NBA Eastern Conference Blog: East All-Star Surprises and Snubs

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By MATT McCORMACK
STAFF WRITER

I have always enjoyed the NBA All-Star Game more than those of other sports.  While the stakes are higher in baseball, the NBA is made for star-studded events like the All-Star Game.  It is arguably the most superstar-driven league in the world; when you put all of these stars on the same floor, it usually makes for an exciting night.  Like every sport, however, there are always some surprises when it comes to the selection process.  Here are my thoughts on the 2013-2014 Eastern Conference All-Star roster.

Kyle Lowry is without a doubt the Eastern Conference’s biggest snub.  I talk about this guy almost every week, and for good reason.  He is averaging career highs in almost every major category, without having much talent (outside of the electrifying DeMar DeRozan) playing alongside him.  Even if you aren’t impressed with his statistical performance, he has also led the Toronto Raptors to first place in the Atlantic Division.  It is not surprising that the fans failed to vote him in as a starter (after all, he lacks star power), but why the coaches did not select him as a reserve remains vexing.  Taking into account his breakthrough year and leadership role on a first place team, one can argue that Lowry has been the East’s best point guard this season.  Is he a better overall player than Kyrie Irving or John Wall?  Probably not, but they will be All-Star mainstays for years to come.  It is fun to watch not only the cemented superstars, but also up-and-coming players who have exceeded expectations, especially if they have led their team to victory in the process.

Lance Stephenson is another young player who probably deserved to make the squad.  Although he has not been as impressive as Lowry, he has played an integral role in leading the Pacers to the East’s best record.  Hopefully, Lowry and Stephenson can continue their outstanding play in upcoming years and earn spots on the team.

The inclusion of Brooklyn Nets Joe Johnson is somewhat bewildering.  Even though Johnson and the Nets have caught fire during the month of January, they were absolutely dreadful during November and December.  Johnson is only the second All-Star reserve in over 10 years to have a Player Efficiency Rating below his career average.  Additionally, Johnson remains consistently inconsistent.  To his credit, he has hit a bunch of clutch shots throughout the year to lead Brooklyn to victory, but his overall play is simply not deserving of an All-Star roster spot.  If he were in the West, there is absolutely no way he would even be considered for the All-Star Game.  The East is comparatively weak, but there are still many deserving players like Lowry and Stephenson who have had considerably better seasons so far than Johnson.

Despite a few miscalculations (albeit rather significant ones), the Eastern roster is mostly as expected.  It will be fun to see if LeBron, Carmelo and company can take down the vaunted Western Conference.  However, if I had to bet, I would place my money on the West.  With Kevin Durant leading the way, the West is a scoring juggernaut, especially in a game with relatively little defense played.  Final score prediction: West 160, East 145.