Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson made a fun video to promote his All-Star candidacy, but it wasn't enough to sway Eastern Conference coaches. Stephenson was left off the East's All-Star team when the reserves were announced on Thursday.
Stephenson's teammate, Pacers center Roy Hibbert was named an East reserve, along with Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh, Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, Washington Wizards guard John Wall, Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan. The five East starters, selected by a fan vote, were already named: Heat teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Pacers forward Paul George, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving.
Stephenson is averaging a well-rounded 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists while leading the NBA with three triple-doubles. He also plays on a Pacers team with the East's top record and plenty of scorers. With two of his teammates going to the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans, Stephenson was squeezed out. The Heat have three All-Stars, and Johnson made the team despite the Nets owning a losing record.
"The coaches don't know what they're doing," TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley said. "There is no reason Lance Stephenson can't be an All-Star."
This year's snubs weren't as notable in the East because lengthy injuries knocked out three likely All-Stars in Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford and caused them to miss most of the season.
The Western Conference reserves were Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Houston Rockets guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki. The fans voted Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love and Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin as the West starters. Bryant will miss the game because of his knee injury.
In addition to Stephenson, a handful of other players had reason to feel snubbed.
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry: He's averaging 16.8 points and 7.6 assists, and the Raptors surprisingly lead the Atlantic Division with a 24-21 record – third-best in the East. DeRozan making it might have hurt Lowry's chances. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the closest vote among East coaches was Johnson beating out Lowry.
Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague: The Hawks are fourth in the East at 23-21, and Teague is a big reason why. He's averaging 16.2 points and 7.3 assists.
Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson: If the playoffs started today, the Bobcats would be the East's No. 8 seed. That speaks a lot to the weakness of the conference, but the Bobcats (20-27) have still played better than expected. Jefferson is averaging 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds. He has started to look stronger after being bothered by an injured right ankle that sidelined him for nine games early in the season.
Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo: Afflalo is averaging career highs in points (20) and rebounds (4.3), but it's hard to make a strong case for the Magic to have a representative in New Orleans given that they have the NBA's second-worst record at 12-35.
Golden State Warriors forward David Lee: Lee, a two-time All-Star, was averaging 19 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Warriors entering Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Golden State was in seventh place in the West entering Thursday and already had one All-Star in Curry. Lee – or someone else on this West list – still has a shot to play in New Orleans because the injured Bryant will be replaced on the roster.
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring with an average of 22.6 points per game and sixth in rebounding at 11.6. Those sound like All-Star-worthy numbers. What didn't help Cousins: The Kings are 15-30, worst in the West.
New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis: Like Cousins, Davis has put up impressive stats this season, averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and a league-leading 3.3 blocks. Like Cousins, his team's record likely hurt his chances to represent New Orleans in its home arena: The Pelicans are 19-26.
Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic: Dragic is averaging 19.7 points and 6.1 assists for the Suns, who might be the NBA's biggest surprise. Phoenix was expected to contend for the league's worst record and is instead 27-18. Dragic's play has helped keep the Suns in the playoff hunt even after they lost guard Eric Bledsoe to a knee injury.
Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis: He's averaging a steady 19.4 points and 5.9 assists for the Mavericks, who entered Thursday in eighth place in the West. The Mavs have one All-Star in Nowitzki.
San Antonio Spurs forward/center Tim Duncan: The Spurs are tied for the West's second-best record, but have struggled against the league's elite teams. Duncan is a 14-time All-Star, but he doesn't figure to make it 15 this season. He's averaging 14.8 points, the second-fewest of his career, and 9.9 rebounds.