It’s not entirely as simple as labeling a player like Kyle Lowry as an All-Star snub. Lowry’s a feisty point guard having a career year in the final year of his contract with the Toronto Raptors this season. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) has been second best in the Eastern Conference among guards, only behind the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade.
Lowry’s play has been great, but the basis and the use of the word snub has been widely overused and abused across every major sport, basketball being no exception. It’s trivial to get heated over who should or should not be an All-Star in the NBA because of fan voting and the selection process of the reserves. Every year, players who should be All-Star’s are left off the roster, and players who should not be All-Star’s stockpile another résumé booster for their individual career.
Lowry is a player who should be an All-Star, but Joe Johnson from the Brooklyn Nets made the All-Star team over Lowry, which is troublesome when evaluating an All-Star strictly off statistical analysis. Simply put – Joe Johnson should not be an All-Star when looking at the numbers. So why did Johnson make the team? He plays for a team with national spotlight in Brooklyn; he’s a six-time All-Star and experience almost always wins-out in the All-Star selection process. And yes, Brooklyn has had an encouraging resurgence as a team since the calendar turned to 2014.
All those things matter: national visibility to fans, name recognition, and winning basketball will always make a player like Johnson an All-Star, and will result in a player like Lowry who lacks national visibility to fans and name recognition to suffer. But the point isn’t to debate if the All-Star process is fair or unfair to a player like Lowry; it’s to point out the lack of attention Toronto receives as a whole.
Last week when the All-Star reserves were announced, I wrote a piece about DeMar DeRozan and how his eventual All-Star selection was potentially likelier than Lowry because DeRozan presents the opportunity for the Raptors and the NBA to package the team and player as one. A face for a faceless franchise. And frankly, the Raptors need DeRozan to represent their franchise more than Lowry, even though Lowry’s played better basketball throughout the season.
I’m optimistic that DeRozan ultimately getting the nod over Lowry will promote the Toronto Raptors towards the rest of the NBA’s global fan base in the best possible way. DeRozan is a deserving candidate, who is younger and much more marketable for the Raptors than Lowry.
Also, the Raptors have an appealing young nucleus with 22-year-old swingman Terrence Ross and 21-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas alongside of DeRozan at least through 2016. Lowry may or may not be a part of that future, and his All-Star slight is upsetting for committed basketball enthusiasts, but sensible to Raptor fans and the bigger picture at large for Toronto Raptor basketball.
It’s possible the average NBA fan, or US citizen for that matter, may not realize that Toronto is the fourth largest city population-wise in North America, ahead of Midwest landmark Chicago. The NBA undoubtedly understands this, and it can be argued Toronto is the biggest untapped resource the NBA has. A goldmine waiting ( seemingly, waiting on-end) to be exposed to the audience in the United States.
Going forward, it’s not hard to see why DeRozan was the Raptor All-Star and Lowry was not. Call it political, or best for business – it’s now unchangeable. What fans of the NBA and the Raptors can hope is that the selection of DeRozan will prevent a future dilemma like the one the team has just faced, and allow the Raptors to a future of multiple All-Star’s on their roster.