To the victor goes the spoils.
That’s especially true when it comes to the NBA All-Star Game. Throughout the years, NBA coaches have constantly contended that players on winning teams should be rewarded for their contributions.
But that thinking will be severely tested when Eastern Conference coaches are asked to select the seven reserves for the 2013 All-Star Game in Houston Feb 17.
Specifically, the coaches will have to decide whether guards Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers should be All-Stars.
Irving, despite just being in his second NBA season, is already regarded as one of the elite point guards in the league. His numbers bear out his exceptional skills: He is averaging 23 points, 5.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds a game while shooting 46 percent from the field, 41 percent from 3-point range and 83 percent the line.
Yet, Irving’s Cavs are horrible. They have won just 10 games. Only Charlotte with nine and Washington with seven have fewer wins in the NBA than the Cavs.
Holiday, like Irving, has an impressive resume: 18.7 points, 8.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 45 percent field-goal shooting. And, like Irving, Holiday plays on a bad team. The 76ers are 16-23.
So, should Irving and Holiday be chosen for the All-Star Game over, say, either one of the Milwaukee Bucks’ guards: Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis?
Both have All-Star worthy numbers as well: Ellis is averaging 18.8 points and 5.4 assists and Jennings is averaging 18.5 points and 5.9 assists.
Furthermore, Jennings has twice been chosen Eastern Conference Player of the Week and Ellis has been selected once. And they, unlike Holiday and Irving, play for a winner; the Bucks are 20-18.
Yet, in an informal poll of seven NBA officials — two general managers, an assistant general manager, two advance scouts and two players — Irving and Holiday received more votes than either Jennings or Ellis.
Irving and Holiday were two of four guards chosen in the poll for the Eastern Conference team. The others were Boston’s Rajon Rondo and Miami’s Dwyane Wade, who were chosen as starters in fan voting.
Joining the four backcourt players on the Eastern team were eight frontcourt players, including Miami’s LeBron James and New York’s Carmelo Anthony, who were also voted as starters by the fans.
The other six frontcourt players, as chosen by NBA officials in the poll, were Miami’s Chris Bosh, New York’s Tyson Chandler, Boston’s Paul Pierce, Chicago’s Joakim Noah, Atlanta’s Josh Smith and Indiana’s Paul George. All are on winning teams.
George’s selection may surprise some — he is averaging 16.9 points, 3.7 assists and 7.6 rebounds — but Indiana does have the third-best record in the East. According to those polled, George is the primary reason for the Pacers’ success.
Besides Jennings and Ellis, others who drew serious consideration from those polled were Indiana power forward David West, Chicago small forward Luol Deng and New Jersey guard Joe Johnson.
Interestingly, power forward Kevin Garnett, who was voted to start by the fans, didn’t receive a single vote in the poll. Ditto for New Jersey point guard Deron Williams, a three-time All-Star selection who was a member of last summer’s US-Olympic gold-medal winning team.
NBA coaches are expected to fill out the rosters later next week.