Why Isn't Kyle Lowry Starting in the NBA All-Star Game?
Sometimes, popularity is everything. If you didn't believe that before, you should now.
With the NBA All-Star votes tallied, the media, fans and players selected Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan to represent the Eastern Conference guards in the 2017 All-Star Game. Here's exactly how the votes shook out.
DeRozan made the cut over Isaiah Thomas by a mere tiebreaker, in receiving more fan votes than IT2. That's a whole different discussion entirely, but Lowry watched as his Toronto Raptors teammate was picked over him. Contrary to popular belief, however, there's no need to compare the two. And there's certainly an argument for either one -- if not, both -- to start in the game.
The comparison isn't necessary because in a vacuum, Lowry has been outstanding and he should still be a lock for the team. His numbers are worth more than an All-Star game start -- they're worth MVP consideration.
Why? Take a look at the following two seasons and see what the difference is between them.
Of course, you know that one of these two seasons is Lowry's 2016-17 to this point. But, what's the other and which is which?
This player, and his season, impressed all. He ranked sixth in points per game, first in three-point field goals, sixth in assists per game and fourth in steals per game.
In 80 games, he earned 15.7 win shares at a clip of .288 per 48 minutes. Taken over 100 possessions, he produced 122 points while limiting his opponent to 101 points for an overall net rating of 21.
The outcome? He was voted an All-Star game starter, a unanimous First-Team All-NBA selection and the league's most valuable player. The fruit of his efforts was an NBA title.
If you cheated, you probably figured out who Season A belongs to and when it took place. If you didn't depart to do a quick research query (thank you), here's what is behind door number two.
These two seasons are nearly identical on a per-game basis. This player also performed admirably, with ranks of 20th in points per game, fourth in three-point makes, ninth in assists per game and 13th in steals.
By placing himself among the top 20 players in so many categories, this point guard rated 5th and 10th in win shares (7.4) and win shares per 48 (.231), respectively. His defensive rating of 109 wasn't among the top players, but his offensive rating of 126 was fifth. Per 100 possessions, he out-produced his opponent by 17 points.
What did he get? Well, he didn't start the All-Star Game, wasn't even considered for the MVP and was labeled the second-best player on his team.
You get the picture by now. Season A is Stephen Curry's 2014-15 MVP season and Season B is Lowry's current season to date. Sure, it is uncertain where Lowry's season will wind up. For all we know, Toronto could make it to -- or even win -- the Finals, and Lowry could be voted First-Team All-NBA.
We can't say Lowry won't receive some respect for this performance just yet. But, midway through the season, the gap in what both have earned or garnered in their individual seasons should not be as vast as it is.
The influence of Curry's popularity is apparent. Lowry is victim to playing outside the United States, among many other factors.
If not for that, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. The media, fans and players would have had no choice but to vote Lowry in. After all, you could argue that Lowry's having as good a season as almost anyone in the NBA or the Eastern Conference. His numbers are just short, yet so similar to a set of lofty MVP-caliber standards.
So, Kyle Lowry isn't an All-Star starter simply because he's Kyle Lowry.