The All-Star popularity contest

It is finally February! Everyone is probably just now realizing that it is 2014, right? Maybe they are about to give up on that far-fetched New Year’s resolution, or possibly they are thinking about who you are going to buy that batch of flowers for on that special day.

Regardless of your plans for February, the true hype in February is the long- awaited NBA All-Star Game just around the corner, which everyone knows is the real reason for February.

Every year, fans vote on who they think are the top basketball players in each conference and who should play on the front lines of each team. In the process of choosing the All-Stars, many underrated players are easily overlooked and never given the chance to play. Usually, it is the small-market, non-flashy, younger guys, or good players on bad teams that do not make the cut.

As you can probably guess, players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James are quickly added to the infamous roster. These big name players are voted on each year by nearly everyone that has ever watched NBA.

But why are these players voted in every season? Heck, Kobe has only played 6 games this season, so is there not a more reasonable pick for the All-Star seat? Here are some alternative players who should have been given more consideration.

PG Ty Lawson, Nuggets: Lawson is caught in what is often called a positional logjam. The NBA is filled with outstanding point guards like Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Jeremy Lin, Russell Westbrook, and more.

NCAA Championship Game: Michigan State Spartans v North Carolina Tar Heels

Despite only being in the league for a minor five years, Lawson has a 21.1 Player Efficiency rating, better than any point guard in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, he is one of only four players to average at least 18 points and 7 assists a game.

SG Arron Afflalo, Magic: Afflalo is not exactly in a logjam, like Lawson. However, the simple fact that he is an unrecognized name and an off-radar team. It was also questioned whether Afflalo would be able to fill the shoes in Orlando when he was traded in 2012.

The answer so far has been a solid ‘yes.’ Averaging 21.6 points puts him among the league’s top 10. Also, he scored over 10 points for 24 straight games, which is his longest career streak. Orlando’s sorry record should not hold Afflalo from selection as an All-Star reserve.

PF Serge Ibaka, Thunder: Ibaka is stuck in a saddening third-wheel position over in Oklahoma City, falling shortly behind one of the league’s most popular duos, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Even following Westbrook’s tragic knee injury in December, Serge Ibaka is easily overlooked when standing next to the powerhouse at OKC. Nevertheless, Ibaka hits his career high this season with a 51.4 shooting percentage and is also averaging 14.6 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. Considering those stats, Serge Ibaka rises well over the average snubs in the NBA.

Everyone deserves to be rewarded for outstanding performances. Many of the players who were picked for the All-Star game are very talented and deserve to be playing on the 16th.

However, voters need to promote more young talented guys to play in the All-Star game instead of all these old players with familiar names. Maybe then the All-Star game would be less of a popularity contest.

– Andrew Freeman, Contributing Writer

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