New York Knicks swingman and scoring threat off the bench J.R. Smith is having a career year. He is in a race for the Sixth Man of the Year award with another deadly scorer out in L.A Jamal Crawford. Both players have been key in their teams’ fantastic early season success. Smith has won games for the Knicks with clutch shots and played big minutes when superstar Carmelo Anthony was unavailable.
This being said, does Smith deserve to be named to the All-Star team and play in Houston this year?
The All-Star game, just like in every sport, is a popularity contest. I personally think it should be changed to half the fan vote and half the sports writers’ votes. Let’s take baseball for example, where the BBWA takes All-Star game appearances largely into account for the Hall of Fame. If the fans don’t really know the player or they usually just vote for the big names and most popular players. I’m not saying these players don’t deserve it since they obviously do, but some low-key players who are having all-star caliber seasons usually don’t receive the honor.
Twelve players from each conference get to call themselves All-Stars every season. In the East, you have five players they are set in stone All-Stars: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. These five players will get the fan vote since they are some of the league’s most popular players, but they do deserve it. So that’s almost half the team right there. The next three spots will probably go like this; Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, Deron plays in a big market, Bosh is part of the Big Three in Miami, and Kyrie is exploding onto the NBA scene.
This leaves 4 more spots to make the team. As of December 4th, J.R. Smith wasn’t even in the top 10 for backcourt players. I believe the next 4 spots should go to: Anderson Varejao, Tyson Chandler, Paul Pierce, and Luol Deng. With the expansion of voting now on social media, it makes it even harder for bench players like Smith to make the team since the casual NBA fan will be casting their vote to the superstar names.
Look in the Western Conference for example, where Jeremy Lin is third in the backcourt voting and actually in front of his teammate James Harden. If you know anything about the NBA this season you know that Harden is having an amazing season and a much better season than Lin, but Lin still has more votes.
You can make a case that Smith deserves to be on the All-Star team this year, but I personally don’t believe he does. He still shoots way too much and has been inconsistent. He shouldn’t get the nod over players like Irving, Williams, Piece, Josh Smith, Deng, or Chandler.
Smith is essential to the Knicks success this season, but he is not an All-Star.