Sports fans naturally want to be close to the action. So when fans were able to have their opinions heard by way of fan voting in 2003, fans were obviously excited. The league had a new way to bring in fans by offering some level of autonomy. Unfortunately, it may have backfired. In the 2022 NBA All-Star game, Andrew Wiggins was voted as an all-star starter. This begs the question, how much fan power is too much?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 28, 2022
The Problem with Fan Voting
Wiggins as a Starter
Andrew Wiggins has had a great year for himself. He is much improved since finding a home with the Golden State Warriors, averaging 18.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on the best shooting splits of his career. He has a case to be an all-star, but by way of the fan vote, he was able to wiggle his way into a starting spot. By the last round of fan voting, Wiggins had amassed a massive 2,644,571 fan votes, this made him #4 in voting in the Western Conference. His all-star voting numbers were boosted all over Twitter by fans that vote with a lack of broader NBA knowledge, or just to join in on the joke.
Fans have done this type of vote-gouging before. In the first round of 2017’s all-star voting campaign, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia gathered 639,765 votes. This placed him #8 leaguewide, over players like Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, and Demarcus Cousins. This prompted Adam Silver to step in and reduce the weight that fan votes held to 50%. Wiggins getting an all-star starting spot is obviously a less egregious offense, but shows that the fans aren’t always serious and should have their potential impact monitored.
At the end of the day, every all-star appearance counts the same, starter or not. However, the fans also vote on the end-of-season awards; and when submitting a vote is as simple as a retweet on Twitter, who knows if a joke vote could become the next internet movement.
If Adam Silver and league leadership decides that an Andrew Wiggins all-star start is unacceptable and want to make changes, they have options. First, they could further reduce the weight that fan votes hold. If fans held 33% of the vote, with players, coaches, and media holding the rest, it would be much more difficult for an internet movement to block a player more deserving of the spot.
More controversially, the league could decide to remove positions for all-star voting. It could be argued that Wiggins nabbed his spot for lack of better options. Paul George and Luka Doncic both walk the line between guard and forward but dealt with injuries this season. The all-star game should reflect the positionless basketball that dominates the league now. This change would’ve allowed players that were undoubtedly more deserving to earn their starting spot in the all-star game. Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, and Doncic were all listed as guards and would’ve made much more sense listed as starters next to the other mainstays in the Western Conference.
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