Ursa Major (aka Wilt)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Before the beginning of this current NBA season, TBCB ranked players based on a hybrid advanced statistic called the efficient winners index. In short, the EWI creates a score by multiplying an individual player's win shares and his player efficiency rating. Using this rating, TBCB evaluated the players named as All Star starters and identified those who might have been better selections.
Let's begin by noting the top 25 players based on their efficient winners index score as of the final day of All Star balloting.
First, a couple quick observations: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Chris Paul are amazing. Durant and James are no surprise, but each time I run this analysis Chris Paul appears somewhere near the top. He must be the most underrated superstar in the league. Also, Houston's signing of James Harden looks brilliant, the Spurs continue to be ageless, and David Lee has to rank near the top of any list of the most underrated NBA players. Finally, as a Mavs fan, Deron Williams at number 25 surprises me. Based on what I've seen of the Nets so far this season, I'm surprised that he's ranked so high. But based on how upset Mavericks fans were when he didn't sign with Dallas in the offseason, it seems like he should be ranked much higher. Perhaps somewhere near superstar center Tyson Chandler. Back to the All Star game...
Assuming that each team's starters should include the top three forwards/centers and the top two guards, the East team should include LeBron James, Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Deron Williams. The West should include Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Blake Griffin.
According to NBA.com, the East starters now officially include LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo, while the West includes Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Blake Griffin.
In the East, James, Anthony, and Wade were all good selections. However, Rondo and Garnett rank only 52nd and 54th in TBCB's EWI rankings. While they're both very good, it seems like they're getting All Star spots based on their reputations. Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams, ranked sixth and 25th overall in EWI would have been much better selections. The fans need to watch more games in New York and fewer games in Boston.
In the West, the fans nailed it, naming four of five starters correctly. The only outlier is Dwight Howard, currently ranked 30th in EWI, who should be replaced with Tim Duncan. Duncan ranks ninth overall after seeming to find the fountain of youth this season. In fact, all three Spurs superstars rank in the top 25 in EWI.
Yahoo!'s Eric Freeman also gives fans credit and seems to agree with TBCB;s picks. He writes:
All things considered, the fans did a pretty good job selecting deserving players for these spots. In the East, Garnett could have been replaced by Knicks center Tyson Chandler (a frontrunner to win Defensive Player of the Year) or Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (averaging 18.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg). In the West, it seems a little peculiar that the Lakers have two starters and sit at 11th in the conference standings, but Howard has put up solid numbers at 17.8 ppg and 12.6 rpg. The argument against his inclusion rests at the defensive end, where Howard has been nowhere near the All-Universe defender he was during his best seasons with the Orlando Magic. Given those struggles, venerable San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan, currently having a great all-around season for the third-best team in the West, may have been the better fit.If only Tony Parker were in the East, he'd have a much better shot at earning whatever All Star bonuses that might be written into his contract. For that matter, with the final East starter ranked all the way down at number 25, there are seven guards from the West who rank higher and who might be better served moving East. But only if they care about All Star bonuses.
[Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons