All-Star snubs: Tobias Harris, Luka Doncic should prompt NBA to scrap East-West selection format

Tobias Harris looks every bit an All-Star.

The Los Angeles Clippers forward is having a breakout season, averaging 21.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from 3-point distance.

He’s leading a 28-23 Clippers team that was expected to be in full rebuild mode after the breakup of its core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but may end up in the playoffs instead.

Harris misses out on 1st All-Star nod

But unless he’s selected as an injury replacement, he won’t be suiting up in Charlotte next month as an All-Star.

And that should have the NBA thinking about a final tweak to its already revamped All-Star format.

The All-Star game is no longer a matchup of the Eastern Conference vs. the Western Conference. So why is the league still choosing its All-Stars like it was?

The All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday with seven players from each conference joining the starters announced last week.

A deserving All-Star, Tobias Harris missed out on his first bid this season. (Getty)
A deserving All-Star, Tobias Harris missed out on his first bid this season. (Getty)

Stacked West kept Harris out

As usual, the representation from the West is stacked. Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns will join a deserving group of Western Conference starters.

Which begs the question that comes with any “snubs” conversation. Who would get cut to make room for Harris? There’s no easy answer there.

Aldridge is the closest candidate, but the six-time All-Star is having one of his best seasons while putting up similar stats to Harris, averaging 21.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while leading a playoff contender.

Everyone in the pool is deserving.

East pool not as deep

While a look out East shows another job well done by the coaches selecting the reserves, the pool’s not quite as deep as the one from the West.

Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, Khris Middleton and Nikola Vucevic made the cut.

All are outstanding players, but Harris is clearly more deserving than Lowry.

The case for Harris over Lowry

Lowry is scoring at his lowest rate in six years, averaging 14.2 points with 9.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds. His 41 percent field goal rate and 32.2 percent 3-point rate are not All-Star worthy.

With Oladipo out, another player from the East will be selected to take his place. Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler are the most likely candidates.

Again, they’re both outstanding players. But Harris deserves an All-Star nod over both of them.

Fans wanted Luka Doncic to start in the All-Star game. He didn’t even make the roster. (Getty)
Fans wanted Luka Doncic to start in the All-Star game. He didn’t even make the roster. (Getty)

What about Luka?

Fans would argue that Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic is an even bigger snub than Harris. Had they had their way, Doncic – averaging 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game – would have been a starter.

They also would have selected Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, which limits the credibility of their case.

And Doncic shouldn’t be a starter. But fans have an absolutely reasonable argument that he deserves an All-Star nod.

NBA needs to ditch conference selection format

Overall, the NBA did a good job. The All-Star starters are deserving. For the most part, the best players in the NBA this season will play in the All-Star game.

The Utah Jazz and their fans are feeling pain with both Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell missing the cut. Coach Quin Snyder told ESPN that Gobert “should absolutely be an All-Star,” citing his impact on the defensive side of the ball. Snyder did not name the Western Conference player Gobert should replace.

But Harris missing out on his first All-Star bid is a shame. If the NBA chose to select the best 24 players in the league rather than designate player pools by conference, he likely wouldn’t be watching from the stands or the couch.

The league has already shown progressive thinking by having fan-voted captains choose the final All-Star rosters. Now the NBA should allow them to choose from the best pool of players possible.

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