Getting all up-in-arms over NBA All-Star selections and snubs is a pretty tired and futile practice. In the end, it’s a showcase for the fans, and they have the right to vote for the players they’d prefer to see. In some cases, though, the players that get voted in as starters are a bit silly. For example, per the most recent voting tallies released by the league, Kobe Bryant is currently among the leaders at the guard spot in the Western Conference, despite having played a grand total of six games all season due to injury. Bryant actually ranks second among all Western Conference players in votes, trailing only OKC’s Kevin Durant.
It’s always been a popularity contest, which, again, is fine. I’d probably rather watch Kobe (if healthy) than Goran Dragic, too. But beyond those voted in, there’s always a healthy debate regarding those to be chosen as reserves by head coaches around the league. That’s where the case for the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan can be made.
Since the NBA has done away with the “center” position on the ballot, centers are now just grouped in with forwards as “frontcourt” players. As a result, Jordan is completely buried. As of the last released tally, he trailed players like Omer Asik, Kawhi Leonard and Andre Iguodala. His only hope is being picked for the team as a reserve.
In his first half-season under new head coach Doc Rivers, we’ve already seen a transformed DeAndre Jordan. His effort and seriousness regarding basketball has always been his largest question mark, and his dedication to improvement has never really been evident in previous years. His career averages are up across-the-board. This season, he’s averaging 9.4 points (6.9 for career), 13.5 rebounds (7.2) and 2.4 blocked shots (1.5) while shooting 64 percent from the floor. His minutes have been ramped up in a big way (up to 35 per game this season from just 24 a year ago), so surely that plays a part in his escalated statistics.
Following a 14-point, 17-rebound, 8-block effort in a blowout win over Orlando Monday night, Rivers got a little carried away and compared Jordan to Celtics legend Bill Russell. Jordan isn’t Russell, nor is he anywhere near that level, but the comparison isn’t COMPLETELY insane, either. They both block shots and grab rebounds quite a bit, while scoring isn’t their primary skill. Jordan’s free throws are still a problem (an abysmal 40% from the stripe this season), but there’s no question his play is vital to the Clippers’ long-term success this season. Rivers wasted no time in grouping Jordan in with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as the team’s “Big Three” prior to the season, and he hasn’t been afraid to let Jordan stay in games in crunch time, despite the lack of ability to contribute from the line.
A big thing that may keep Jordan out of the February festivities in New Orleans is the likelihood that both Griffin and Paul are voted in by the fans as starters. They’ve been voted as starters in each of the last two years, and, as of the latest release, are in position to start, once again. Does the fourth-best team in the West deserve to have three players occupying roster spots on an All-Star team? Probably not. There are tons of other deserving players. Durant, Griffin and Dwight Howard are likely to make it as the three starters. Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge are near locks, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are exciting, emerging superstars, and Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Zach Randolph have all been as steady as ever. Jordan may well fall victim to a numbers game.
All-Star selections shouldn’t be important to what the Clippers are trying to accomplish this season. They brought Rivers into the mix in order to take the next step toward a championship, and, if Jordan and Griffin each continue to improve the way they have this season, they have a real chance to make some noise come playoff time.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.