DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard lead NBA All-Star snubs

Why 3s, not dunks, now reign at All-Star



By Ethan Sherwood Strauss  From

韦德国际1946 1

Photo/Brandon Dill

The dunk contest used to be All-Star Weekend’s signature event, even
if the league never quite got a handle on how to orchestrate it. The
dunk, after all, is basketball’sclassic, galvanizing moment of
athletic expression.


Basketball is changing, though, and we see it reflected in the
anticipation for All-Star Weekend. There’s buzz over a 3-point shoot
out involving Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson,Kyle Korver, James Harden,
Kyrie Irving,J.J. Redick,Wesley MatthewsandMarco Belinelli.The dunk
contest? Dinner plans aren’t being canceled to watchMason
Plumleejumpingin public.


You can chalk up the gulf in star power between All-Star Saturday’s
marquee events as a matter of the dunk contest’s safety concerns,
prospect of humiliation and general mismanagement over the years.
That’s part of theexplanation, to be sure. There’s another factor
here, though: raw athleticism– i.e., the ability to jump –is less of
what defines a perimeter player these days.


The game is far different than when Michael Jordan averaged 37.1
points a game in a dominant 1987-88 MVP season while shooting .182
from behind the arc.


It’s different these days because the rules are different.When the NBA
had illegal defense, space in the paint was legislated into the
game.Defenders weren’t allowed zone coverages according to where a
player might drive.This all changedafter 2002, when illegal defense
was nixed and coaches such asTom Thibodeauflooded the strong side to
prevent scorersfrom driving.


Now teams have to carve out their own by spreading defenses with as
muchshooting as possible. Someone like Korver might be a bench player
in thenot-too-distant past. These days, he’s an integral part of a
great team and afringe All-Star candidate. In that aforementioned
Jordan season, the leagueaverage on 3s attempted by a team was 401.
Last season, that average was 1,766.The long ball is no longer a goofy
novelty; it’s the lifeblood of a teamoffense.


I recently asked Curry if the buzz over the contest shows how the game
haschanged. “Yeah, I would say so,” he replied. “Because, obviously,
alot of teams are successful from outside, shooting the 3 ball, being
reallysuccessful at it, turning that into wins.”


That’s about the size of it. For as much as retired players warn of
“living anddying by the 3,” the 3-pointer wins games. More than that,
it wins titles.


“You don’t want to vacate the paint entirely,” Curry continued, “but
to consistently shoot from outside, use it as a threat, it’s really
tough to guard, and I think the Spurs won championships off of that
concept and it’s proven to be successful.”


Dunks are still loved and can still change a game in a big way. High
flyers such as Blake Griffin,Russell Westbrook and LeBron James still
have a lot of currency in this league.It’s just that the game is less
defined by the dunk and more defined by a softer kind of triumph.


It’s personified by Curry, someone who looks about as physically
imposing as your average golf pro (for the record, Curry is an
excellent golfer), lofting 3s over a defense’s futile efforts at
intimidation.His skill set has more to do with winning than it would
have in the past. Fansare drawn to what’s ultimately successful.


As Curry says, this year’s contest should be “one of the funner parts
of the night.”


He then catches himself: “Funner’s not a word. [That’s] pretty bad.”


Maybe not, but with the way 3-point shooters are redefining the game,
it mightindeed be more fun.




The 2015 NBA All-Star Game starters were named a week ago and the
All-Star reserves have been named by the coaches around the league.
Now that we know who has made the All-Star rosters in both
conferences, it’s time to talk about which players were omitted. One
of the toughest parts of getting All-Stars everybody can agree on in
each conference is having enough spots for deserving players.


That’s practically impossible in the loaded Western Conference and
even a bit of a problem with the Eastern Conference this season. Guys
like DeMarcus Cousins and Damian Lillard were surprise omissions in
the West. Kyle Korver and Brandon Knight didn’t make it but could
still find their way in with Dwyane Wade’s injury. In fact, we’ll have
at least two injury replacements with Wade and Kobe Bryant, and maybe
even another one if LaMarcus Aldridge decides to rest that injured


So who were the toughest omissions/snubs in both conferences and
whocould have a great chance at being an injury replacement? Let’s
take a look atthe candidates:



Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: Kyle Korver probably isn’t your
traditional type of All-Star but in an era of basketball in which
we’re getting smarter about the way we judge and dissect players, we
can see just how deserving he is. He’s been arguably the most
impactful player on the Eastern Conference’s best team. Yes, he
doesn’t average that many points, but his shooting threat makes all
defenses terrified to leave him. When they do, he buries them with
historically great shooting. And don’t think of him as just as hooter;
he’s a fantastic team defender on one of the best defenses. He’s the
early favorite to replace Wade.


Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks: The Milwaukee Bucks have been one of
the nicer surprises in the Eastern Conference and Brandon Knight has
been the best player on the team all season long. Jason Kidd relies on
Knight to set the tone on offense and he’s been a willing and capable
defender too. With 17.9 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals,
and 43.9 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from 3-point range,
he’s having a career year across the board. He’s in heavy competition
with Korver for the replacement.


Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards: The Washington Wizards are one of
the top defensive teams in the NBA and Marcin Gortat is a huge reason
for that.John Wall’s top pick-and-roll partner has been anchoring the
Wizards’ defense all year, helping them be a top 7 defense. Gortat’s
averages of 12.0 points and 8.2 rebounds are lesser numbers for him,
but his impact has been felt throughout the season.


Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: Andre Drummond had a disastrous first
month of the season, but once December hit and especially after Josh
Smith was waived, Drummond came on board to be the monster center we
expected under Stan Van Gundy. He’s one of only a couple players
putting up averages of at least 12 points and 12 boards, and his field
goal percentage is about to eclipse the 50.0 percent mark, despite the
uptick in post possessions. Without that bad November, he might be a
lock to have made the team.


Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic: Speaking of giant, double-double
centers, the 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic every
night have been stellar for the Magic. He’s still not a great defender
but he’s slowly improving his team defense. Having Aaron Gordon back
in the lineup and the starting duo of Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton
should help that a bit. And he’s their anchor on offense, forcing the
defenses to swarm the post and battle him on the boards. He might be
tough to keep off the team next season.



DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings: The uproar of DeMarcus Cousinsnot
being on the roster was very loud right after the West reserves were
announced. Cousins could end up being the first player in league
history that isn’t named to the All-Star team with averages of about
24 points and 12 rebounds. Cousins’ team isn’t bad because he can’t
lead them. They’re bad because he got sick, the coach was fired during
that window of opportunity, and Tyrone Corbin hasn’t been able to
bring things together. Cousins is one of a handful of deserving guys
in the West, squeezed out because of limited spots. He’ll be in heavy
consideration for replacement spots.


Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard will also be in
heavy consideration as Kobe’s replacement when Adam Silver makes that
decision.Lillard has helped the Blazers get to one of the best records
in the NBA, and his exclusion from the first run of reserves before
replacements were announced was surprising. He has the highest scoring
average (21.8), rebounding average(4.6), steals average (1.3), and
field goal percentage (43.2 percent) of his career. He’s also one of
the best clutch scorers in the NBA.


Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley has been one of the best
point guards in the NBA on one of the best teams in the first half of
the season, but the Western Conference is so loaded that I’m not even
sure how you argue he should be in over any of the reserves selected.
That’s not a knock on him either. It’s just that loaded. For Conley,
he’s one of the league’s best defensive point guards and he puts up
17.4 points, 5.6 assists, and shoots over 40.0 percent from 3-point
range.He really doesn’t have aweakness on the floor and plays
perfectly off of Marc Gasol at the end of games.


Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks: Monta Ellis have it all, but he didn’t
have it All-Star this season.He’s been a revelation since joining the
Dallas Mavericks last season. This season, he’s putting up 20.5 points
and 4.4 assists, while posing as the top playmaking option at the end
of games for the Mavericks. Prior tothe Rajon Rondo trade, Ellis
helped the Mavericks put up the league’s bestoffense.He’s hard to call
a snub,but it’s hard to say he hasn’t had an All-Star caliber season.


Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors: The Atlanta Hawks got three
All-Stars, so why don’t the Golden State Warriors have three
All-Stars? Well, they play in the crazily packed West, so that cuts
down on chances to make the All-Star team. Draymond Green has been
their third best player and one of the league’stop defenders. His
averages of 11.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6steals, and 1.4
blocks show his versatility. His 3-point shooting has dipped below
league average but he’s still a very real threat you have to close out
on. He wasn’t robbed but he was pretty deserving.



                               2015.1.30-2.1  译