An Unbalanced Debate: NBA All Star Voting

By: Michael DePrisco and Stone Strankman

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The All Star voting system in the NBA has long been a topic of debate among basketball fans. Almost every year, at least one deserving player is snubbed of an All Star appearance. The main issue that is discussed with All Star selections is whether or not to involve fans in the voting.

This season, the NBA made a change to the selection process. NBA players and media now account for 50% of the vote, while the other 50% go to the fans. This rule change was supposed to keep players who did not deserve to make the All Star team from getting in over more deserving players.

However, players across the league have voiced their distaste with how the voting has panned out so far. DeMarcus Cousins, who is currently sixth in total votes among western conference frontcourt players, finds himself below Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors. Cousins is averaging 28.1 points and 10 rebounds, while Pachulia is averaging 5 points and 5 rebounds.

Cousins is not the only example of All Star voting injustice, as multiple players across the league find themselves behind in voting even though they deserve a selection for the All Star game in New Orleans.

Here is where Stone Strankman and Michael DePrisco will both bring forth an argument regarding fan involvement in All Star voting. At the end of the debate, it is up to you the reader, to decide who brought up the best points to win the argument.

(Image via: SLAMonline)

Mike DePrisco’s Take

If you ask me, the NBA All Star voting system is broken. The reason for that is the fans. Fans have repeatedly voted in players that were not as deserving as other players. Last year, the starters were decided by popular vote, and the reserves were selected by the coaches. This led to players like Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, and Kristaps Porzingis missing out on the All Star game when they deserved to make it. In my opinion, fans should no longer be involved in All Star voting.

Last year, Damian Lillard finished tenth in All-Star voting among Western Conference guards. He received less votes than veterans like Manu Ginobili, Andre Iguodala, Tony Parker, and Rajon Rondo. While all of those players deserve some votes, they absolutely should not have more than Lillard, who averaged 25 points and 7 assists per game last year.

This season has not been very different in terms of fans voting for the wrong guys. Zaza Pachulia is second among Western Conference frontcourt players in total votes. He is ahead of superstar players like Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins, who are all playing at a high level.

Dwyane Wade is also undeservedly getting a ton of votes. I get that he is a future Hall of Famer, but there are plenty of players more deserving of those votes than Wade. Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, and John Wall are playing substantially better than Wade, but he has more votes than all of them.

There is a major hole in the system when it comes to All Star selections. Players have incentives placed in their contracts where they can earn bonuses for getting selected to the All Star game. These are the same types of bonuses players can earn for being selected to an All-NBA team, making the playoffs, etc.

If players are making or losing money based on making an All Star team, then why are fans involved? Also, most fans vote through Twitter, and they have found a way to use bots to in order to boost a player’s returns. If you tweet a vote for Kawhi Leonard, ten fake accounts will automatically retweet you, counting for ten additional votes.

Fans have turned All Star voting into a joke, and I think it is time to take them out of the process. Originally, fans were included so they would actually watch this glorified pickup game. As the league has gained popularity, the All Star game has as well. So I don’t think fans would boycott the game because they couldn’t vote for their favorite players.

If All Star appearances are used as a measured accolade for a player’s career, as well as being included as incentives in contracts, fans should not be allowed to vote. All they have done for years is vote in the same guys, as well as snubbed players that are more than deserving of the honor.

(Image via: ClutchPoints)

Stone Strankman’s Take

Fan voting for the NBA is very good and very bad at the same time, but it is a lot of fun seeing how what a majority of NBA fans are voting. This year the voting is split 50/50 between NBA players/coaches and the fans. Zaza Pachulia is the main topic of this years NBA All-Star game in New Orleans, and it is an interesting sight to see.

Zaza has more votes than every player other than Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Greek Freak, also known as Giannis (I can’t spell his name correctly, therefore I refuse to try). That’s a whole lot of Russell Westbrook’s, James Harden’s, DeMarcus Cousins’, Anthony Davis’… well you get the point. There’s a plethora of players that should have more votes than Zaza, and that’s what makes fan voting great.

The All Star Game is becoming less and less relevant, just like the NFL’s Pro Bowl has become over recent years. All Star Weekend however, is becoming more fun to watch. With the absurd amount of 3 point shooters the league has, and the Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine rivalry we have in the Slam Dunk Contest is making it more appealing to watch. The All Star Game is a game for offense, and absolutely zero defense. Here are some of the previous All Star Game’s scores:

2016: 196–173 West

2015: 163–158 West

2014: 163–155 East

Watching a basketball game with no defense is not the most exciting thing to experience for 48 minutes. It may be fun for the first half, but when field goal percentages are flying sky high, and defenders are moving out of the way for others to drive, it isn’t fun for viewers.

Last year fans were pushing late in the voting process for Zaza to make the All Star Team, but he came up just a tad short. This year he is a front runner for the Western Conference and I couldn’t be more proud of NBA fans. Zaza will bring a weird vibe to the All Star Game, like, “Does this dude really belong here?” Nope. “Is this actually kind of funny that he’s in the game right now?” Yup.

Zaza doesn’t belong in the All Star Game, but I will more than gladly accept him with open arms during this year’s game. With all of this being said, fan voting should be here to stay, but let’s maybe not let All Star Game appearances affect the decisions on whether someone gets into the Hall of Fame or not.

Now that you have both sides, let us know who you think brought up the best points to decide the winner. Should the fans be involved in the All Star voting process?