DeMarcus Cousins: The Latest Case in Flawed All-Star Selection System


It’s pretty well documented that Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is finally an NBA All-Star. Unfortunately, it took the divine intervention of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to put him into the game after the farcical nature of the All-Star selection process reared its head again.

If it wasn’t for Silver, Cousins would have been the most egregious snub of the season.

Every year, the All-Star Game will have guys who are deserving but don’t get to play. It’s natural. There are only 12 spots on each roster.

But Cousins shouldn’t have been in that position to start. Yes, there was no way Cousins was going to be voted into the starting lineup. He doesn’t play in a marquee market or even on a good team.

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In general, fan votes are a great way to generate interest into a meaningless exhibition game where defense is purely optional until the final quarter when pride overtakes everything. Fan votes, however, aren’t necessarily the best way to determine who’s the most deserving.

Remember 2010 when Allen Iverson was voted a starter despite not deserving a spot and ended up not playing? That’s exactly why coaches are given the power to choose the conference’s respective reserves.

On the East team, the conference-leading Atlanta Hawks will have three representatives despite none of them being voted as starters. It probably helps that Hawks coach, Mike Budenholzer, is leading the East All-Stars this season. The Hawks needed to have some representation, considering they have the best record, as of today, in the NBA.

There’s not a lot of leeway on the West roster, on the other hand. Had Cousins been playing on a team in the East, he’d be a starter, and this article would be written about Damian Lillard instead and featured on another site.

The frontcourt depth in the West is incredible.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will never lose a fan vote. New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis is having an MVP-like season. Marc Gasol is the best player on the third-place Memphis Grizzlies, and you can’t argue the selection of Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

Yet there is no way Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr could justify choosing the aging, yet fundamentally sound San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan over Cousins.

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  • Cousins is outperforming Duncan in most aspects. Cousins also ranks ninth in the league in player efficiency rating (24.95) and owns the eight-best rebound rate (21.2) among qualified players – both metrics ahead of Duncan.

    Sure, Cousins missed a few games fighting viral meningitis, but it’s not like Duncan played in all of the games too. It’s unfathomable to think that the basketball-savvy Kerr passed on Cousins in favor of Duncan based on statistics and recent play. This is likely a case of Cousins’ off-court reputation coming into play and Kerr giving the veteran the nod out of respect.

    Neither of those things should have played into Kerr’s decision. This game means nothing and Duncan isn’t – at least officially – on a retirement tour, so neither are acceptable reasons why Cousins shouldn’t have been included. It’s not like Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett are heading to Barclays Center to be a part of the game.

    Silver did the right thing by choosing Cousins as the replacement for Kobe Bryant, and Cousins will now get his rightful honor as an NBA All-Star when he leaves for Brooklyn in a few weeks. The decision corrected the latest blunder in the All-Star Game selection process.

    That doesn’t make the All-Star selection process any better or justifiable.

    It can’t be fixed, sadly.

    All fans can do is simply vote for players and start the vicious cycle all over again.

    Next: Kings Need More Than Just Defense To Win Games