Pelicans Star Snubbed from NBA All Star Game
A week after the NBA All Star Game starters were revealed, the 14 reserve players were released on Thursday night.
In the Western Conference, the reserve guards were Devin Booker and Chris Paul of the Suns, Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was selected, and centers Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves and Rudy Gobert of the Jazz rounded out the seven reserves of the conference.
Every year, there's quality players that miss out on an All Star selection. This year, there are multiple players out of the West that can make an argument for being snubbed. To start, San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has been excellent this season, averaging 19.6 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, and 9.1 assists per game. He's fourth in the league in the assists category, but the Spurs are 19-34 this season, ranking 13th in the Western Conference.
After Murray, there's a similar situation with New Orleans Pelicans star forward Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans are 19-32 this season and currently sit at the 11th slot in the West, but Ingram has been his consistent self this year. He averages 22.5 points per game, six rebounds per game, and five assists per game. Ingram leads the team in both points and assists, but his importance to the team can't be overstated.
Ingram has played in 37 of the Pelicans' 51 games so far this season, but he has been a huge difference maker. With Ingram on the court, New Orleans hasn't been spectacular this year, but they've been absolutely terrible without him. The Pelicans are 17-20 when Ingram touches the floor, and that includes a December loss to Oklahoma City where he only played nine minutes and left due to an injury. So, let's say they're 17-19 with Ingram playing.
It's just below average, but, without him, they're 2-12. That's a pace for them to have about seven wins through the first 51 games of the season. He elevates a team that would literally have the worst record in the league without him to one that would be currently in the play-in tournament had he been available in every game this season.
Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins is the starting small forward out of the West, mostly thanks to NBA All Star fan voting from Golden State Warriors fans. Yes, the Warriors are 40-13 this season and sit at the two seed in the Western Conference. But, if you take Wiggins off that team, how much worse really are they? He averages 18 points, four rebounds, and two assists per game with a lower efficiency rating than Ingram.
The argument here isn't that Ingram deserved to be an All Star starter in the West, but it seems disrespectful that he couldn't even be named a reserve. He has proven how much he means to that Pelicans team, and if they make a push for the play-in tournament without co-star Zion Williamson, perhaps he will finally begin to get the respect he deserves.
Another player from the Warriors with worse numbers than Ingram that was selected to the All Star game was Green, but he has said that he will not play in the game. He has been dealing with a back injury, but Golden State has gone on an eight-game winning streak without him.
According to this report by The Athletic's Shams Charania, NBA commissioner Adam Silver will make the decision for the last West reserve. Green has said that Murray would be his choice for a replacement, but the NBA should announce soon who that last player will be.