Basketball / Sports

Memphis Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes (12) takes a shot against New Orleans Pelicans forward Darius Miller (2) and New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn., on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (Nikki Boertman/The Commercial Appeal/MCT)

NBA All-Star selections? Should players from losing teams make the team

Kevin McHale was an NBA All-Star seven times during his Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were among the NBA's best teams during McHale's time, so he never had to worry about his worthiness of being selected because of his team's record.

Now as coach of the Houston Rockets, McHale does vote on reserves for the All-Star Game reserves. McHale isn't one to push the candidacy of players from losing teams.

"I'm not a big fan of that," McHale said. "I think you're team record has got to get involved sometimes."

Fans have already voted in as starters two players in the West (Kobe Bryant and Kevin Love) and two players in the East (Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving) from teams with losing records.

Bryant, who has played in only six games this, has said he does not plan to play in the game.

But there are several players with impressive statistics worthy of consideration from losing teams. Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins and New Orleans' Anthony Davis come to mind in the Western Conference. The situation is worse in the East where only four teams were above .500 entering Saturday.

Should Washington's John Wall, Chicago's Joakim Noah or Brooklyn's Joe Johnson be excluded simply if their teams are not above .500?

"Is it fair to those players, no, but that's kind of the way the league is," McHale said. "I've always felt the league should reward success and success is not individual success, it's team success because that's what everybody is striving for in the end, team success."

New Orleans coach Monty Williams said he will not call coaches to campaign for Davis, the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft who is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and a league-leading three blocked shots per game.

"I think we all feel like what people do on the floor is the most important," Williams said. "I have people talking to me about Anthony so I haven't had to do that. It's not something any of the coaches I've been around have done before."

Keeping a player like Davis or Cousins off the All-Star Game implies their team's fortune lies solely on them. In the case of Davis, the Pelicans have been hit with injuries to key players.

Cousins has improved his play this season, but the Kings haven't made improvements overall as a team amid roster turnover.

The Eastern Conference has been a collection of losing teams most of the season. If stars from teams below .500 were excluded Indiana, Miami, Atlanta and Toronto would be the only teams with All Stars.

Williams believes what a player does should be the ultimate factor.

"Obviously you want your guy to make it and I feel (Davis has) done enough to do so," Williams said. "What he's done on the floor speaks for itself."

Trending up -- Entering Saturday, Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant was a having one of the best January's in league history.

Durant was averaging 36.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in his first 12 games of the month. Durant was also shooting 52.4 percent, pushing the Thunder to the top of the Western Conference in Russell Westbrook's absence.

Durant's play has him looking like a contender to win his first Most Valuable Player award.

Trending down -- It was assumed the addition of Andre Iguodala would impact second-year forward Harrison Barnes. And after a solid rookie campaign for Golden State, Barnes is in the midst of a sophomore slump.

Barnes is shooting 34.8 percent and averaging 6.7 points in January.

If the Warriors to become the championship contenders they believe they are, they'll need more from Barnes.

(c)2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services




blog comments powered by Disqus