Joel Embiid was not selected to the NBA All-Star roster on Thursday, missing out on one of seven reserve selections picked by the Eastern Conference coaches. The NBA All-Star game is February 19th, in New Orleans.
Embiid was hoping to become the first rookie to be selected for the All-Star team since 2011, when Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was chosen by the coaches. Yao Ming, who was voted in by the fans in 2003, was the only other rookie to make the All-Star team this century. Since 1990, There were just seven rookies to make the All-Star team since 1990, an incredibly illustrious list that includes Griffin, Yao, Tim Duncan (1998), Grant Hill (1995), Shaquille O’Neal (1993), Dikembe Mutombo (1992) and David Robinson (1990).
Fans were feverishly voting for Embiid to start the All-Star Game, and while he did finish third in the fan voting for Eastern Conference frontcourt players, that only accounted for part of the new voting process, which now counts fan voting as 50 percent of the tally, with players and media each counting for 25 percent.
In the player voting, Embiid finished eighth, while in the media voting, he finished fifth, giving Bulls forward Jimmy Butler the third frontcourt spot with LeBron James and Bucks big Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kyrie Irving of Cleveland and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto are the other starters.
With the coaches selecting the reserves, Embiid was not chosen, passed up for Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, Washington guard John Wall, Charlotte guard Kemba Walker, Indiana forward Paul George, Atlanta forward Paul Millsap and Cleveland forward Kevin Love.
Though Embiid has played in only 30 of the Sixers’ 44 games, he’s averaging 19.8 points in just 25.3 minutes per game. His per game scoring average ranks 34th in the NBA, but his per 36 minute average of 28.3 points ranks fifth.
While Embiid hasn’t played nearly the minutes of other candidates, his usage rate — or the percentage of plays a player is involved while on the court — is remarkable, as he ranks third in the NBA in usage percentage (36.1 percent), behind only DeMarcus Cousins and Russell Westbrook.
Embiid is also a difference-maker on defense. As rim protectors go, Embiid’s field goal percentage defense inside six feet is -18.3, the best in the NBA. His overall defensive field goal rate is -7.0 percent, fourth in the NBA for anyone who has played 25 or more games.
Embiid was clearly passed over for Millsap and another guard, likely either Lowry or Walker, as the two wild card picks. Sadly, the decision makes little sense from an actual game standpoint, as the East roster has zero centers, while the West roster, with DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan among the reserves, has three, not to mention Anthony Davis, who is basically a center, even if he’s listed sometimes as a power forward.
Antetokuonmpo is the only player in the East roster taller than 6-10. That should end well.
On Wednesday, Embiid and teammates Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor were named to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, to be held the Friday of All-Star weekend. Okafor will play on the U.S. Team with the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Myles Turner and D’Angelo Russell, while Embiid and Saric lead the World Team that includes Kristaps Porzingis, Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray.
Unfortunately, that’s all we’ll get from the Sixers star on All-Star weekend.
By snubbing Embiid, the coaches chose quantity over quality. Embiid is a bona fide star in the NBA and his numbers are better than Millsap’s in the games he played. Clearly, they just weren’t enough.