Domantas Sabonis deserved to be a starter in the 2023 All-Star Game. But as the man says, deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
The simple facts:
Domantas Sabonis: 18.4 PTS, 12.4 RBS, 7.3 AST
Zion Williamson: 26.0 PTS, 7.0 RBS, 4.6 AST
But perhaps the most vital stat:
Domantas Sabonis: 45 games
Zion Williamson: 29 games
Zion is a truly incredible talent. But he’s been plagued by injury issues and has missed 40% of his team’s games this season. He may not even be available to play in the All-Star game. Based on current rules (following the next highest voted player), Anthony Davis would be next in line. Davis, when healthy, has been great this season, but has also only played in 26 games. Next up would be Lauri Markkanen, who absolutely deserves an all-star nod this season.
The problem? It should have been Nikola Jokic, Lauri, and Sabonis. But LeBron James was never going to be a reserve based on the current All-Star selection criteria.
You see, deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
Now, Sabonis is almost certainly a lock for the All-Star reserves. And salary incentives and Hall of Fame considerations don’t really differentiate between starters and reserves. Sabonis will be an All-Star this season, even if he’s not in his rightful spot as a starter.
Of note, Tyrese Haliburton also deserved a starting nod in the East that he did not get. He’ll be a shoe-in as a reserve, even if his recent injury prevents him from playing.
But the real question mark at this point will be De’Aaron Fox.
Let’s be very clear:
De’Aaron Fox deserves to be an All-Star
But again. Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.
Fox will have a challenging path to his first All-Star berth. Fox played through injuries and illness in late November and early December, and those games hurt his averages. Perhaps he should have simply sat out to preserve his stats, as so many other have done. But no, Fox played as long as he could before finally resting for all of two (2) games.
Since then, dating back to December 13th, Fox is averaging 24.9 points, 6.6 assist, and 3.7 rebounds per game. He’s an assassin in the fourth quarter, and a guaranteed finalist for Clutch Player Of The Year.
All Star Reserves will be announced on February 2nd, one week from now. I’m already preparing myself for Fox’s snub, and presuming that the NBA will right this wrong by naming Fox as an injury replacement.
At the end of the day, how you make the squad isn’t important. DeMarcus Cousins’ first All-Star appearance was as an injury replacement. One of Sabonis’ two All-Star appearances was as an injury replacement. Once you’re there, you’re always a player who made the All-Star game, and that (absurdly) plays a huge factor in making future All-Star games.
Domantas Sabonis deserves an All-Star bid, as does De’Aaron Fox. We’ll have to wait and see if they receive their proper recognition.
Because as the man says, and as today’s results confirm, deserve’s got nothing to do with it.