Joel Embiid named to NBA All-Star team as a starter

Ben Simmons has to wait until Jan. 23 to see if he made the team as a reserve.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Trust the voting process: Joel Embiid was named a starter for the NBA All-Star game, announced on TNT Thursday evening.

Embiid was one of the top vote-getters for Eastern Conference front-court players, earning more than 1.2 million votes. He ranked third among front-court players in the NBA media vote, but fourth in the player vote behind Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks.

All Stars
TNT

Embiid joins LeBron James and Giannis Anteteokuonmpo as frontcourt players selected from the East, while Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan were selected as the top two guards from the East.

Ben Simmons finished third in backcourt voting for the East, with more than 669,000 votes, but was not chosen as an All-Star starter. He will have to wait until January 23 to see if he will be picked as a reserve. That group will be selected solely on a vote of NBA coaches.

In the West, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins were the selections in the frontcourt, while Steph Curry and James Harden were selected as guards.

Sixers starting the All-Star Game

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers haven’t had an All-Star since Jrue Holiday was selected by the coaches in the 2012-13 season. He was traded the next off-season The year prior, Andre Iguodala was a coaches selection to the  He was gone the following year as well.

The last Sixers player to be voted into the All-Star game by the fans was Allen Iverson in the 2009-10 season. He played just 25 games with the Sixers that season after only three games in Memphis, his last in the NBA.

The last time the Sixers had two All-Stars in the same season was 2001-02 when Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo were both fan selections. The last time the Sixers had two All-Stars where one was selected by the fans and one by the coaches was 2000-01 when AI made the starting lineup and Theo Ratliff was chosen as a reserve.

The wonky NBA voting process

NBA: Utah Jazz at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The voting process is complicated. Here’s how the NBA explains it:

After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters.  Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score. 

That Embiid received one more vote than Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis or 150,000 more votes didn’t actually matter. It merely gave him one point better in the fan ranking. Those numbers get doubled — fan voting counts as 50 percent — and added to the media and player ranking, gave the NBA their rankings for who will start the game.

And yet, the East starters won’t all be facing those from the West.

Starters NBA ASG
TNT

This year, the All-Star Game, to be held February 18 in Los Angeles, will be a pick-up game style, similar to what the NFL and NHL have done in previous seasons. The top vote getter in each conference — in this case James and Curry — will serve as All-Star captains, picking from the other remaining starters and reserves to build two teams from stars across the league. Teammates facing teammates, Cavs playing with Warriors, all in an effort to freshen up the format and make for a more competitive game.

This format has its issues, particularly in the selection process. Despite the game being a mash-up of conferences where captains pick teams, the league opted to keep the voting format the same as in past seasons, with voters picking five starters from each conference. And despite the rise of positionless basketball — the Sixers often employ lineups with three guards — That’s why Russell Westbrook, the perennial MVP candidate for the Oklahoma City Thunder, was left off the list of starters despite amassing 200,000 more fan votes than DeRozan.

It’s a bad system, and hopefully in future years the voting process will be amended. In the end, who starts doesn’t matter as much as who makes or doesn’t make the team. Westbrook will be there for sure. Simmons could still be left out.

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