The voting for the All-Star Game starters came out yesterday and it included one of the biggest All-Star snubs ever.
Russell Westbrook is currently leading the league in points, is second in the league in assists and is the only guard in the top 20 in rebounds, but he will not be starting. On top of those numbers, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double for the season, including 21 triple-doubles in all. To compare, all of the All-Star starters have 19 triple-doubles combined.
How could this happen? The Golden State fanbase is strong and the NBA All-Star game voting is flawed. The NBA came out with a new system of voting this year in efforts to combat fanbases simply voting for their team’s players, but it does not appear to have worked. The system that is in place gives fans 50 percent of the voting while media and the players get 25 percent each. While Westbrook got a big push in the media and player voting, the fan voting was too strong.
The next step for Westbrook should be to skip out on the All-Star game. No, he should not do it in protest of not starting, starting is not that important. But what does Westbrook have to prove to anyone by playing in the All-Star Game? In the past two All-Star Games, Russ has been named the MVP of the game. Westbrook lead all scorers in both of those games with 41 points in 25 minutes in 2015 and 31 points in 22 minutes in 2016.
By sitting out in this All-Star game Russell Westbrook could get some much needed rest. While the Thunder have been able to keep his minutes down this season he still has the highest usage rate in the league at 41.9 percent. The next closest player in usage rate is DeMarcus Cousins at 36.8 percent. Westbrook has leading a team that lost a top five player in the league last offseason to the playoffs right now. OKC is currently tied with Memphis for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
Back to the top five player the Thunder lost last offseason. Playing alongside Kevin Durant in the All-Star game could cause drama for Westbrook. When the two players have played against each other this season, all the questions have been about them and their relationship. What went wrong in OKC and who is to blame? No one will know for years, but that does not mean the media will not bring it up. The All-Star Game would stop being about the actual game and become more about watching Westbrook and Durant. Westbrook has never been a player that wants attention and he wants drama even less.
Westbrook has nothing to gain by playing in the game. The only thing that will come out of the game is more Durant talk. Westbrook should skip the game and get his rest. Go spend time with your wife, Russ. The Thunder are only going to continue to need him more and more.