I know, I know. We've all heard the arguments before: Monta Ellis deserves to be an all-star because of his numbers, or Monta Ellis doesn't deserve to be an all-star because of the wins. However, there should be more to the argument than just that. I'm going to delve deeper, and I'm not once going to mention a scoring average or a Per36 average.
-First off, I strongly disagree that an all-star bid should be predicated on team success, for a simple reason: There are very few players who make their team quantifiably better. There are myriad players in the league who make their team better (and I believe that Monta Ellis is one of those people), but a minuscule number of players who can turn a bad team into a good team.
In my opinion, there are only six players in the league who would take any team to the playoffs: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. If you replaced Monta Ellis with any of these six players, I believe that the Golden State Warriors would make the playoffs. If you replaced Monta Ellis with any other player in the league, I'm no longer willing to guarantee post-season play. Does this mean that no player other than these six should be rewarded with an all-star bid? Of course not.
There is a reason that we have one MVP, and 24 all-stars. An MVP award should be predicated on wins. All-Stars should not.
Let us consider one very simple scenario: pretend that before the season, the Warriors traded Monta Ellis for Amar'e Stoudemire. Would the Warriors be a playoff team? I highly, highly, highly doubt it. So clearly one player (excepting the aforementioned six) cannot turn around our franchise. On the flip side, would the Suns be a bad team? Absolutely not! So, naturally, Monta is not a guaranteed "loser" if he could play for a different organization and win.
So ultimately, Stoudemire is being rewarded for having a two-time MVP/fellow All-Star starter and a strong, healthy supporting cast, while Monta is being reprimanded for playing with a rookie, a 6th man, and some D-leaguers. That is the difference between an All-Star starter and most likely, an All-Star snub. Does that seem fair?
Again, only six players (in my estimation), make a team an automatic playoff team, which leaves us with 18 all-stars that are merely "really good players that contribute to their team's success, however insignificant that success may be."
Gerald Wallace will possibly be an All-Star, but only because the Bobcats acquired Stephen Jackson, and thus became a .500 team (for the record, I strongly feel that Wallace should be an all-star, regardless). Josh Smith will probably be an all-star, but take him off the Hawks, and you still have a playoff team (again, I also feel that Smith should be an all-star). A quick look at Per36 stats (said I wouldn't show these, but in case you want to find them), for those who live by them, shows that Stephen Jackson's numbers this season with the Warriors are nearly identical to his numbers with Charlotte, yet somehow I hear whispers from many analysts that he should be in All-Star consideration, because Charlotte is in the playoff hunt. Remember: in basketball, it takes five to tango. (To clarify: I think team success should be factored in all-star consideration to an extent; it is, however, unfair that Mo Williams was an all-star last year, unless you consider having LeBron James as your teammate a "talent.")
-Second, the NBA has made it evident that the All-Star game is about entertainment. They made this very clear by letting Allen Iverson be named starter, and Tracy McGrady almost beat out Steve Nash, and still supporting the idea of fan-voting. If the game is about entertainment, you should have, well, the entertaining players play. Anyone who has watched a road Warriors game on TV has heard the "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" of the crowd after a spectacular spin move, or a fast break reverse lay-up. Does the NBA really think that the 90,000 fans packed into the Dallas stadium would rather see Zach Randolph or Chris Kaman than Monta Ellis? Call me biased, or maybe just call me a fan of the game. I'd sure love to see Monta, Kobe and Durant attacking the rim with reckless abandon, while LBJ, Wade, Smith, Wallace, and Dwight Howard fly out of nowhere to reject them. That sounds like an entertaining all-star game.
-Back to the debate about wins, how do you quantify a team's record, and what that means? Player A has 13 wins, playing with a rookie, a 6th man, a D-League, and in the Western Conference, far superior to the East in terms of depth. Player B has 23 wins, playing with a highly-touted 2nd year, a former all-star, a healthy roster, and in the Eastern Conference. How can you quantify how much more impressive Player B is than Player A, other than a few stats (eerily similar), and watching them play? In case you haven't guessed, Player B is Dwyane Wade. By my estimation, playing in the Eastern conference gives the W's another three wins. Having a healthy, former All-Star Center gives them another two wins. Having a healthy supporting cast gives them another two wins. that puts them the Monta at 20 wins, to D-Wade's 23.
Obviously, I hope that Monta one day can turn any team into a playoff team, and truly join the league's elite as one of the best five or six players in the league; but he should not be punished for it, when 18 other players are being rewarded.
Monta Ellis would be an All-Star if we had traded him for Ray Allen.
Monta Ellis would be an All-Star if we had acquired Amar'e Stoudemire to play beside him.
Monta Ellis would be an All-Star if we had never gotten rid of Baron Davis.
So sure, critics, keep claiming that "Monta Ellis doesn't make his team better." But just remember: If he had Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum on his side, you'd be gushing about how good the Warriors are, and how "Monta Ellis is a huge reason for that success."
Does that seem fair?