ASG Selection: Why Stephen Curry was “Snubbed”

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Stephen Curry’s absence from the 2013 ASG has kept the basketball world buzzing since the reserves were announced on Thursday. The Warriors point guard has been instrumental in Golden State’s newfound success and currently leads the league in 3 point shots made per game. But was he really a snub? A few things have to be understood first.

Each conference is allowed a 12 man roster, consisting of 4 guards, 6 forwards, and 2 wildcards. This breaks down into 2 starting guards, 3 starting forwards, 2 bench guards, 3 bench forwards, and 2 bench players of undetermined position.

As a guard, there were 6 roster spots he was eligible to fill; 4 guards, 2 wildcards. Given that Curry is not starter caliber at this time, he was realistically competing for 1 of 4 spots.

The starters are voted by the fans, while the reserves are chosen by the coaches. Unless Curry was in the conversation as a starter (he wasn’t), his involvement in the all star game was not determined by NBA fans.

Now, let’s focus on the reserves. The players that made it ahead of Stephen Curry were: Tony Parker (G), Russell Westbrook (G), James Harden (G), Tim Duncan (F), Zach Randolph (F), LaMarcus Aldridge (F), and David Lee (F). For sake of comparison, their stats are as follows:

Tony Parker (Guard) San Antonio Spurs:
Points per game: 19.8, Rebounds per game: 2.9, Assists per game: 7.4, Steals per game: 0.9, Blocks per game: 0.1, Turnovers per game: 2.4, (Minutes per game: 32.8)

Russell Westbrook (Guard) Oklahoma City Thunder:
Points per game: 22.7, Rebounds per game: 5.3, Assists per game: 8.1, Steals per game: 1.9, Blocks per game: 0.3, Turnovers per game: 3.5, (Minutes per game: 36.5)

James Harden (Guard) Houston Rockets:
Points per game: 25.8, Rebounds per game: 4.5, Assists per game: 5.4, Steals per game: 1.9, Blocks per game: 0.5, Turnovers per game: 3.9, (Minutes per game: 38.6)

Tim Duncan (Forward) San Antonio Spurs:
Points per game: 17.5, Rebounds per game: 9.8, Assists per game: 2.8, Steals per game: 0.8, Blocks per game: 2.7, Turnovers per game: 2.0, (Minutes per game: 30.2)

Zach Randolph (Forward) Memphis Grizzlies:
Points per game: 16.1, Rebounds per game: 11.6, Assists per game: 1.4, Steals per game: 0.8, Blocks per game: 0.5, Turnovers per game: 2.1, (Minutes per game: 35.1)

LaMarcus Aldridge (Forward) Portland Trail Blazers:
Points per game: 20.7, Rebounds per game: 8.8, Assists per game: 2.5, Steals per game: 1.0, Blocks per game: 1.3, Turnovers per game: 2.0, (Minutes per game: 38.0)

David Lee (Forward) Golden State Warriors:
Points per game: 19.6, Rebounds per game: 10.8, Assists per game: 3.7, Steals per game: 0.9, Blocks per game: 0.2, Turnovers per game: 2.7, (Minutes per game: 37.6)

Given that 3 guards were chosen as reserves, we can assume that either Parker, Westbrook, or Harden was a wild card selection. Is Curry more deserving than any of them?

Stephen Curry (Guard) Golden State Warriors:
Points per game: 20.9, Rebounds per game: 4.1, Assists per game: 6.6, Steals per game: 1.7, Blocks per game: 0.2, Turnovers per game: 2.9, (Minutes per game: 38.2)

He can’t compare to the breakout scoring of James Harden, nor can he compare to the staggering athleticism of Russell Westbrook (as much as I hate to say it). They both have him beat statistically. Besides, Westbrook and Curry are the 7th and 8th leading scorers in the NBA, respectively. It might be different if Curry dished out dramatically more assists, but as it stands, there’s no reason for a leap frog in all star priority.

His most comparable competitor for a guard slot is Tony Parker. They have shown similar abilities to score and facilitate this season; however, Tony does it in 5 fewer minutes a game. Not only that, Parker plays for the team with the 2nd best record in the West and he is 6 years Curry’s senior. Remember, the coaches are making this call, and no impartial coach will oust a polished veteran in favor of a burgeoning star if the numbers don’t add up.

This leaves one spot left for Stephen; the 2nd wild card. So who’s left? Remember, the reserve forwards are Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge, and David Lee. I’m going to save us a little time and say that Duncan, Aldridge, and Lee are locks. Feel free to debate this, but I’m going to move forward.

So for the very last spot on the all star reserves list, it comes down to Stephen Curry vs. Zach Randolph; most 3s vs. 2nd most rebounds. While it may be more fun to watch Curry drill deep 3s than it is to watch Z-Bo clean the glass, the reserves are not elected for flash. Both are great at what they do, but here are what I see as the tie-breaking factors:

1. This is Stephen Curry’s 4th season in the NBA while it is Zach Randolph’s 12th.
2. Memphis has a better record than Golden State and deserves to be represented in the ASG.
3. Golden State is already represented by David Lee.

I would like to take a moment to say that I really like Stephen Curry. I would have loved to see him compete in the all star game this year, as I’m sure he will in years to come, but he just didn’t make the cut. It doesn’t mean that he’s bad, it doesn’t mean the system is unfair, it just means that there are a lot of excellent players in the Western Conference this year. This was not a snub. It was a carefully thought out decision made by those most qualified to make it. Was it close? Certainly. But sometimes there just isn’t enough room.

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