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All-Star Selections: 3
2016-17 Per-Game Stats: 23.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.1 steals, 46.1 percent shooting
Like we needed more evidence the All-Star voting process has no investment in defensive credentials.
There were six real candidates to rep the East’s starting backcourt: DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker and John Wall. With DeRozan and Irving getting the nod, the two least deserving options snagged the honor.
Let’s be clear: Irving is a defense’s worst nightmare. He is hot fire when spotting up and torches opposing players in one-on-one situations. That malleability has aided his career-high scoring clip while playing beside LeBron James.
People are prone to getting Irving’s role twisted. They unfairly measure him against the Association’s other elite point guards, when he’s really a combo guard this side of James’ return. And yet, he assists on more than 29.3 percent of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ buckets when on the floor—a rate right in line with those from Damian Lillard, Lowry and Walker.
But even if the All-Star game isn’t about defense, the goal should be to reward the most elite talent. And Irving, while incredible at what he does best (scoring), falls short as a facilitator and defender when pitted against his foremost peers.
At least one of these two starting joints should have gone to Lowry, the best guard in the East. Irving, like DeRozan before him, must be graded accordingly—a worthy All-Star reserve masquerading as a starter.