All-Star voting in the NBA is a fickle affair. It is a world where name recognition and star power can get someone as many votes as gaudy statistics. A system where Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade start year after year ahead of much more deserving candidates. Celtics star Isaiah Thomas cut through the fog last year making the Eastern Conference All-Stars for the first time. This year, headlines across Boston newspapers should read, Isaiah Thomas: All-Star Starter.
The most recent All-Star ballot results were released on Thursday with Kyrie Irving and Wade leading for Eastern Conference guards. The voting for the NBA All-Star game has changed from years past.
Isaiah Thomas: All-Star Starter
Previously, fan voting accounted for 100 percent of the vote for starters. This season the fan vote accounts for 50 percent, and votes from the media and players account for 25 percent each. The changes to the voting gives Thomas a decent chance, although his chances don’t look too promising. Irving and Wade are more headline-grabbing names that always garner tons of fan votes, warranted or not. Thomas will have to score well with the media and players to jump up the list.
Just in terms of scoring average, Wade is ninth among Eastern Conference guards. He also averages under four assists and five rebounds per game. To go with under 20 points and unspectacular efficiency numbers, Wade doesn’t deserve an All-Star spot. Irving on the other hand, with his nearly 24 PPG and six assists, has an argument to be an All-Star, just not ahead of Thomas. Thomas is scoring roughly six more PPG than any other point guard in the East. In fact, he has the highest scoring average of any guard in his conference, not just point guards.
Thomas’s 28.2/6.2/2.7 stat line is impressive, but the Celtics point guard possesses other phenomenal numbers. Bolstering his case, Thomas is second in the East among all players in Player Efficiency rating, only trailing Giannis Antetokounmpo. His mark of 26.7 is better than counterparts John Wall, Irving, and Kyle Lowry. He is also fourth in the NBA in Offensive Win Shares, only trailing Lowry for Eastern Conference guards. Even with poor defensive ratings, Thomas is still 12th in the NBA in Overall Win Shares, again only behind Lowry for guards in the East. Even better, in Win Shares per 48 minutes, Thomas actually grades out better than Lowry. Thomas is also at his best when it matters most, as he is at the top of the NBA in fourth quarter scoring.
The Competition for Thomas
The East is loaded with All-Star worthy point guards. Along with the aforementioned Thomas, Lowry, Wall, and Irving, a case could also be made for Kemba Walker as well. While better on the defensive end, Wall and Walker lack Thomas’s offensive numbers to warrant selection over him. Their teams are also behind the Celtics in the standings. Even with the Cavaliers record, Irving is equally as bad, if not worse than Thomas on defense and also lacks his offensive numbers. Lowry is the only point guard who should be slotted ahead of Thomas for a starting guard spot. Lowry is the best of the all-star worthy point guards on defense and his shooting and efficiency numbers are off the charts. The Raptors point guard is top 10 in the NBA in win shares, offensive rating, true shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage.
Shooting guards in the East are lacking with only DeMar DeRozan being a clear-cut selection. This means that two point guards have a chance to start at the two guard slots, bettering Thomas’s chances for a starting gig. Thomas will make the All-Star team again, but he has earned the right to be a starter.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – DECEMBER 03: Isaiah Thomas (L) of Boston Celtics struggles for the ball with Rudy Gay (R) of Sacramento Kings during the NBA Regular Season basketball game between Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics at the Mexico City Arena on December 03, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)