When the latest All-Star votes were released and Andre Drummond trailed Carmelo Anthony as a starter for the Eastern Conference, the only surprise was that it took six weeks for Carmelo fans to take seriously the Andre Drummond threat.
Fan voting is the whipping boy for everything wrong with the exhibition game. But contrary to the cliched analysis, being well liked by a wide base of NBA fans doesn’t secure a starting spot. You have to be popular and you have to be extraordinary. While Carmelo Anthony is having a good year-not a great year- Andre Drummond has been the best center in the NBA. It’s been eye-opening because Drummond’s ascension into the elite has only taken four years. He’s doing it in a league in which dominant centers are mostly extinct.
|Drummond or Carmelo?||Points||Field Goal %||Rebounds||PER|
|Andre Drummond, 2015-16||17.8||52.9%||15.3||23.3|
|Carmelo Anthony, 2015-16||21,6||43.7%||7.6||21.4|
That Drummond plays in Detroit, and Carmelo plays in New York, only makes it more likely that Drummond, regardless of what he has earned with his 20 rebound nights, won’t be a starter. In the latest tally, he is 7,000 votes in the rear. Drummond fans have to get busy.
This is all possible because the NBA changed the All-Star rules several years ago and eliminated the center position. Instead, the voters choose “frontcourt” players. The Competition Committee gave this change the green light in 2012. In explaining why, VP of Basketball Operations, Stu Jackson said:
“Having a center is the only specific position that was singled out on the ballot. It just seemed a little outdated and didn’t represent the way our game has evolved.”
Evolved, meaning the league has gotten smaller, has gone to an outside-inside style over the 40 year inside-outside dominance. Since the change of rule, only one true center has cracked the starting lineup: Dwight Howard. Howard hasn’t been an All-Star starter in three years.
Howard’s boss, Darryl Morey, was a little ticked at the rule change when it was announced and threw in some gender bias to make his point.
“NBA All-Star voting process set up well for Iowa high school girls basketball. Offense only and only guards and forwards.”
This is the All-Star culture Andre Drummond and his fans have to acknowledge and accept. The rule is the rule. If they want Andre Drummond in the game as a starter, then they should do what Draymond Green’s fans did to get him past Kawhi Leonard. Green was trailing and then his fans went on a mission to surge him past Leonard. Green currently has a 12,000 vote lead. His fans were just more aggressive about it.
Fair or not, fan voting is the way the NBA makes the event inclusive. The All-Star game is a corporate event with ticket prices far outside the range of the average fan. The way fans make their impact is by selecting the starting group.
It’s not like Drummond isn’t going to be an All-Star. He is. But being a starter has its rewards. It means you have arrived, not just as a player, but as one of the few who dominate the sport and are recognized by the fans for doing so. Yes, the same starters make the All-Star team year in and year out. They are the league’s most exceptional. That is why Drummond breaking through as one of the NBA’s 10 best was a huge accomplishment.
All is not lost. Drummond’s fans can still get him in as a starter. Kyle Lowry once made up 100,000 votes in a week. Voting ends Monday. Starters will be announced next Thursday on TNT.
photo via llananba