In February of 2014, Golden State Warriors fans — including myself — celebrated as Stephen Curry made his first ever NBA All-Star appearance.
Aside from making the 2010 NBA All-Rookie first team, he didn't have much in the way of accolades. In the three years since that first All Star appearance, Curry has accumulated as many awards as he could get his hands on, filling out his trophy cabinet at an incredible pace from scoring titles, All-NBA team appearances, All Star games, MVP awards and even an NBA Championship.
Now it's that time of year again and fans all over the world are voting for their favorite players to help decide the starting fives for the All-Star game, but does Stephen Curry's performance this season really warrant a starting spot on the All Star roster? According to the preliminary result, the fans believe that he does.
LeBron/Kyrie and KD/Curry lead first returns of #NBAAllStar Voting presented by @Verizon!— 2017 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) January 5, 2017
Vote: https://t.co/7SYpaqHa1f & NBA App. pic.twitter.com/ofvgaJERkT
Nevertheless, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have been dominating the league on a nightly basis; few players have been as impressive as those two. It's hard for me to make an argument for Curry deserving a starting spot when you look at the numbers.
As the graphic above highlights Harden and Westbrook have been better than Curry this season in almost every statistical category aside from shooting efficiency. On top of that Curry is having a "down year". Although calling it a down year might be a little harsh, he's still playing at a level comparable to, if not better than, most MVP candidates. Alas, Curry may have set the bar a little too high for himself after last year’s historic season. Of course, it doesn't help when you're playing in a golden age of point guards, especially in the Western Conference — just ask Mike Conley and Damian Lillard.
Unfortunately for Warriors fans, when you watch the players on the floor and look at the statistics (advanced or otherwise) it seems pretty clear that Harden and Westbrook are the best choices for the starting backcourt in this year’s All Star game.
But how much does it actually matter? Should Warriors fans be concerned for Curry? Should they be worried about how this affects his legacy? Is this conformation that he is indeed overrated and last season was a fluke undeserving of the MVP award?
No -- don't be ridiculous.
At best, the All Star game is a fun exhibition packed with highlights for children and young fans to gaze at with wonder. It’s a way to acknowledge the stars of the league and for those stars to show off to the world as they swagger their way through four quarters of Harlem Globetrotter-esque madness.
At worst, it’s a trivial popularity contest and barely watchable for the diehard fans who crave the competitiveness of a real game.
Whether the fan vote counts for 50% or 100%, the fact remains that this game is for the fans; I’m sure we can all agree that it is a reflection of a players’ popularity more so than their skill set (as demonstrated by the preliminary results showing Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving ranking ahead of Kyle Lowry).
This is part of the reason I find it strange that when a player is being introduced on a talk show or any other formal event they will list the All Star games alongside other accomplishments, for example a host might say;
“Please welcome the 13-time All Star – Dirk Nowitzki!” just like you'll see in this video.
I feel like it would be beneficial to use All-NBA first, second and third team appearances instead as they tend to carry more legitimacy than an All-Star game appearance. I'm not even sure why we as fans insist on listing All-Star game appearances in the same breath as genuine accolades such as MVP awards and NBA Championships.
What's even more curious about this – and the most relevant when discussing the legacy of Stephen Curry – is that when they introduce players in this fashion they never state whether or not the player started in those All-Star games; they merely acknowledge that he appeared in the All Star game X amount of times.
Dirk Nowitzki has never been voted in as an All-Star starter at any point of his career. He did start (twice) but only as replacements to injured players. And yet this doesn't dissuade us from referring to him as a thirteen-time All Star.
The list of players who have made multiple All-Star games but have never been voted in as a starter is almost endless among them are; Ray Allen, Kevin McHale, Tim Hardaway, Bill Laimbeer and Tony Parker. All great players within their own era and all NBA Champions (with the exception of Hardaway).
The one thing for all fans to remember is that it doesn’t matter who starts and who doesn’t. If Curry is voted in as a starter he will be a four-time All-Star. If he's not voted in as a starter but is selected for the bench unit guess what? He will still be a four-time All-Star.
Although it is undeniable that James Harden and Russell Westbrook are having a better season than Stephen Curry (as far as individual production goes), let's remember that the Warriors fan base has expanded. DubNation is overpopulated and the axle on the bandwagon shattered a long time ago. Due to the Warriors’ popularity there’s a good chance Curry will be voted in as a starter to the All-Star game whether he "deserves" it or not.
If these preliminary results are anything to go by there's no need for Warriors fans to panic just yet.