The NBA has announced the All-Star Game reserves. For the East:
You’ll note that none of these men play for the Chicago Bulls. You’ll also note that, except for Horford, they all rank below Carlos Boozer in Player Efficiency Rating (and Big Al is only two spots up on Boozington).
Now, you could talk stats, like 19.8 PPG and 10.2 RPG, or the fact that Carlos ranks 8th in FGP (54.4) and a shocking 5th in Defensive Rating (97.2). But, for my money, the most telling numbers are these: 11-7 and 23-7.
Those are Chicago’s win-loss records without Boozer and with him. In the 18 games he’s missed, the Bulls have won 61 percent of their games. In the 30 games he’s played, the team has a winning percentage of nearly 77 percent.
I’d say that’s meaningful. But, then, I didn’t get a vote.
The bottom line seems to be that Boozer has missed too many games this season to earn an All-Star selection. Of course, missing games didn’t seem to hurt Kevin Garnett’s case, but whatever.
As for Luol Deng, well, he’s had a fantastic season and his impact on the team is without question. But his stats — particularly his PER of 15.2, which rates him as a “pretty good player” — just don’t meet the standard All-Star criteria (even if Tim Duncan made it in despite averaging a career-low 13.5 PPG on 48 percent shooting).
Anyway, here’s a smattering of other thoughts on the subject:
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “On Thursday, when the Bulls failed to land further All-Star recognition, Derrick Rose’s most valuable player candidacy received more legitimacy. That’s at least one rationalization for how the 31-18 Hawks placed Joe Johnson and Al Horford among the seven Eastern Conference reserves while Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer weren’t voted in by coaches for the 34-14 Bulls. Chris Bosh joined starters — who are voted in by fans — Dwyane Wade and LeBron James for the 34-14 Heat, while the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics, not surprisingly, placed four reserves into the Feb. 20 game in Los Angeles.”
John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: “The Bulls are the only team in the top four in the conference with just one All-Star representative. Despite constant praise from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, Deng really never generated much All-Star buzz outside of Chicago. He wasn’t even listed in the fan poll on the TNT broadcast asking which player was the biggest snub. Boozer was among four players named in that poll and won the voting with 37.3 percent. Boozer (19.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg) has better numbers than Bosh and might have made it if he hadn’t missed 18 games because of injury.”
Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “If the 2011 NBA All-Star Game includes four players from the Celtics, three from the Heat and two each from the Spurs, Lakers, Thunder and Hawks, then Derrick Rose must be the league’s most valuable player. As of Thursday morning, the Bulls (34-14) were tied with Miami for the league’s third-best record. Only San Antonio and Boston are better. The Bulls have a nice team, obviously, but when it comes to star power Rose is basically doing the work of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined. At least, that’s how the Eastern Conference coaches voted.”
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “It was 2004 — a half-century ago in dog years — that Carlos Boozer offended the NBA by taking the biggest contract he could get. Sometimes it feels like he gets punished anew for that every year. He’s a 20 and 10 guy (and the highest-paid player) on a 34-14 Bulls team that is shattering the assumption that the Celtics, Magic and Heat are the East’s three candidates to make the Finals.”
John Hollinger of ESPN: “Many will be tempted to look at Ray Allen or Josh Smith for this spot, especially since Boozer has only played 29 games. Here’s what it comes down to for me: Boozer is better than Allen and Smith. He was better last season, he’s been better when he’s played this season, and we expect him to be better next season. The fact that he missed so many games did nothing to alter that hierarchy. So if we’re selecting the best players, why on earth would we exclude him? It’s not like he’s slacked off, either — Boozer has the best PER of any East power forward with at least 750 minutes played.”
Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago: “He is having the best season of his career. Luol Deng is averaging 18 points, six rebounds and almost three assists a game. He’s also played in every one, which, given his history, is impressive. But was he really going to make it over Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Al Horford or Rajon Rondo? All of those guys are name brands. Deng has been great for the Chicago Bulls, but his game is the opposite of flashy. Unless you’ve been watching the Bulls closely you don’t understand how solid he has been under new head coach Tom Thibodeau. He has done everything for the Bulls, but he has done it so quietly that the rest of the league still hasn’t taken much notice. The coaches went for the safe bets and, it seems, gave the benefit of the doubt to aging stars Allen, Garnett and possibly the personal pleas of East head coach Doc Rivers. Deng isn’t just a complementary player, he’s the type of player who can drop 25 on you without the other teams noticing it. That’s great for the Bulls, but it doesn’t work as well as well during a ‘me-first’ game like the one that will be played in Los Angeles in three weeks.”
Jim Reedy of Gapers Block: “Boozer and Noah were essentially excluded (rightfully) from consideration b/c of the injuries. Deng is a shaky backup candidate. I always see NBA all-star game as being about ‘the best’ players, in an overall sense. KG & Ray Allen are better than Deng. MLB consistently picks borderline players for having strong first halves, but NBA rightfully picks its stars & best players. Boozer has played in 60% of the Bulls’ games this season. He is ineligible almost by definition, especially since he brings B-level star power.”
Shams Charania of Chicago Now: “Deng’s numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he’s been the best perimeter defender for the Bulls this season, and has played as a consistent number 3 option all season. Bulls nation might think that Deng got snubbed, but he really didn’t. No question that Deng has had a major impact for the Bulls — on both ends — but his numbers just don’t cut it. He’s putting up eerily similar numbers that Bosh is, however, they’re just a bit lower. Deng has had better statistical seasons in past years, but his impact on this 34-14 Bulls team is much greater than it has been on past teams.”