NBA All-Star voting season got underway on Christmas Day as fans can now vote on which players they’d like to see start this February’s game in Charlotte. All across the league, teams will be campaigning for their players to make the game, and understandably so.
Last year, 23 players saw action in the game that pitted Team LeBron against Team Steph in Los Angeles. A total of 28 players were named as All-Stars, but Team LeBron was decimated by injuries with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kevin Love all missing the game. On Team Steph, Jimmy Butler had his first encounter of general soreness, being an active DNP-CD.
Butler making the game, even though he didn’t play, meant that the Wolves had a pair of players named to the game for the first time since the 2004 edition of the game with both Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell received the honor.
Karl-Anthony Towns made the first NBA All-Star Game of his career in that game and looks to be on track to return to the game this season. Towns’ numbers are similar to last year, averaging nearly 21 points and 12 rebounds per contest. He’s currently fifth in rebounds among Western Conference players, and among those players, only Anthony Davis scores more points per game than Towns.
It’s very likely that Davis will be among the front court starters from the Western Conference that are voted in by fans. Joining him will probably be LeBron James and Kevin Durant. This leaves Towns to a reserve role, which he undoubtedly deserves.
This begs the question, do the Wolves have any business putting a second player in the All-Star Game?
Andrew Wiggins is having arguably the worst season of his career, he doesn’t belong anywhere near the game, Butler has long since been jettisoned, and Minnesota’s second-best player this season comes off the bench.
Derrick Rose has an interesting case for the game, in a vacuum. Rose is easily having his best season since he took home the 2011 NBA MVP Award as a member of the Chicago Bulls. He’s reinvented himself as someone that can knock down an outside shot with consistency for the first time in his career. He’s scoring 18.7 points per game while shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and a 45.5 percent mark from behind the 3-point line.
Prior to this season, the best percentage Rose has shot from deep in a full season was 32.2. The remarkable jump has him tied for fifth place in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage among players with 100 or more such shots attempted. Rose is tied with Steph Curry, who also happens to be the most illustrious 3-point shooter in the history of the NBA. So, yeah, he’s in good company.
The problem with this, is that the Western Conference is absolutely loaded with better players than Rose at the guard spot.
Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Damian Lillard are solidly above Rose in terms of production. There’s little doubt that two of those four will be voted in as the starters, with the other two being reserves. CJ McCollum, Mike Conley, and a few others are in a very similar category as Rose, if not slightly higher.
Curry and Harden are once again in the thick of an MVP race, Westbrook is on his way to averaging a triple-double for a third consecutive season, and Lillard is nearly replicating numbers that made him a first-team All-NBA guard last season. McCollum hasn’t been having a great season, but his numbers are very comparable to Rose’s, and Conley is in that same boat as well. What they have going for them over Rose, is the success that their respective teams have been having.
After that, there are players such as Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox that are vying for their first all-star appearance with quality seasons in Sacramento, and how could Klay Thompson – a four-time all-star – be forgotten despite a down season in terms of his 3-point shooting percentage? Donovan Mitchell has regressed a tad, but his impressive rookie season has still carried over to an extent into year No. 2, and with the schedule for the Jazz easing up a bit in the near future, he could be primed for an outbreak.
Sure, Rose has been awesome for the Wolves. He’s been so good to the point that it’s very fair to wonder where Minnesota would be if he weren’t having this resurgence. In fact, the argument could be made that he’s the best
What Rose has going for him, potentially, is the size of his fanbase. Despite all of his past issues, Rose boasts one of the largest fan bases in the NBA. The reception he received in Chicago is evidence that he’s still loved there, just like many other places across the country.
Rose figures to do well in terms of fan voting, even possible finishing with more votes than his teammate, Towns. It will be interesting to see where he finishes amongst Western Conference players in terms of fan voting overall. For the first time in quite some time, he has the numbers to give a legitimate reason to vote for him.
His fans will undoubtedly give more support than many other well-deserving players, but if he doesn’t somehow pull off a win in that category, it’s very tough to see him spending All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The Wolves will do everything they can to push a campaign for Rose to get to Charlotte, and they should be doing that, but in all likelihood, Towns will be going alone.