The Warriors have been the sensation of the sporting world in 2015. They are dominating the NBA on the court, in the TV ratings and in merchandise sales. But we are about to open a phase in which Golden State might not smash the competition: All-Star voting.
The NBA opened its balloting today at 11 a.m. and will count votes across a variety of platforms until Jan. 18. And the Warriors, the team that hasn’t lost in 23 games, the team that has been at least five games better than any other squad in the league so far, is liable to send just two representatives to Toronto.
Steph Curry, of course, will be one of them. Curry will probably receive enough votes by noon tomorrow to make the West squad.
But after Steph? Who else? Draymond Green, probably. The Warriors’ emotional fuse is averaging 13 points a game, which doesn’t scream All-Star. But he’s currently top-seven in assists at 7.0 and just outside the top 20 in rebounding at 8.5. Most keen observers by now must realize that, night in and night out, Green is the second most important Warrior and a deserving All-Star.
You’d figure a team that is vying for the longest winning streak in the history of professional sports would pack the All-Star roster with three or even four players. That might not happen for the Warriors. Small forward Andre Iguodala has been sensational this season, but he never starts and his overall numbers are modest. In tandem, centers Festus Ezeli and Andrew Bogut have been an effective duo in the paint; singly, neither is an All-Star.
That leaves Klay Thompson, who was, after all, a first-time participant in the All-Star Game last season. Thompson is a strong player on both sides of the ball. But his scoring has tailed off this year, from 21.7 to 18.2. His rebounding is up a little. His assists are down a little.
Thompson certainly is in the pool of consideration, but consider the other guards he’s going up against in the Western Conference. In addition to Curry, there’s Houston’s James Harden (averaging 29 points a game, second only to Curry in the league), Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (26.4 plus 9.9 assists, second in the NBA), Portland’s Damian Lillard (24.5 points), Sacramento’s Rajon Rondo (league-best 11 assists), the Clippers’ Chris Paul (third-best 8.6 assists) and Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe (top 12 in both scoring and assists). And that’s not even taking into consideration the melodramatic swan song of Kobe Bryant.
Is there room in there for Klay Thompson? A lot can change by mid-January, but probably not. Unless he makes the All-Star team based on popularity and reputation more than current value.
And that would truly signal a new era for the Warriors, wouldn’t it? For a long time, they were the players who got snubbed, even if they were having banner seasons, because their team was so lackluster. Now, they just may be the guys bumping deserving All-Stars from other teams.