Well the Western Conference coaches have made up their minds about the All-Star reserves. You can check them out here. One thing you might notice is that Kevin Love is not among those listed. I know that just this morning I prepared us all for this eventuality, and it was certainly gratifying to hear Charles and EJ and Kenny and C-Webb express outrage in their boozily solipsistic, Gentlemen’s-Club-for-bros-y way (and even more gratifying to here the Round Mound refer to himself as a “big black grizzly bear”), but I’m surprised to notice that it still burns me up a little.
Now, first: I’m telling you this with the full awareness that, in all likelihood, David Stern will choose K-Love to replace Yao Ming on the West Side (it’s very hard to imagine Stern passing up a player as “clean cut” and “wholesome” as our guy). Next: I’m fully open to the argument that, a) because of his defensive shortcomings (although Kevin Pelton puts those nicely into perspective here), Love is less valuable to his team than Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin are to theirs and that b) because of his vast contributions to the game and his even vaster on-court flexibility, Duncan deserves to be on every All-Star team until the day he can no longer walk. Third: I would refer you to my argument from earlier today that the All-Star game is so much more spectacle than content that none of these previous arguments matter in the slightest.
That’s fine. But what I can’t abide is the lame argument that the third or fourth best player on the best team in the league is intrinsically more valuable than the very best player on a very bad team. I realize that, PER and WinShare and Adjusted Plus/Minus notwithstanding, there is no absolute comprehensive measure of a player’s worth, nor may there ever be. But the simplistic obsession with one incredibly imprecise stat–that being team victories–as the ultimate arbiter does a huge disservice both to the often sublime, passionate contributions of individuals to losing teams, and to the deeply complex enterprise that is winning NBA basketball games
Grabbing a stunning 23% of the available rebounds while you’re on the floor; scoring 21 points per 36 minutes with a .593 true shooting percentage as the second (or sometimes third, depending on Darko) offensive option on your team; notching an assist rate of 11.0 (better than Dirk, better than Howard and Amar’e, better than Durant)–these things are astoundingly difficult to do against NBA competition, no matter how bad your teammates are.