The annual NBA All-Star fan voting began earlier this month and the NBA released the initial ballot numbers on December 12, which showed three Indiana Pacers among the Top 10 in the backcourt and front court. Paul George (No. 2 in front court voting) and Roy Hibbert (No. 4 in front court voting) have basically solidified their spot on the Eastern Conference squad, but will anyone else join them?
George Hill is the other Pacer who made the initial list, coming in eighth in the backcourt. Hill making the Top 10 was pretty surprising to see, especially with the way Lance Stephenson has been playing this season, but then you remember the voting is based on popularity and Hill is very popular in Indiana.
For Hill to make the squad he would need to crack the Top 5, and there’s a very slim chance he does so, mainly because he would need to pass big name players like Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. And Hill would need to be in the Top 5 to essentially be guaranteed a spot on the team.
Stephenson, on the other hand, should be among the Top 10 backcourt players when the updated rankings are released at the end of the month. So far through 28 games, Stephenson has averaged 13.4 points, 5.1 assists and 6.7 rebounds. Add in the three triple-doubles — no one else has more than one — and it’s easy to see Stephenson has played like an All-Star this season, especially over the likes of Rondo, Allen, Williams, Derrick Rose, and arguably John Wall. Stephenson should be ranked third at the end of the month, but he’ll be lucky to make the list.
That’s where the biggest flaw in the system shines. The All-Star game should be based on production, not popularity. Guys like Rondo, Rose and Kobe Bryant shouldn’t be even close to the Top 10 because they either haven’t played all season or have played in 10 games or less. Sadly the NBA will never change the system, but that’s an argument for another time.
The other two Pacers who would have a chance to make the team would be David West and Danny Granger. West is having a solid year, but it’s hard to say he’s having an All-Star season. Granger has played in only three games this year, so neither of them have much of a chance.
George is a lock to start, Hibbert is a lock at reserve, Hill has a chance and Stephenson should be contending for a starting spot. Only time and fan voting will tell, but the Pacers should field at least three players in the All-Star game.