A few months ago, the Warriors sent out a "contract" to fans promising three things in 2012: a playoff appearance, an All-Star appearance by at least one Warrior, and that the club would win 25 games at home. Since it turns out the Warriors' big free-agent acquisition was Kwame Brown (causing an Andris Biedrins or Kwame Brown? debate), now seems like the right time to talk about something else, and focus on whether these three promises can be kept. The focus of this post will be on whether a Warrior can make the All-Star team.
If you do not want to read all this you can skip to "The Verdict".
First off, there are four assumptions made in this post:
- Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul will get voted in.
- Russell Westbrook will get picked as an All-Star by the coaches.
- Curry is the only Warrior with a chance to make the All-Star team
- Only four to five guards will make the All-Star roster. (as a reminder of how reserve candidates are chosen, coaches vote for two forwards, two guards, one center, and two other players)
An explanation for the first three assumptions: Kobe and Paul are the two most prominent guards in the Western Conference, so fans will vote them in. Westbrook is a young dominant point guard and will get chosen by the coaches as long as he averages the same stats this year as last year. For the Warriors, Curry is the only one with a chance to make it because he can both pass and shoot. Monta cannot make it because he only scores, and none of our forwards or centers has a chance.
So, assuming these three things, it leaves one or two spots on the All-Star roster (thanks to how ridiculously stacked the forward spot is) for guards. Thankfully, Deron Williams was traded to the Nets, or else he would have occupied another spot on the All-Star roster. Now, let us look at the guards who have a chance to make the All-Star roster:
First, we will first compare their per-36 stats from last season (from Basketball Reference).
Stephen Curry compares pretty well to these players, including Manu Ginobili, who was an All-Star last year. He shot ridiculously well from two point range for a guard. He was very good from three point range, and was money from the stripe. This was also with Monta Ellis taking a lot of possessions away from him. If Curry becomes the primary ball handler, as is expected, his stats will definitely take a sharp jump.
So, assuming that there is a slight drop-off in production for Nash and Ginobili due to age, statistically, Stephen Curry should be able to beat them. He is a better all-around player than Kevin Martin and Eric Gordon, and as long as they do not put up ridiculous scoring numbers, he should be able to beat them. Ty Lawson can expect to not shoot .500 from the field again as defenses key on him more, so Stephen Curry will probably have a better statistical season than him as well. Curry should be able to get better stats than all these players.
However, therein lies the problem. Coaches vote in the All-Star reserves. For the coaches, it is not all about stats. It is also about wins, losses, and intangibles. Coaches are biased towards veteran players, especially ones who lead their team's offense. They are also biased towards winning teams. For example, look at Kevin Love from last year. He put up ridiculous stats for the Timberwolves, but his production was discounted because the Timberwolves were a bad team. His team also did not have the visibility that Blake Griffin's Clippers enjoyed (another factor in voting).
Therefore, the real question should be: will the Warriors put up enough wins to get Curry into the All-Star game? Curry will have enough stats to be an All-Star, but will he have enough wins before the coaches vote in the All-Star reserves? Coaches vote on All-Stars two to three weeks before the game, so let's assume they vote on Februray 5th. Here are some stats for the games before February 5th:
Team Times Played LA Clippers 1 Bulls 1 Knicks 1 Sixers 1 Suns 1 Spurs 1 LA Lakers 1 Jazz 2 Heat 1 Magic 1 Bobcats 1 Pistons 1 Cavaliers 1 Nets 1 Pacers 1 Grizzlies 1 Trailblazers 1 Thunder 1 Kings 2
Back to backs:4
Back to back to backs: 0
Four games in five nights: 1
Home games: 12 (out of 21)
Games against losing teams in 2010-2011, excluding Clippers: 10 (6 of them are away games)
Games against teams .500 or better in 2010-2011, including Clippers: 11 (2 away)
According to this chart, the schedule stacks up unfavorably for the Warriors. About half of their games are against tough teams, and about half of their games are on the road. This roster will have to win games against tough teams, and win on the road, in order to get above .500. Plus, the Warriors' depth chart is terrible: the players backing up the starters are mostly rookies and unwanted players on one-year contracts. This does not spell well for the back-to-backs, especially the four games in five nights the Warriors will have to play. Even with a healthy David Lee, getting to a 12-9 record seems like a tough battle.
Stephen Curry will put up All-Star numbers, but the Warriors will not put up enough wins for coaches to consider him for the All-Star roster.