pachulia of the Dallas Mavericks would have been voted a West starter.
That’s one of the reasons Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who scored a career-high 56 points Monday in a 129-128 double-overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets, told Yahoo Sports recently that the All-Star starter balloting system should be changed for the All-Star Game on Feb.14.
As it stands now, fans are asked to vote for three frontcourt players (regardless of position) and two guards per conference as starters.
“It’s disrespectful to big men,” Cousins told Yahoo Sports. “It’s not really fair. But that’s how it is.”
Cousins was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday and has averaged 27.6 points and 11.4 rebounds this season. When asked what changes he would make to All-Star voting, Cousins was quick to respond.
“There definitely wouldn’t be fan voting,” Cousins told Yahoo. “You can’t base it off of who is on TNT and ESPN every night. Of course, it’s going to be most winning teams’ [players], the most popular players [selected]. The other guys that play for the Milwaukee Bucks, and in our case the Sacramento Kings, who are playing just as good basketball, will never be seen. I don’t think it’s fair.”
Cousins has a strong chance Thursday of being named one of the seven West All-Star reserves, chosen by the conference’s head coaches. But it may not be a slam dunk.
“If it were all about talent, he’d be the first big man picked,” a Western conference head coach told Yahoo Sports. “The only question is: Will enough people look past his reputation to give him a chance?”
The deadline for coaches to vote for All-Star reserves is Tuesday, and they must select two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild cards.
The Kings are 20-24, but have won five of six games and are 19-16 with Cousins.
“My play speaks for itself,” Cousins told Yahoo. “If it was about play, I don’t think there would be a question. There are a lot of politics involved. Popularity has a lot to do with it. … There is a lot of stuff out of my control. That’s just the card I am dealt.
“I’m comfortable with the coaches picking and I believe they will make the right choice. They are more aware and more knowledgeable of who is an All-Star in this game.”
Here are Yahoo Sports’ projected All-Star reserves and the bubble candidates. Keep in mind it is not uncommon for as many as four players to be selected as All-Star replacements because of injury.
Projected East bubble
Pau Gasol, Chicago, frontcourt; Al Horford, Atlanta, frontcourt; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland, guard; Reggie Jackson, Detroit, guard; Brook Lopez, Brooklyn, frontcourt; Kevin Love, Cleveland, frontcourt; Kemba Walker, Charlotte, guard; Nikola Vucevic, Orlando, frontcourt; Hassan Whiteside, Miami, frontcourt.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, guard
The only shooter in the NBA better than Thompson is his teammate, Stephen Curry. Thompson also is averaging more than 20 points per game the past two months.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans, frontcourt
The Pelicans are one of the league’s most disappointing teams, but Davis is still viewed as one of the top overall players in the NBA.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors, frontcourt
Green is the heart and soul of the NBA champs, has improved his game and leads the league in triple-doubles.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, wild card
The Rockets are the most disappointing team in the West, but Harden gets the nod as the NBA’s second-leading scorer.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs, wild card
Aldridge snags the last spot over Portland guard Damian Lillard because of the Spurs’ record and his willingness to sacrifice for the team.
Projected West bubble
Danilo Gallinari, Denver, frontcourt; Marc Gasol, Memphis, frontcourt; Andre Iguodala, Golden State, frontcourt; DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers, frontcourt; Damian Lillard, Portland, guard; Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas, frontcourt; Rajon Rondo, Sacramento, guard.