Denton: Afflalo Snubbed From All-Star Game
By John Denton
Jan. 30, 2014
ORLANDO– Based on sheer statistical evidence, Orlando Magic guard Arron Afflalo is having a better season than Joe Johnson and DerMar DeRozan – guards who were picked to the Eastern Conference All-Star team on Thursday.
Winning clearly factored into the voting, and Afflalo is just fine with that. Because at the end of the day, Afflalo has said that winning will always be more far more important than individual accomplishments.
Despite having a career year and ranking among the top shooting guards in practically every statistical category, Afflalo’s hopes of making his first NBA All-Star team were dashed on Thursday when he was left off the team. Clearly, Orlando’s 12-35 record factored into the decision to pick the likes of DeRozan and Johnson ahead of Orlando’s standout guard.
Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, John Wall, Paul Millsap, Johnson and DeRozan were picked as East reserves behind starters LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving.
In the West, the reserves are LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, James Harden, Dwight Howard and Dirk Nowitzki. The starters are Steph Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. The NBA All-Star Game will be played Feb. 16 in New Orleans.
Magic guard Victor Oladipo was picked on Wednesday to play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 14. The Orlando rookie is also hopeful of competing in the Sprite Slam Dunk Challenge on Feb. 15 at the All-Star Game.
While the starters were picked by the fans, the reserves were selected by the coaches from each conference. Coaches were asked to vote for three frontcourt players, two backcourt players and two wildcard players and they were not allowed to vote for players on their own team.
The reserves in the West came from teams with an average of 31.4 wins this season. From the East, the seven reserves play on teams with an average of 25.5 wins.
Afflalo was one of the snubs from the Eastern Conference along with Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and Charlotte power forward Al Jefferson.
Afflalo, who has raised his scoring average seven straight seasons, ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring (20 ppg.) and third among shooting guards behind James Harden and DeRozan. The biggest difference between those players and Afflalo is the Magic guard’s efficiency. He’s shooting 47 percent from the floor and 42 percent from 3-point range. DeRozan is averaging more points (21.8 ppg.), but he’s only shooting 42.8 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range.
Johnson only recently vaulted himself into All-Star consideration after a slow start to the season. From Jan. 6 through Jan. 20, Johnson averaged 24.5 points in six games to boost his scoring average to 15 points a game.
The Nets, who were once 11 games below .500, have won eight of their last 10 games, but still they are only 20-23 despite being picked to challenge Miami and Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
Afflalo’s scoring average rose to as high as 21.9 points per game earlier in the season, but he’s slipped some of late while averaging just 16.6 points over his last 10 games. Still, Afflalo has been the model of consistency this season with 22 20-point games, four 30-point efforts and a career-best 43-point night against Philadelphia on Dec. 3.
Afflalo said last week that he understood that winning should factor into the players who are picked as All-Stars. He said his focus of late has been more on trying to get the Magic – losers of three straight heading into Friday night’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks – back on track.
``As we’ve started to have our struggles as a team, that became more of my focus to get us out of that funk,’’ said Afflalo, who is also averaging career highs in rebounding (4.3 rpg.) and assists (3.7 apg.). ``Early in the season it was fun because it was my first time being in the conversation and hit with (all-star) consideration. But it’s just about the growth of my game.
``You have to be careful with that (all-star) stuff,’’ Afflalo added, referring to the all-star talk. ``You get off to talking too much individuality and it can be sensitive sometimes. But the (Magic) coaching staff has given me a great opportunity and the coaches have done a good job of getting me the ball and allowing me to excel.’’