The 2022 NBA All Stars starters line-up was released by the league organizers on January 27 to a warm reception by avid fans of the hoops game, but not a few were taken aback by a certain name quite unexpected as a starter for the Western Conference.

Few would consider Andrew Wiggins among the three best front-court players in the Western Conference, even with Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing time due to injury. The inclusion of Wiggins generated quite a few snubs in the starting five.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?
To understand why Wiggins was named an All-Star starter, one needs to understand how the voting works. The starters for the NBA All-Star Game are determined by a vote split between the fans (50 percent), media (25 percent), and players (25 percent).

The mere fact that a certain Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert got more media votes, more player votes and a higher player ranking than Andrew Wiggins proves that NBA All-Star voting is skewed. Going by logical and sensible voting metrics, Gobert is widely and universally acknowledged a better player than Andrew Wiggins.

In the course of the voting process for the NBA All-Star roster, Gobert did receive more votes from media members and was ranked higher than Wiggins by fellow players. But, because of a system that places too much emphasis on fan popularity, Gobert lost out to Wiggins for the All-Star spot to play frontcourt for the West.

Expectedly, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic were locks to start as Western Conference frontcourt players. Each voting faction had a different preference for the third spot:

  • Fans: Wiggins
  • Media: Jazz center Rudy Gobert
  • Players: Warriors forward Draymond Green

The 2014 first overall draft pick only received 4 out of a possible 98 votes from the media and was still able to be named an All-Star starter. Gobert received 64/98 votes and failed to finish Top 5. How unfortunate.

 

NUMBERS DO NOT LIE
The numbers put the disparity into proper perspective: Gobert received 52 player votes; Wiggins got 46. Gobert ranks No. 4 among players; Wiggins is fifth ranked. Gobert received 65 media votes; Wiggins amassed four. Gobert ranks No. 3 among media; Wiggins ranks No. 6.

But Wiggins ranks higher in fan rankings, which is what gives him the edge over Gobert. Wiggins received 3,452,586 fan votes; Gobert received 767,505. Wiggins ranked No. 3 among fans; Gobert ranked No. 9.

While there is a massive discrepancy between Gobert and Wiggins, fellow Golden State Warrior Draymond Green also got snubbed by garnering fewer fan votes than Wiggins. Green got 58 player votes, ranked No. 3 among players, got 20 media votes and ranked No. 4 among media, but he did not make the All-Star roster either.

Of course, we will never know whether Wiggins would have been named a reserve by Western Conference coaches whose selections are deemed credible.

He would have factored well into a debate that included Lakers big Anthony Davis, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Suns center Deandre Ayton, Mavericks big Kristaps Porzingis, Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane, Clippers wing Paul George and the possibility of considering Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Suns guard Devin Booker or Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell a forward.

Now you see why the above stated reasons are contributory factors indicative of a system that does not create an enabling platform for its practitioners, but rather simply a gathering of the most popular players.

 

PANACEA
Clearly, Wiggins had more fan votes with less player and media support, which suggests it’s high time the NBA took a cursory look into its voting pattern for the yearly All-Star exhibition game.

In the eyes of players and the media, Gobert and Green are better players, but because San Francisco has a larger fan base than Utah, and the fact that the Golden State Warriors can afford to use the services of influencers to garner votes, it turns out Wiggins outranked Gobert.

Do not be mistaken, he is having a notable year with the Warriors, averaging 18.1 points, 5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. He has developed quite well as a two-way player, thus earning a measure of respect and recognition after the early struggles in his career, especially with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But when a player who historically draws criticism and ire from fans because of his play makes the All-Star game berth and is named a starter, lovers of the game are bound to be concerned and will point to the flaws in the system.

An impartial panel of coaches and ex-players, who weigh-in with objective and meritorious selection options to the voting procedure should be seriously considered by the league organizers. This suggestion, if implemented, will strike a balance between sentiment and reason.