Anti-All-Stars: Western Conference
The past few seasons here at Hickory-High I’ve handed out a slew of ‘Anti-Awards
‘ at the end of each season, recognizing some of the least productive and discouraging statistical achievements. We’ll be taking a look at early favorites for those Anti-Awards on Thursday, but yesterday and today we’ve decided to widen our channel of snarky negativity. In the spirit of the Anti-Awards, and with an eye towards this weekend’s All-Star festivities, the staff of Hickory-High has been making selections for an Anti-All-Star Team.
The criteria for being chosen was left up to each individual writer. Some players were chosen for a frustrating lack of positive production. Others were chosen because they in some way represent the opposite of the All-Star ideal. There are bad players, disappointing players, oddities, and those with a style of play that is aesthetically repulsive. There were many worthy candidates and winnowing them down to ten starters and two coaches was no easy challenge. Below is the lineup for the Western Conference. You can also check out our Eastern Conference picks from yesterday. If there’s someone you think we missed, or unfairly included, let us know in the comments!
Guard – J.J. Barea – Minnesota Timberwolves
This pesky backup guard is listed at 6’0″ – if he’s six feet tall, I’m 6’3″ … which I’m not. Seriously, is there any player that is more easy to hate if he isn’t on your team? He is the standard bearer on floppng, having taken the title from Luis Scola, who had inherited it from Vlade Divac. Not only is Barea a flopper on defense, it’s impossible to stop him from shooting, if you’re the coach or the defense. Barea is going to do something crazy, whether it’s a turnover, a three point shot, or a pick-and-roll with Pekovic or Cunningham.
This is why he’s such a great Anti-All-Star. He is so great to cheer for, because you ignore the flopping and welcome the points, while the other team automatically has someone to hate. Plus, he’ll get to team up with this team’s roster on those pick-and-roll sets, which should be quite exciting.
– Daniel Lewis, @trueDanLewis
Guard – Willie Green – Los Angeles Clippers
You’ve really got to really hand it to Vinny Del Negro. When Willie Green is your starting shooting guard, more often than not, you’re ceding offensive efficiency, in garbage time, or tanking (or a non progressive, middling Sixers team). Green is essentially a replacement level guard with below-average abilities across the board in nearly every offensive measurement. With the Clippers though, he surfaces just above the line deemed ‘acceptable,’ treading water until Jamal Crawford’s entrance.
Of course, this really isn’t Del Negro’s doing more than how Chris Paul elevates the play of the four players around him at any time. Green’s function in the Clips’ starting five is simple: stand in the corner and shoot the three when the ball makes its way to him. This year, he’s making 43% of his corner threes, well above league average. It’s Green’s only skill, but its utility is maximized by virtue of Paul’s expert floor management.
NBA.com says Green’s baskets have been assisted an astounding 91% of the time, including 75% by usual starting mates Paul, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. That unit posts an elite offensive rating of 113.0 – a unit that Willie Green, he of the 10.0 PER, is a member of.
This merits Green for a placement on this year’s Anti All-Star team. As it wouldn’t possess the efficiency of Paul’s offenses, Green’s shooting percentages will bottom out, exposing his true lackluster production. On the Clippers, Green has since been demoted with the return of Chauncey Billups, but he’ll get at least one more chance to start on this Anti-All-Star team.
– Andrew Koo, @xAndrewKoo
Forward – Shawn Marion – Dallas Mavericks
I’m making no apologies for Marion. I won’t give him a free pass for his incessant whining in Phoenix about not getting the credit he deserved, there’s no excuse for his ultra-defensive request that the media address him as “world champion” after Dallas won the 2011 title and his recent comments about refusing to play for a non-contender are clumsily honest at best. While his game reveals a man willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, his public comments (to say nothing of his true feelings) reveal a man at odds with his internal desires; which are apparently to be showered with praises.
I celebrate the individual in pro sports and while I can appreciate the inner turmoil and insecurity that must be going on inside Marion, his inability to learn that his comments are far from constructive is something that’s become annoying and petty. I’d be happy to lump that hideous jump shot into the unappealing profile of Marion, but to be honest I find it endearing and symbolic of the ongoing inner strife of individual recognition versus team need. I can empathize with Marion, but until he reveals himself to be capable of media maturity, he gets no love and no leeway.
– Kris Fenrich, @DancingWithNoah
In Jackie Brown, Robert DeNiro plays a washed up, weed-addled gangster. He eventually [spoiler alert] gets shot by Samuel L. Jackson’s character. After Jackson’s character does so, he asks, “What the fuck happened to you man? Your ass used to be beautiful.”And then he shoots him again, fatally. It’s not quite time to take Micheal Beasley to the woodshed. He’s only just turned 24, after all. But even at that tender age, he is in danger of becoming irrelevant. The sad part is, he’s an All-Star-level talent. But Beasley’s last flash of brilliance gets dimmer and dimmer with more distance, and after Phoenix inexplicably signed him to an $18 million deal this season, he joins the bottomless ranks of NBA players with terrible contracts. It’s amazing to think there was real debate over whether the Bulls should take him over Derrick Rose in the 2008 draft. Things are different now.
– Myles Ma, @MylesMaNJ
Center – Omer Asik – Houston Rockets
Omer Asik is this writer’s choice for the center on the Western-Conference Anti-All Star team. Asik is the antithesis of what an All-Star should embody: world-class athleticism and/or a high level of offensive entertainment value.
Asik is neither particularly athletic (although he works hard and has quick feet) nor entertaining—his offensive game may be amongst the most aesthetically displeasing in the league. My apologies to Zach Lowe and the Tayshaun Prince isolation, but Asik’s post attempts are the most unwatchable possessions in the league. He thrives on playing smothering defense in the paint and setting crushing screens (and rolling to the hoop) on offense, skills that are not well served by the All-Star game’s offense first, second, and third philosophy in which defense is little more than an afterthought. While Asik may very well be deserving of an All-Star berth in future years (especially if he improves on offense), he is easily one of the players least suited to providing fans with the entertainment they expect in the All Star game.
– Ming Wang
Coach – Gregg Popovich – San Antonio Spurs
While Popovich will be at the helm for the Western Conference in the actual All-Star game, I think even he would agree that the Anti-All-Star Team is his true home.
The NBA All-Star game, as I see, it serves two purposes. The first is a flawed and archaic celebration of individual achievement. The second is an extended, and uninvited, opportunity for the NBA to slap itself on the back for being the greatest force for good in the known universe. I can’t think of anything that should appeal less to Popovich. His entire career with the Spurs has been spent building a structure that celebrates the team over the individual, winning basketball games as the penultimate statistical accolade, and fundamentals over pizzazz. He approaches basketball as pure competition and, at least publicly, shuns any acknowledgement of the entertainment component of his chosen profession. Popovich has made clear time and time again that the Spurs are here to pursue their own goals, and have no interest in glorifying the league-almighty.
Of all the 12 individuals we’ve chosen for these Anti-All-Star teams, I don’t know that anyone represents the Anti-All-Star ideal more than Greg Popovich.
– Ian Levy, @HickoryHigh