PHOENIX — Perhaps because the Suns have played sub-.500 basketball for the majority of the season, seven-time All-Star Steve Nash did not receive an invitation to the 2011 All-Star Game despite another fantastic statistical season.
Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook got the call at the point guard spot behind starting point guard Chris Paul in a loaded Western Conference at the one spot.
Nash, who will turn 37 on Monday, is averaging 16.8 points and 11.1 assists per game, numbers that compare favorably to his 2004-05 MVP season. He’s also shooting 52.6 percent from the floor, the second best mark of his career, to go with 40.8 percent three-point shooting and 91.6 percent shooting from the line.
Nash ranks 11th in PER (23.64), behind Westbrook but ahead of Williams, 11th in adjusted +/- with a positive rating of 11.61 (behind Williams but ahead of Westbrook) and second in unadjusted +/- in the entire league (16.84) behind only Dallas All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
Nash leads all point guards in true shooting (63.7 percent), ranks fourth in assist ratio (ahead of both Westbrook and Williams) and ranks fifth in both Value Added (280.7) and Wins Added (9.4) at the position, behind CP3, Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Williams. Nash also ranks second in Wins Produced among point guards (and 10th overall) behind only Paul, as he’s produced 10.1 wins for Phoenix.
All these numbers certainly make Nash a deserving candidate for the All-Star Game, yet Williams and Westbrook are every bit as deserving as well.
This might end up being a moot point, as Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Nash is “a strong favorite” to replace the injured Yao Ming on the roster. Although such a move would leave the West point guard heavy, it’s only right for the universe to get to witness one game of Nash working the pick-and-roll with Blake Griffin, and his stats make him every bit an All-Star.
The biggest reason Westbrook and Williams got the call over Two Time has got to be each of their respective teams’ place in the standings. The Thunder and Jazz are bonafide playoff teams while the Suns sit 10th behind the Memphis Grizzlies, having been under .500 throughout the voting period.
“Steve I think should always be an All-Star,” head coach Alvin Gentry said before Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee. “We’ll see how that works out. I think sometimes when you have the start we’ve had to the season and haven’t won as many games as you anticipated sometimes I think that might hurt him a little bit. I think it’s going to be really tough.”
Gentry seemed to understand that this would ultimately be Nash’s fate, and perhaps this is for the better. Williams and Westbrook are in their 20s, while the soon-to-be 37-year-old Nash could certainly use a couple days off to recharge for the Suns’ stretch run.
Not every All-Star break needs to be as wild as what Nash experienced last February when he lit the Olympic flame, won the Skills Challenge and then started the All-Star Game.
TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott described the snub like this:
The two-time MVP is doing just about everything as well as he ever did. Now the supporting cast, and the W-L record, are both far less impressive. Should that matter? Yes, of course, in some ways. The challenge to every NBA player is to win. On the other hand, if not an All-Star berth, what way is there to honor the otherworldly play of an aging hero doomed by his owner’s questionable leadership? Hollinger: “What we’re basically saying is that Nash was responsible for having Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion on his team, and now it’s his fault that they’re gone.”
After being the only squad to boast a pair of All-Star starters last year (Nash and Amare), this year the Suns will have no stars in the game for the first time since 2004 unless Nash is an injury replacement. Such is life for a sub.-500 team, territory this franchise has not seen since Nash rejoined the franchise and started winning MVPs.
Although Nash’s numbers paint the picture of a player who is every bit the All-Star he’s been the rest of this decade, in such a competitive conference for All-Star spots the Suns’ losing record likely prevented his inclusion.
So while it’s fair to complain about Nash not making the All-Star team, it’s tough to feel too bad about it when every player who made it was very deserving as well.
Zabian Dowdell, however, was selected for the All-Star Game. The D-League All-Star Game, that is. He can only participate if he’s on a D-League team, which means I don’t think he would mind one bit missing out on that experience if the Suns sign him for the rest of the season.
Dowdell averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists per contest in 18 games for Tulsa.
Tags: Steve Nash