NPL Sports : Semi Ojeleye, Cedi Osman and Royce O’Neale have never started in an NBA game. Cameron Payne last played in April. Matt Costello has scored two points in his NBA career.
They’re not stars. Yet somehow, someone in an NBA locker room apparently thought they should start in this year’s All-Star Game.
Only 10 players will start in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, but 249 players — roughly half the league — were listed on at least one ballot in the player portion of the All-Star selection process. And while some of the results might suggest not everyone took it seriously, making the list seemed to leave Philadelphia’s Amir Johnson genuinely moved.
“That’s pretty cool, man,” Johnson said Thursday night when told that he got a vote. “That shows you how together we are. … It’s just everybody against the world. It’s us against everybody.”
So guys like Ojeleye, Osman, O’Neale, Payne and Costello all got a vote from at least one player. Andre Iguodala, a recent NBA Finals MVP, did not.
The league is trying a new format for the All-Star Game this season, using captains to pick the rosters. LeBron James and Stephen Curry,the leading overal vote getters from each conference, will pick their teams next week in a draft that isn’t slated to be televised. It’s part of the way the NBA is trying to make the game more competitive and relevant.
Players seem to have fun with the league’s process.
“I’m not sure who voted, but put it out there — whoever voted for me, I really appreciate it,” said 76ers guard T.J. McConnell, the proud recipient of two starter votes from players.
All-Star balloting is broken up into three parts: Fan voting counts for 50 percent, media voting 25 percent and player voting the final 25 percent. Ballots are counted, then weighted, and from there the starters are picked. And it’s important to note that what the majority of the players picked was largely in line with the results of fan and media balloting.
Players could vote for themselves. Since Johnson didn’t know he got a vote, it would be reasonable to think he didn’t go that route.
“I think it’s dope,” Johnson said after Philadelphia beat Boston. “Players do recognize who’s doing well, who’s improving around the league. You know, and it’s pretty awesome to see.”
Of the 249 players who got a starter vote, more than half — 53 percent — appeared on no more than two ballots cast.
And 249 players getting at least one vote from their peers as a starter sounds like a lot, it is, but that total is also down a bit from last season when 283 players got onto ballots.
Some other notes on the All-Star voting:
The case for manu
Much like Dwyane Wade last year, if these were olden times — of two years ago — San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili would be starting the All-Star Game.
Ginobili was second in the fan balloting among Western Conference guards, behind only Golden State’s Stephen Curry. Ginobili ranked eighth in player votes, and did not appear on any media ballots.
In this new system, with those things weighted and then factored together, Ginobili finished fourth overall in the West guard race behind only Curry, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Ginobili is a two-time All-Star, with appearances in 2005 and 2011.
Golden State’s Draymond Green got the second-most votes from fans who voted for Western Conference frontcourt players. But Green isn’t an All-Star starter, because he finished sixth in the media vote and seventh in the player vote.
“Disappointing, for sure,” Curry told reporters after the numbers were released Thursday night.
Dallas’ Zhou Qi has played a total of 75 minutes in 14 games this season, averaging 1.2 points.
But it’s a global game, with global voting, and it’s likely that he got some social-media help from basketball fans in his homeland of China. He finished 21st overall in the Western Conference frontcourt fan balloting.
Boston’s Gordon Hayward, whose season was derailed when he broke his ankle five minutes into the Celtics’ season-opener at Cleveland, wasn’t forgotten. He was picked as a starter on two player ballots, and finished 16th in the fan voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players.
A total of 99 media members invited by the league to participate returned ballots. Cleveland’s LeBron James and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only players to appear on all of their ballots, while Golden State’s Kevin Durant was on 98, Boston’s Kyrie Irving was on 96 and Houston’s James Harden was on 94.