The third tranche of All Star Game voting was released today. These are the last public results before All Star starters are announced next week. I've been half-expecting Kevin Love to pass Blake Griffin for the third starting front court position in the Western Conference behind Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant; the results have been pretty close to this point, and let's face it, Love is a monstrous monster.
I love Steph Curry -- I think he's terrific. But is he better than Paul? No, he's not. Obviously Paul is injured right now, but that never seems to matter much to the voters, who have Kobe Bryant as the top backcourt votegetter despite the fact that Bryant has played all of six games this season.
This is all meaningless at the end of the day. The fans have never done a particularly good job in selecting the starters, and Curry wouldn't be anywhere close to the worst voting mistake they ever made. They've ignored injury for the likes of Bryant and Yao Ming, and B.J. Armstrong and A.C. Green have each started in an NBA All Star Game, believe it or not. So yeah, Curry is a great choice compared to other mistakes.
Not to mention that it seems unlikely that Paul will even play. His rehab from a separated shoulder is supposed to keep him sidelined for six weeks, which depending on when you start the clock (is it six weeks from the injury on Friday January 3rd or six weeks from the exam on Monday January 6th?) could either fall two days before or one day after the February 16th ASG if we're just checking days off on a calendar. I can't see Paul risking his first game back being an exhibition -- so my conclusion is he'll sit it out. After all, he's been there, done that. The fact that the game is in New Orleans might have some pull for him -- but I'd be shocked if he played. So whatever, his spot is available.
But when these sorts of voting quirks occur, there's usually an obvious reason. Yao Ming got millions upon millions of votes from China. Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson are iconic and worshiped with a reverence disproportionate to their considerable skills. Armstrong and Green were market/team driven votes -- the broad-based following of the 80s Lakers and the 90s Bulls carried those mediocre players to ASG starts.
So I'm at a loss to understand why Curry has experienced this surge. The bay area is a good market, but it's not L.A. There's no obvious confounding variable skewing the vote. So either there was some wildly successful get out the vote campaign in Oakland -- or Curry has really captured the imagination of the NBA public. I could have understood a James Harden takeover more easily from a demographic standpoint, based potentially on Rockets fans in China pushing him over the top. If NBA fans just love Stephen Curry that much, well, good for them.
The final vote is yet to come, and if this surge was a result of a get out the vote campaign, it could well be temporary and we could see Paul regain the lead when the final tally is taken. Or we could conceivably see a Western Conference All Star team devoid of a Clipper in the starting lineup, if Love manages to overtake Griffin. Paul currently trails Curry by 26K votes, while Love trails Griffin by about 18K in the most closely contested of the four races.
There are no real surprises on the rest of the list. The East race is completely decided, with decent choices given the limited selection in the East. Yes, we'll see starters from two sub-.400 teams (Carmelo Anthony of 12-22 New York and Kyrie Irving of 12-23 Cleveland), but what are you gonna do? It's the East. There are only three no-brainer starters in the East, and all three of them are in.
Dwight Howard is not necessarily a great choice in the new "three front court players" system; he's eighth in PER among forwards and centers in the Western Conference. But voters still tend to pick a center and two forwards, either consciously or sub-consciously, and he's really the only choice among true centers. And it's not worth discussing the Bryant situation.
Here are the voting results released today:
1. LeBron James (Mia) 1,076,063
2. Paul George (Ind) 899,671
3. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 702,869
4. Roy Hibbert (Ind) 385,964
5. Chris Bosh (Mia) 304,986
6. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 164,021
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 128,201
8. Andre Drummond (Det) 120,844
9. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 101,637
10. Jeff Green (Bos) 96,336
11. Luol Deng (Cle) 90,730
12. Carlos Boozer (Chi) 80,271
13. Paul Pierce (BKN) 72,581
14. David West (Ind) 61,612
15. Brook Lopez (BKN) 58,477
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 718,109
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 652,522
3. Derrick Rose (Chi) 323,099
4. John Wall (Was) 278,516
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 190,086
6. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 133,448
7. Deron Williams (BKN) 95,309
8. George Hill (Ind) 89,428
9. Lance Stephenson (Ind) 77,364
10. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 68,985
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,054,209
2. Dwight Howard (Hou) 509,116
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 500,964
4. Kevin Love (Min) 483,031
5. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 404,793
6. Tim Duncan (SA) 385,342
7. Anthony Davis (NO) 223,956
8. Pau Gasol (LAL) 207,213
9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 192,616
10. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 156,792
11. DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 148,604
12. David Lee (GS) 141,509
13. Chandler Parsons (Hou) 135,387
14. Omer Asik (Hou) 101,372
15. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 91,859
1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 844,538
2. Stephen Curry (GS) 677,372
3. Chris Paul (LAC) 651,073
4. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 471,980
5. James Harden (Hou) 338,788
6. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 260,499
7. Tony Parker (SA) 195,328
8. Damian Lillard (Por) 162,363
9. Klay Thompson (GS) 108,404
10. Ricky Rubio (Min) 97,265