NBA All-Star Starters 2014: Biggest Snubs and Surprises from Voting

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2014

NBA All-Star Starters 2014: Biggest Snubs and Surprises from Voting

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    The announcement of the 2014 NBA All-Star Game starters sent a few mixed signals about the overall voting process, but one thing was abundantly clear: Fans aren't too keen on centers anymore.

    In the Western Conference, Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant earned nods as backcourt starters. Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love will round out the lineup up front.

    The East will field a similarly center-less squad, featuring Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade at the guard spots, and LeBron James, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in the frontcourt.

    Remember, this is a popular vote. The people have spoken and it's important to note that this game is just an exhibition. So while it's tempting to get riled up about the various perceived injustices, keep in mind that these are the players most people want to see competing in New Orleans on Feb. 16.

    Still, there's room to discuss some of the surprises and snubs in this year's starting lineups.

    Whether the shockers resulted from late comebacks in the polls or a glaring omission of clearly deserving talent, All-Star selections are bound to spark discussion. Let's see which players will be the biggest topics of conversation in the days ahead.

Snub: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Brock Williams-Smith/Getty Images

    Chris Paul checked in with the third-most votes among West guards in the Jan. 9 release of voting results, so it's not a major shock that he remained in that position after the final numbers were tallied.

    That doesn't make it fair, though.

    CP3 has been the best guard in basketball this year, and it hasn't been particularly close. He ranks third in the NBA in PER, trailing only Kevin Durant and LeBron James, per For reference, Stephen Curry, a deserving starter in his own right, ranks 12th.

    The spoiler in this situation is Kobe Bryant, who finished ahead of Paul by about 184,000 votes. It's possible that Bryant will be healthy enough to play in the All-Star Game, but according to Bill Oram of The Orange County Register: "Kobe says he doesn’t think he will play in All Star game even if he plays for Lakers before then."

    Paul's bum shoulder would probably have resulted in him skipping the festivities as well, but he certainly deserved the honor of being named a starter.

Surprise: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

    For a guy his size, Kevin Love did a pretty good job of sneaking up on the competition.

    Despite trailing Dwight Howard by over 26,000 votes on Jan. 9, the Minnesota Timberwolves' do-it-all forward moved past D12 and into the No. 2 spot behind Griffin and Durant. In doing so, he assured himself a spot as a starter.

    It's hard to knock Love's credentials. His averages of 25 points, 13 rebounds and 4.1 assists practically scream "All-Star." But his team is below .500 and Howard has long been a favorite among voters, which makes this something of a surprise.

    And it's not just Howard who should be feeling a little hurt that he lost out on a spot to Love, either. The next guy in line was more deserving than just about any frontcourt player in the West (Durant excluded).

Snub: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    LaMarcus Aldridge was robbed.

    The Portland Trail Blazers have been the biggest surprise team in the league this year, and he's been their unquestioned best player. With per-game averages of 24.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists, he's certainly deserving of a starting spot.

    It's obviously tough to take one of them away from either Love or Griffin, but if team success means anything, Aldridge has both of them beat in that department. Portland currently sports a three-game lead on the Los Angeles Clippers in the West. And it's miles ahead of the 20-21 Wolves.

    With only three frontcourt spots available, somebody was bound to get left out. It just seems especially unfair to Aldridge.

Surprise: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    It's not so much that Irving doesn't deserve a starting spot in the East backcourt. The pickings are slim in the league's lesser conference, and the usual suspects—Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams—have all been bitten by the injury bug.

    But it's pretty stunning that Irving managed to secure a starting spot so easily, beating out John Wall by nearly half a million votes.

    Irving has been one of the more memorable All-Star participants in past years, dominating the Rising Stars Challenge and winning the Three-Point Shootout in previous seasons. So honoring him as a starter isn't crazy.

    But his Cleveland Cavaliers are a disjointed mess and he hasn't made the kind of leap many expected this season. Irving is a very good player, but Wall's team is having more success.

    Plus, you could make the case that Wall's 20.2 points, 8.5 assists and 20.15 PER make for a more All-Star-worthy resume than Irving's 21.7 points, 6.1 assists and 20.07 PER.

    At the very least, we can call it a close race. You know, closer than 500,000 votes.

Snub: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Someday, we'll all look back and wonder how Roy Hibbert was somehow excluded from the starting lineup of the 2014 All-Star Game.

    This guy is the most impactful player on the defensive half of the court, a location that is just as valuable as the offensive half. His exclusion tells us that, in addition to not liking centers very much, voters also don't care about defense.

    To be fair, it's understandable that Hibbert might not be as fun to watch in a game that will probably feature at least 250 combined points. Still, though, it's really hard to stomach the idea of the guy who might be the most important player on the league's best team missing out on a starting nod.

    Maybe the Indiana Pacers should start distributing informational pamphlets on the value of defense.

Surprise: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    To be clear, it's not at all surprising that Stephen Curry is starting the All-Star Game, even though he'll be the first Golden State Warrior to do so since Latrell Sprewell.

    What's incredible is the voting blitz over the past few weeks that got him all the way up to the No. 1 spot among West backcourt players.

    On Jan. 9, Curry trailed Bryant by nearly 170,000 votes. In the final tally, Curry ended up ahead by almost 60,000. His jump from 677,372 to 1,047,281 was the biggest of any player in that span. Credit Warriors fans for voting like crazy, the team's top-notch social media team for taking advantage of a uniquely tech-savvy voting pool and Curry for going from last year's biggest snub to one of only four players to garner over one million votes this time around.

    Curry shared his appreciation for the honor via Twitter: "Wow. Thanks 2 everyone that supported and that voted for me. Amazing feeling and can't wait to represent my teammates down in NO. #dubnation"