All Star voting is officially open as of Christmastime and it is your civic and patriotic duty as a New Zealander to submit those cheeky ballots for Steven Adams as often as humanly possible… which is once per day (per email addy) across three different avenues. There’s the ol’ google search NBA Vote. There’s the NBA App. There’s NBA.com. Voting runs through until January 21 in the USA and Steven Adams needs your help.
One thing that sucks is that there’s no more #NBAVote, so you can’t just chuck a cheeky retweet on Twitter anymore, which is a hassle but it does get rid of some of the spam voting. You’ve gotta work to get those ballots counted now, which might just work in our favour. A few years ago the European nation of Georgia (population 3.7 million) mobilised in exactly the way that Aotearoa needs to do for its boy to almost put Zaza Pachulia into the All Stars. That was in 2016 when the five starters were chosen by straight up fan votes with the various coaches voting to fill out the bench for each conferences. And Zaza, with a little help from the country of Georgia and, for some reason, Wyclef Jean, finished 40,000 votes ahead of Draymond Green and only missed out because Kawhi Leonard qualified as a frontcourt player.
Hence the NBA changed the voting rules for the next two seasons and made it a mix of 50% fan vote, 25% media vote and 25% player vote, with the coaches again selecting the reserves. Once more Zaza Pachulia ran it close. In fact he got so many votes in 2017 that he finished second amongst Western Conference frontcourt candidates and would have been a starter were it not for players and fans dropping him way back down there to sixth on that list and the coaches gave him no respect at all. Which, for a dude who was playing 18 minutes per game, was no great loss to the All Star Game spectacle.
But it proves that there is a way. It can be done. It’ll be harder with the stricter voting methods but that does whittle out the Russian Bot spamming and we already know that casual Americans don’t do daily discipline all that well. Plus Steven Adams does actually have a realistic case. Zaza was averaging a miniscule 6 points and 6 rebounds per game that 2016-17 season whereas Steven Adams is currently scrapping his way to career highs in basically every relevant category. He’s playing 34 minutes per game and averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, one and a half assists and steals each with just 2.3 fouls. All of those numbers are personal bests. He’s also second in the league in defensive win shares as well as being top ten in offensive rating and true shooting percentage.
Those numbers are enough to make a justifiable case, for sure. The West is stacked with frontcourt talent and we’ll get to that in a second but Adams is holding his own. His team is winning games and he’s been a huge part of that.
What he doesn’t have is the multi-year voting novelty that got Zaza so close. Last season Adams earned 360,822 fan votes which was good for eleventh in those standings. He also got 27 votes from his peers, good for tenth, and was not among the eight players who got media votes (the media are always way more serious about their voting thus way more in consensus). All of that had him finishing in eleventh amongst Western Conference frontcourt players. Not bad at all, to be fair, but not anywhere close to making the roster.
Then again if we can pump up the fan votes then the rest may follow. We know that fellow players appreciate the unheralded things that Stevie does to help his team win basketball games and we also know that players are erratic with their All Star votes so he could sneak on in there with enough loving to be in contention. The bigger problem is reeling in those media votes because the media are much harder to fool.
And it would need to be a fooling, since keeping it all the way one hundred here we can make a case for him as a fringe All Star but there’s just no way in the world that he deserves to be a starter amongst the absolute greatest few players in the world. Future Hall of Famers the lot of them. There is a free spot amongst the starters in the West with Boogie Cousins out of action… but that’ll surely be taken by LeBron James who is on that Kobe Bryant level where he’ll never not be voted in. That leaves Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis to overcome and, let’s be honest, that’s not going to be an accurate representation if it does, by some miracle, truly happen.
Of the players that finished ahead of Steve last time out we won’t have to worry about Kawhi Leonard or Carmelo Anthony… but we do have to worry about Nikola Jokic, Marc Gasol, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Luka Doncic and a few others. And Steve has to be top three on that list for the votes to matter. A list that also includes Paul George, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tobias Harris, DeMar DeRozan and Draymond Green. The voting only counts for the starting five and beyond that it’s up to the coaches. Steven Adams might shoot up the fan votes. He might get lucky in the player votes. But he won’t under any circumstances do enough to get more than maybe one pesky media vote and for all three to happen enough to overcome all but two of the hombres named in the last two paragraphs is about as likely as Steven Adams shooting a three pointer in his next game (except at least we know he can, in theory, shoot three pointers).
Ah but that doesn’t mean I’m suggesting we abandon the mass voting experiment. Oh no, fair squires, quite the contrary.
NBA All Star movements are so much about narratives and for people to think of Steven Adams like an All Star we need to treat him like an All Star. That mindset has never been closer to reality than right now. We need people to be talking about Steven Adams as an All Star, even if it’s only as an outside possibility. Anything that gets ‘Steven Adams’ and ‘All Star’ in the same thought process is a win. Getting him in the top five or so of fan voting would do the trick more than well enough, getting media types to consider how that tag suits him and put the idea out into the world to the masses before the reserves are selected. Because if he gets close enough to enter the conversation then we might just get some help from the folks that appreciate a selfless player like Steven Adams most of all… the coaches.
Those coaches pick seven All Star reserves for their Conferences. Three frontcourts, two backcourts and two wildcards from either. So let’s cut the difference and say there’ll be seven Western Conference All Stars from the frontcourt. Here is a selection of the most likely candidates…
LeBron James (LAL) – The King and an absolute lock for the rest of his career.
Anthony Davis (NOP) – Second in the league in scoring in what’s likely his last season in New Orleans.
Kevin Durant (GSW) – A little up and down like his team this season but only by his incredible standards and still scoring like an elite dude.
Paul George (OKC) – The best player on the Thunder this season, killing it on both ends.
Nikola Jokic (DEN) – The most skilled big man in the game, dishing 7.5 assists per game. Also a favourite of the NBA media so his case is a strong one.
Rudy Gobert (UTA) – The French Rejection is a DPOY candidate every season and is having his best offensive season yet, though the Jazz have taken a tumble this term.
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) – Bouncing back since Butler was traded, a first-time All Star last year.
Draymond Green (GSW) – He’s Draymond Green. I get the feeling he misses out this time though.
Marc Gasol (MEM) – Popping threes and doing what he always did on defence, Gasol has surged back with a season of a quality many people weren’t sure he was still capable of.
LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS) – Same old LMA doing what he always does.
DeMar DeRozan (SAS) – More of a shooting guard but just in case. A bulk scorer though his team’s been a bit mud so far.
Tobias Harris (LAC) – The main man leading the way for the unexpectedly amazing Clippers… although things have gotten much tougher for the Clips lately.
Luka Doncic (DAL) – The dead set Rookie of the Year with the sexy step-back. Extremely rare for a rook to make the ASG, Blake Griffin was the last one, but then most NBA rookies aren’t this good.
Along with James, Davis and Durant as starters, I reckon Paul George and Nikola Jokic are guarantees in the side as well. The last 1-3 picks are up in the air. Let’s say that their teams’ respective struggles in the win column harm Gobert and Aldridge. Let’s say that Towns suffers from the Jimmy Butler fallout (in reputation if not in production). Let’s say Doncic doesn’t feel the love as a rookie. Then look at who is left and we’re in with a chance with Steven Adams.
Nah but most likely we’re looking at a situation where Steven Adams is a bloke mentioned in passing as a snub or a near miss at the end of articles just like this one after missing out. As great as he’s playing he’s still on the outside looking in. He’s the third best player on his own team which never goes too well, you sorta need to be the best team in the league to get that degree of respect. There’s a lot of things counting against him in this quest and he’s not about to go campaigning for his own fine self any time soon either.
I mean, ask him. He honestly does not care one portion of an iota of a bit…
But keep on voting for him all the same because Old Mate needs to know that New Zealand’s got his back and the rest of these NBA jokers oughta be singing from that hymn sheet too, why not? In the very least we can make sure he gets more All Star votes than Aussie Ben Simmons.
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