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Countertop Conversation: John Wall, Kyrie Irving and All-Star Voting

After the second round of ballot returns, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving currently would be starting in the Eastern Conference Backcourt alongside Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat. While Irving may be deserving, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is having possibly having the best season of his career, while Irving is just now returning to form. In this conversion, editor Ben Mehic takes to editor Chris Manning about Irving, Wall and All-Star voting.

Manning’s All-Star Starters

G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
G: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
F: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
C: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

Mehic’s All-Star starters

G: John Wall, Washington Wizards
G: Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
F: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
F: LeBron James, Miami Heat
C: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers

Manning’s All-overlooked team

G: Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
G: Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic/ Terrence Ross, Toronto Drakes Raptors

F: Corey Brewer, Minnesota Timberwovles/ Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks

F: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
C: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks

Mehic’s All-overlooked team

G: Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets/Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
G: Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic/Wesley Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers

F: Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers
F: Amir Johnson, Toronto Raptors
C: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks

 Chris Manning: As I’ve stated on Twitter a few times now, I think John Wall should the starter in the Eastern Conference backcourt alongside Dwayne Wade. Over the course of the entire season, he’s been more consistent and simply better than Irving. The Wizards are also slightly less dysfunctional that the Cavaliers and, if they can find consistency, there is a good chance they can get a high playoff spot in the East. That should count for something, and that leads me to think that if Wall had a profile as high as Irving, he might receive the number of fan votes Irving has received.

Ben Mehic: I definitely agree with everything you stated. Although John Wall is having a better statistical season than Kyrie Irving and his team has been a lot less dysfunctional than the Cavaliers, I didn’t expect him to get more fan votes than “Uncle Drew.” Let’s face it, fans will inevitably vote for their favorite players who are often times the ones with more publicity. Irving is a lot more popular than Wall and he might be a more fun player to watch, given his tremendous ability to score the ball and his flashy ball handling certainly doesn’t hurt. With that said, John Wall should obviously be starting. Derrick Rose is out for the rest of the season, Rajon Rondo has yet to step on the floor, and Deron Williams has had a turbulent season, which makes John Wall the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season, or at least it does thus far.

Irving definitely deserves to make the All-Star team, but so are guards like Jeff Teague, who’s also having a terrific season of his own. Fans will vote for their favorite players and I can’t say I’m not guilty of voting for Jan Vesely multiple times this season. I think the better alternative would be to allow media members to select the starters, while the coaching staff chooses the reserves. It will likely prevent outrage from certain players getting snubbed out of the All-Star game every season, but I guess one of the most important parts of the event is having fan participation, so there really is no solution.

CM: This leads me to my main question here. Should we be okay with having fans vote for All-Star games and just accept whatever the end result is? Or should it be left up to coaches (or even players) to decide so, theoretically, the most deserving players each season would make it and we would then avoid a injured older star like Kobe Bryant getting a high number of votes?

I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. All-Star Weekend and the game itself  are for the fans, but history has shown that, collectively, fans don’t always get it right. For instance, this season, Aaron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic should be a shoo-in but likely won’t get a lot of fan support. Thus, I’d suggest that the vote gets spilt 50/50. Each coach would get to fill out a roster and the fans will continue to vote as they always have. It’s not a perfect solution, but it the right mix of entertainment value and getting the correct players the All-Star bids that they deserve.

BM: I honestly don’t have much of a problem with letting the fans vote for the starters. Although it’s frustrating to see undeserving players get the nod simply because they’re popular, the All-Star weekend is all about the fans so I can’t complain. If the fans get it wrong, the deserving players will likely still get to participate via the coaches vote. There is no solution to the problem, considering that fan involvement is such a big part of the NBA All-Star game. People will complain regardless of the how the system is run.

The only way to ‘fix’ the issue is to make sure the players that deserve to start, get the most fan votes. The Wizards don’t have any nationally televised games this season, making it extremely hard for the casual fan to know about John Wall’s brilliance on the court. Those who know of John Wall and his consistent improvement will vote for him. That’s the only solution. Vote for the players you think deserve to start.

CM: Your last point brings up an interesting point. Basketball Twitter spoils us in a way. On a nightly basis, we get legitimate and thoughtful analysis on basketball from people who watch and observe on daily basis. In short, Basketball Twitter knows what it is talking about. In total, that’s a small percentage of the population. Most fans don’t know enough to not vote in Kobe Bryant as a starter and to give Jeremy Lin more votes than his much better teammate James Harden (although that is due to his massive popularity in Asia).

As for the nationally televised games, the NBA would be better served to have more flexibility in their national schedule. Basically, the NBA needs less Knicks and Lakers on ESPN and more teams like the Wizards and Suns on ESPN. They could start with Christmas say scheduling, where they decide two weeks in advance who is playing on the 25th and actually have five games worth watching.

BM: I could definitely do without seeing the Lakers and Knicks on national TV, but I think those games will inevitably get more viewership than a Wizards or Suns game would. The NBA had record ratings for their Christmas day games and I think that’s because teams like the Lakers have enough name power to draw some casual fans to tune in. Like you said, the casual fan isn’t as up-to-date on the league as people who watch games on a consistent basis are. Even though watching Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic play on national TV would definitely be a lot more entertaining than watching Carmelo Anthony and Co., the NBA knows what it’s doing. At the end of the day, the NBA has to make money and I don’t think they’d break any records with a nationally televised Suns or Wizards game. With that said, I obviously do wish they had more flexibility in terms of scheduling.

CM: I think you’re right about that, but it’s a cycle that does the NBA any favors long term. The league’s future stars – the ones that will take the torch from Kobe, Carmelo and the like are playing in smaller markets – Cleveland, Washington, New Orleans, Phoenix and such. I guess there s a middle ground here that needs to be filled.

I am going to make a comparison to UFC marketing strategy for a second, so bear with me. When the UFC wants to build itself a new star that can help them sell pay per view’s or draw ratings on FOX, they pair an aging veteran draw against a young up and comer who is likely to win and breakthrough. And if the veteran wins? Then the UFC banks on that star for a little extra longer and again pairs them against a young talent.

I think the NBA would be smart to use a similar strategy. People will watch the Knicks and Lakers, so have them play teams like the Wizards or Pelicans on national TV. That way they get their ratings and also give their young stars proper exposure. I see this as a win-win for the NBA.

BM: If done right, I think that could potentially work. The NBA has always done a great job marketing it’s younger talent and advertising games between some of the veteran teams and up-and-coming teams wouldn’t be too difficult. It would definitely give some of the lesser known talent exposure, especially if they’re given the chance to play against the likes of Kobe Bryant on national TV. I specifically remember watching the Clippers play against the Spurs during Blake Griffin’s rookie season and the NBA did a great job at advertising the Griffin-Tim Duncan match up.

MMA is probably the fastest growing sport in the world, so they must be doing something right. I remember watching Jon Jones fight on the free television cards on Spike and Fuel TV before he completely blew up into the superstar he is today. Of course, the NBA and UFC are completely different entities, but I think you could be on to something. Regardless, there are a number of younger players in the NBA that deserve to be household names. There’s no better way of gaining recognition besides being seen on television by millions of people.

Make sure you sound off below and let Mehic and Manning know what you think of their proposals, their All-Star teams and and their All-Overlooked teams. Find Mehic on Twitter at @BenAgent0 and Manning on Twitter @cwmwrites.

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Tags: Al Horford All-Star Voting Cleveland Cavaliers John Wall Kyrie Irving NBA

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