Let’s Be Honest, Aldridge Doesn’t Deserve Nod
As admirable as his play has been, it’s difficult to make a case that LaMarcus Aldridge deserved an All-Star selection.
Aldridge was left out when reserves for the game were announced Thursday. The big men who are reserves for the Western Conference: Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin. The snubs: Aldridge, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph.
— Out of those seven candidates, Aldridge ranks seventh in Player Efficiency Rating. Here is the PER for each player, with their overall league ranking: Love 24.6 (6); Nowitzki 24.0 (8); Griffin 23.3 (12); Gasol 23.2 (14); Randolph 21.9 (19); Duncan 21.4 (24); Aldridge 20.8 (27).
PER is a per-minute stat, so it doesn’t account for the fact that Aldridge is averaging 39.3 minutes while Duncan is playing 29.3. As a catch-all stat, it is imperfect, but it’s somewhat helpful in comparing players. And Aldridge is well behind all the other guys.
On the other hand: In another catch-all stat — John Hollinger’s “Value Added” — Aldridge ranks fourth out of that group. He’s behind Love, Gasol, and Griffin, but ahead of Randolph, Nowitzki, and Duncan.
— Duncan is averaging career lows in points and rebounds, and he was eaten alive just last week as Aldridge scored 40 points in a win over the Spurs. But: The Spurs have the best record in the league, and Duncan has been their best or second-best player.
And HE’S TIM DUNCAN! Do you really need more credentials than that? Duncan is one of the 10 greatest players in the history of the game. As long as he remains effective — even if he’s not dominant — he deserves an All-Star spot.
— Gasol is the second-best player for the two-time defending champions, who have the second-best record in the conference. It seems reasonable for such a team to have two players on the squad. Gasol is averaging 18.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, and shooting .515.
— Nowitzki is, by far, the best player on the third best team in the West. He’s 10th in the league in scoring and is shooting .525 from the field.
— Griffin is averaging more points, more rebounds, and shooting at a higher percentage than Aldridge, with significant advantages in each category. Not to mention his off-the-charts electrifyingness (I made up a word).
— Love’s team is 11-37. Has anybody bothered to look up the last time a team that bad had an All-Star? But Love’s individual numbers are jaw-dropping. If somebody wants to argue that Aldridge should be ahead of Love because of his team’s relative success, I can buy that. I mean, 11-37 is awful. But I also can understand if you take Love ahead of Aldridge.
— Based on the numbers, Randolph probably should rank ahead of Aldridge. But would you really want Zach Randolph on your team instead of LaMarcus Aldridge? Would anybody? Even for an All-Star Game? We’ll rank Aldridge ahead of Randolph on principle alone.
So, of those seven players, with four spots available, I would rank Aldridge sixth. But he still might have a shot at an All-Star berth. The Commissioner’s office will name one replacement — for injured Yao Ming, who was selected as a starter. And they might need an additional replacement — if starter Carmelo Anthony gets traded to the Eastern Conference.