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NBA PM: All-Time All-Star Snubs

Anthony Davis not making the All-Star team feels unfair, but not as unfair as these players missing out for their entire careers… Why Chicago needs to make D.J. Augustin part of their long-term plan…

Joel Brigham

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All-Time All-Star Snubs

Every year we have the same conversation about deserving players losing out on an opportunity to participate in an All-Star game, but while being slighted once is painful enough, getting passed over for the duration of one’s career can be borderline humiliating, as the players on this list discovered at the end of their time in the NBA.

A couple of these players still have a few years left to receive their opportunity, but as most of the other players on the list will confirm, time runs out really, really quickly in this league.

»In Related: Western Conference All-Star Snubs

Here are the best players that never were named to an All-Star squad:

Mike Bibby – Back in the early 2000s, when he was a member of the perennially awesome Sacramento Kings, Bibby was well-respected and generally accepted as one of the best point guards in the NBA. In 2004-05, for example, Bibby averaged 19.6 PPG and 6.8 APG for the Kings, which he followed up the next year by scoring a career-high 21.1 PPG and still dishing out 5.4 APG. Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac all made All-Star teams during Sacramento’s hot run at the turn of the century, but Bibby never did, despite the fact that he was as deserving as any guy on this list.

Damon Stoudamire – While Stoudamire did most of his winning with the Portland Trail Blazers, he definitely did his best individual work as a member of the Toronto Raptors his first few years in the league, where he averaged 19 PPG and 9.3 APG his rookie season and 20.2 PPG and 8.8 APG during his sophomore campaign. His numbers dropped off considerably after the move to Oregon, but an argument could certainly be made that one of his first three seasons in the league deserved All-Star attention.

Marcus Camby – A former Defensive Player of the Year, Camby has seen success pretty much everywhere that he’s played. In 2006-07, as a member of the Denver Nuggets, Camby averaged 12.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG and 3.3 BPG, and there were some earlier years with New York that resulted in plenty of double-doubles and game-changing defense, as well. Truthfully, he’s not all that different from Tyson Chandler, who mercifully was named to his first All-Star team in 2013 despite being one of the NBA’s all-time defensive game-changers at the position. The difference between Camby and Chandler, though, is that Camby doesn’t look like he’ll ever get his opportunity.

Andre Miller – He’s just a backup point guard in Denver now, but earlier in his career, Miller was one of the league’s nastiest point guards for the Cleveland Cavaliers, L.A. Clippers, and Denver Nuggets. Of course, the common denominator is that those teams were awful when Miller played for them, and that compared with his general lack of athleticism and flash didn’t make him a particularly exciting addition to the midseason exhibition, despite the fact that his numbers support him as an All-Star. In 2001-02, for example, Miller led the league with 10.9 assists while chipping in 16.5 PPG and 1.6 SPG. That’s an All-Star point guard’s line if ever there was one.

Josh Smith – The only guy on this list with any real chance of getting himself off of this list, Smith is also the player with the most impressive statistical support for the All-Star appearance that has always been just out of his reach. As the only player in NBA history to average at least 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal per game over the course of his career, Smith is a truly unique player, but for the majority of his career he’s been a forward that has been voted out in favor of bigger names at the position like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Chris Bosh. Chicago’s team success in recent years even resulted in Luol Deng making two straight All-Star teams from 2012 to 2013. Stats also aren’t everything, and Smith really doesn’t have the same star power as some of his colleagues. Whatever the reason, he’s still never been an All-Star.

Phil Ford – This is a guy from a different era, but Ford was the Rookie of the Year in 1979 and was actually named to the All-NBA Second Team that same season. His career sort of went downhill from there, but he’s one of only a handful of players in NBA history to have an All-NBA Team accolade to his name, but not an All-Star selection.

Rod Strickland – Despite the fact that Strickland said he wouldn’t show up for the All-Star game if he was ever selected to it, he unfortunately was never even given the opportunity to boycott the festivities. He made an All-NBA Second Team in 1998 and finished among the top 10 in the league in assists seven times in the 1990s. He was kind of a curmudgeon while he played, but was perennially underrated anyway. B.J. Armstrong has an All-Star appearance under his belt, but Strickland, clearly much more deserving, does not.

»In Related: Eastern Conference All-Star Snubs

While it hurts for some of the young guys that didn’t make the team this year, Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis clearly have several years’ worth of All-Star appearances ahead of them. Some equally deserving players, however, just never got the chance.

Augustin Could Be Long-Term Backup Solution in Chicago

Chicago fans were collectively rather sad when it became clear that John Paxson and Gar Forman would not be re-signing little-engine-that-could Nate Robinson last summer, but everybody seemed to understand that the money just wasn’t going to be there to pay for his return.

With Derrick Rose out for the entirety of the 2012-13 season, someone like Robinson was necessary. He showed how even a small point guard, if aggressive, could thrive in an offensive system designed for someone like Rose. He was, to put it bluntly, awesome in last spring’s playoffs. It was a perfect fit both for him and Chicago, and just having him around won the team a first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets they probably wouldn’t have won otherwise. But with Rose returning and Robinson looking for a bigger payday, it was inevitable that Robinson wouldn’t be re-signed.

»In Related: Chicago Bulls Salary Information

The Bulls had hoped that Marquis Teague would step into that Robinson role this season, but when that didn’t happen the team went ahead and signed D.J. Augustin about 20 games into the year.

People who know basketball rolled their eyes at the first 10-day contract because Augustin was a punchline in Indiana last season, but since joining the Bulls he has played some of the best basketball in his career. In 25 games this season, he’s averaged 13.7 PPG, 6.0 APG and 1.2 SPG, all of which are either career-highs or extremely close to career-highs. He’s also shooting 42.7 percent from three-point range, which has made him an invaluable asset for a team that is 26th in the league even with Augustin shooting so well.

Like Robinson before him, Augustin is undersized but capable and thriving in a system designed for a speedy point guard. Chicago is currently the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference, only a single-game behind the third-place Toronto Raptors, but it’s hard to believe they’d be there without a capable point guard. Kirk Hinrich has missed about 20 percent of Chicago’s games this year due to injuries and Teague has been jettisoned off to the Nets. Meanwhile, Augustin has effectively kept the Bulls in contention for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which is something very few people saw coming.

Unlike Robinson, though, Augustin isn’t likely to expect the kind of payday that Robinson thought he’d ultimately get last summer, which means Augustin could actually be affordable (and apt) as a long-term solution for the Bulls as the backup point guard.

Everyone in the game would love to see Rose come back stronger than ever next season, but based on the issues Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade are having this season in the wake of their own meniscus surgeries, this really isn’t the time for optimism. Rather, it’s time for practicality, and since Rose makes so much money the Bulls will need to find an affordable but capable backup should Rose miss extended time at any point over the remainder of his massive contract.

Augustin, clearly, can shoulder that burden. He can perform in their system, he can play with this group and he can live up to this coach’s lofty expectations. The Bulls won’t likely be priced out of holding onto him, but based on what we’ve seen the last two seasons from Augustin and Robinson (and Rose, for that matter), whatever Chicago has to pay is probably going to be worthwhile.

As we’ve already seen, this core of Bulls players can be a perennial playoff team without their best player, but only if the backup point guard is someone who can hold down the fort. Augustin has proven he can do that, and Chicago can’t afford to let him go the same way they did Robinson.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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NBA Daily: The Lakers’ Path Back to the NBA Finals

In the wake of Jamal Murray’s season-ending knee injury, Bobby Krivitsky examines the Los Angeles Lakers’ path back to the NBA Finals.

Bobby Krivitsky

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It’s been 15 games since a high ankle sprain sidelined LeBron James. 

With the Western Conference standings congested as ever and Anthony Davis already out due to a right calf strain and a re-aggravation of his right Achilles tendinosis, the Los Angeles Lakers faced the threat of a fall that might have led to their participation in the NBA’s new play-in tournament.

Though they’ve gone just 7-8, the Lakers have fought admirably in the absence of their two stars and, as a result, their drop in the standings has been rather painless, falling from third at the time of James’ injury to now fifth in the West.

The primary reason the Lakers have been able to tread water without their two stars is they’ve remained stingy on defense. Since James’ injury, they have the fourth-best defensive rating in the league. That’s despite facing four teams who rank in the top five in offensive rating and six of the categories’ top-10 members.

Right now, the Lakers are 2.5 games ahead of the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, with a 4.5-game cushion between them and the Dallas Mavericks, who are seventh in the conference. That should be a large enough gap to keep Los Angeles out of the play-in tournament, but the two teams are going to converge for a two-game series starting Thursday. For the Lakers, getting swept would re-open the possibility of having to compete in the play-in tournament.

Fortunately for them, even splitting that series would make it unlikely the Mavericks finish ahead of the Lakers in the standings. And help might be on the way for the Lakers: Davis may soon rejoin the lineup, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, meaning there’s a distinct possibility he’s active for at least one of those two matchups. As for James, he’s on track to return in three weeks.

While Los Angeles’ stars are getting closer to making their returns, the Denver Nuggets got dealt a more severe blow when Jamal Murray tore his ACL in a recent game against the Golden State Warriors. Denver is 10-2 since acquiring Aaron Gordon at the trade deadline and looked the part of a legitimate title contender prior to Murray’s injury. 

Denver is fourth in the West, 1.5 games ahead of Los Angeles. But even if the Nuggets have home-court advantage, they’re the preferable opening-round opponent, not just for Los Angeles, but any team with a legitimate chance at the fourth or fifth seed.

Fortunately for the Lakers, that’s the place in the Western Conference pecking order where they’re most likely to finish this season. So long as the Nuggets don’t freefall in Murray’s absence, Los Angeles will likely start the playoffs against an opponent that’s gone from having the potential to present the greatest challenge to the defending champions’ quest to get back to the Finals to becoming a desirable first-round matchup.

After that, the Lakers may have to get past the Utah Jazz and or the Los Angeles Clippers to make a return trip to the NBA Finals. The former has the best record in the league this season, but locking horns with the defending champions in a best of seven series is a far more challenging and potentially rewarding proving ground.

The Jazz have a deep, reliable rotation, they have the best net rating in the NBA, they’re in the top five in points for and against per 100 possessions, and they’re attempting the most threes per game, but also rank in the top five in three-point shooting percentage. However, the Lakers would have the two best players in a series against Utah. Usually, an opponent doesn’t overcome that disadvantage.  

As for the Clippers, Rajon Rondo has quickly proven to be an impactful acquisition. Los Angeles is seven and one with him in the lineup, generating the highest net rating in the league during that span. Last season, the Lakers saw first-hand how impactful playoff Rondo can be. Now, the Clippers are hoping he can bring structure to their offense, something they sorely lacked last postseason and was at the forefront of them blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Nuggets. Doing so would go a long way towards maximizing the production of a team that has the talent to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time in franchise history.

If this is the year the battle of LA takes place in the postseason, it figures to be a slugfest. Still, the Clippers have their doubters after last year’s meltdown in the playoffs. There’s also a large contingency who are skeptical about how far the Jazz can go in the postseason, given their lack of a top-tier superstar. Despite the validity of those concerns, both teams can beat the Lakers in a best of seven series. That no longer appears to be the case for the Nuggets, which is a shame for them and people who want to see the best possible matchups in the playoffs. But Murray’s injury, as unfortunate an occurrence as it is, makes it easier for the Lakers to get through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference and have a chance to claim an 18th championship, which would break their tie with the Boston Celtics for the most titles in NBA history.

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NBA AM: The Play-In Game – West

With the season winding down, Ariel Pacheco takes a look at how the play-in tournament is shaping up in the Western Conference.

Ariel Pacheco

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With the regular season’s end in sight, teams are making their last push to make the playoffs in what has been a condensed season. But the new play-in tournament is providing more teams than ever a chance at a coveted playoff spot.

Here is what the new play-in tournament will look like: Teams that finish with the Nos 7 and 8 seeds will face off against each other. The winner of this game will be No. 7. The Nos. 9 and 10 seeds will also play and the winner will play the loser of the first game. The winner of this game will be the No. 8 seed. 

The play-in tournament provides intrigue and adds pressure on teams in both conferences to finish in the top six and avoid the play-in altogether. The Western Conference, in particular, is shaping up to have a rather exciting finish. There are a number of teams who could find themselves fighting for their playoff lives in this year’s tournament – all below in tiers.

Teams Likely To Avoid Play-In

Portland Trail Blazers (32-24)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: 8
Games Against Teams Over .500: 12
Games Against West: 11

The Trail Blazers are currently the sixth seed in the West meaning, for now, they are safe from the play-in tournament. However, they are just two games above the Mavericks from possibly dropping down a place. They’re the team most likely to secure that sixth seed because they have more talent than the teams below them – hello, Dame – and they also have an elite offense. However, the defensive concerns are very real and if they were to slip, it would likely be because of their struggles on that side of the ball.

Likely Play-In Teams

Dallas Mavericks

Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: 9
Games Against Teams Over .500: 5
Games Against West: 8

On paper, the Mavs have a really easy schedule as the season winds down. They have just five games against teams over .500 and two against the Los Angeles Lakers, who may be without their two stars for those games. However, they are just 10-12 this season against sub .500 teams and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Sacramento Kings. There’s still a pretty good chance they get the sixth seed and avoid the play-in, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see them in it as well.

Memphis Grizzlies
Games Left: 17
Home Games Left: 7
Games Against Teams Over .500: 8
Games Against West: 12

The Grizzlies are often overlooked, but they are about as well-coached as any other team in the NBA. It is likely they will be in the play-in game, but don’t be surprised if they are able to sneak into the sixth seed. They lost last year’s play-in game in the Bubble to the Blazers, so they do have experience in this type of setting. They may be getting Jaren Jackson Jr. back soon which should help. 

Golden State Warriors
Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: 9
Games Against Teams Over .500: 6
Games Against West: 13

The Warriors are getting just other-worldly performances from Stephen Curry on an almost nightly basis at this point. However, they continue to struggle to win games, in large part due to the struggles when he sits on the bench. Their schedule is pretty light to close the season, which bolsters their chances. The talent on this team isn’t great, but Curry’s play should be enough to get them in the play-in tournament. 

San Antonio Spurs
Games Left: 17
Home Games Left: 6
Games Against Teams Over .500: 12
Games Against West: 7

The Spurs have struggled of late, especially after the All-Star break. Their defense has dropped off badly, but if there’s any reason to be positive, it’s that they are still coached by Gregg Popovich and their young guys continue to show improvement. They have been really good on the road this season and a majority of their games are on the road. It won’t be easy, but the Spurs should find themselves in the play-in tournament.

Outside Looking In

New Orleans Pelicans
Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: 6
Games Against Teams Over .500: 9
Games Against West: 11

The Pelicans have been hit with the injury bug of late, but their inconsistent play this season continues to be a huge problem. Their defense continues to bleed three-pointers and while point Zion Williamson has worked, there just isn’t enough shooting to maximize him just yet. It seems unlikely the Pelicans make a late-season run to the play-in game.

Sacramento Kings

Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: 8
Games Against Teams Over .500: 8
Games Against West: 14

The Kings are the least likely team to make the play-in tournament. Their defense is still problematic and they just recently ended their 9-game losing streak. It’ll take a huge late-season push and the Kings just haven’t shown that they are capable of putting it all together for a long enough stretch. 

The play-in tournament adds a new layer of competition that will bring excitement at the end of the season. Be sure to check out how the play-in tournament is shaping up in the Eastern Conference.

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NBA

NBA Daily: The Play-In Game — East

With the play-in tournament just around the corner, Matt John previews who in the Eastern Conference might qualify for it.

Matt John

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It’s official: we’re entering the regular season’s endgame. Every game from here on out will have much bigger consequences, a statement even truer in 2021 than perhaps any other season thanks to the NBA’s new play-in tournament.

If you’re not familiar, the play-in tournament will consist of two matchups within each conference. The seventh and eighth seeds of both conferences will face off against one another, while the ninth and 10th seeds shall do the same. The winner of the seven-eight matchup will take their conference’s seventh seed, while the winner of the nine-10 game will face the aforementioned match’s loser for the eighth and final spot in the postseason. It’ll serve as a nice appetizer before the playoffs get underway.

So, now that we have 15 games left give or take, it’s time to get a full scope of who we’re most likely to see in this year’s play-in, starting with the Eastern Conference. There’s really no need to go over teams that have all but clinched their playoff spots like Philadelphia, Brooklyn, or Milwaukee. Just like there’s no need to mention teams that are way too out of a reach for a playoff spot like Detroit and Orlando.

But that does leave ten teams in the Eastern Conference that we could potentially see in the play-in. At first glance, it would sound ridiculous to say that Boston and Cleveland could be in the play-in seeing how they are separated by ten and a half games, but Boston is only two and a half games ahead of Miami for that seventh seed while Cleveland is only three games behind Chicago for the tenth seed.

The best way to evaluate is to divide these into tiers. One for playoff teams who are likely to avoid the play-in, one for teams that are most likely to be in the play-in, and those that are likely to miss out on the play-in.

Likely to Avoid

Atlanta Hawks (30-26)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: 11
Games Against Teams Over .500: Six
Games Against East: 13

Replacing Lloyd Pierce with Nate McMillan proved to be a genius move by Atlanta’s front office, as the Hawks have won 16 of their last 23 games. They may have had that stretch where they lost four of five, but that was on a West Coast Trip. Seeing how almost 75 percent of their remaining games will be at home, it’s hard to see Atlanta collapsing. They may be decimated by injuries right now, but the schedule seems a little too easy for them to blow this.

Boston Celtics (31-26)
Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: Eight
Games Against Teams Over .500: Four
Games Against East: 10

Much like Atlanta, Boston’s really hit their stride over the past few weeks. Getting healthy and making a few roster changes have helped them rediscover the team that started out so well at the beginning of the season. It’s hard seeing Boston folding down the stretch primarily because they won’t be facing too many strong opponents from here until the regular season’s end. Given their recent strong play, don’t expect an appearance at the play-in tournament.

Likely Play-In Teams

New York Knicks (30-27)
Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: Nine
Games Against Teams Over .500: Eight
Games Against East: Six

Give credit where credit is due. The Knickerbockers are not going away. They’ve stayed the course when many thought this was going to be another wasted year for them. They’ve given no reason to indicate that they’re stopping now. The reason they’re not as sure of a thing as Atlanta or Boston is because, over this last stretch, they’re going to face off against several Western Conference contenders looking for the highest seeding possible. As tough as that’s going to be, the Knicks are going to make each one of them earn those wins, guaranteed.

Miami HEAT (28-28)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: Eight
Games Against Teams Over .500: Seven
Games Against East: 11

It’s been difficult to get a read on the reigning Eastern Conference champions. They go on stretches that basically even out each other. After starting out 11-17, they win 12 of their next 13, then follow that up by losing their next six games, then win six of their next seven, then finally and most recently, they lose their next three games. No one really knows what Miami’s ceiling is right now. Odds are, the HEAT will probably be in the play-in. It’s just a matter of where. Also, why have we still not gotten any updates on Victor Oladipo?

Charlotte Hornets (27-28)
Games Left: 17
Home Games Left: 11
Games Against Teams Over .500: Eight
Games Against East: 13

What’s happened to the Hornets over the past few weeks is just straight up not fair. If LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward were playing, they’d solidly be in the same tier as Boston and Atlanta. With their squad fully healthy, Charlotte’s a playoff team, but being down their two best players definitely takes them down a peg. They deserve props that they haven’t rolled over since losing those two, but sadly they’re nowhere near as good as they were with their whole squad. Their schedule is easy enough that it shouldn’t knock them out of the play-in. If LaMelo and Hayward are back by then, then it’s hard not seeing the Hornets get into the postseason.

Indiana Pacers (26-29)
Games Left: 17
Home Games Left: 11
Games Against Teams Over .500: Seven
Games Against East Teams: 11

It hasn’t been talked about enough how injuries have really shaken up Indiana’s season. TJ Warren’s foot injury was a substantial season-long setback and Caris Levert’s cancer, as miraculous of a story as that was, was another prolonged absence. Overall, Indiana’s injuries have led to a rather underachieving season compared to past results. Luckily their schedule for the rest of the season shouldn’t be too tough, so making the play-in seems realistic.

Outside Looking In

*One of these teams will get the play-in as the 10th seed.

Toronto Raptors (23-34)
Games Left: 15
Home Games Left: Eight
Games Against Teams Over .500: Nine
Games Against East Teams: Seven

That’s right, the same Raptors, who only weeks ago were in serious talks to trade Kyle Lowry to the highest bidder, have suddenly found themselves in the fight for the final spot for the play-in. It’s not that they’ve suddenly turned it all around. It’s that the competition is too weak for them to bow out completely. Their schedule may allow them to go all-in on the tank, but maybe one last hurrah with the franchise’s greatest player isn’t the worst way to go.

Chicago Bulls (23-33)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: Seven
Games Against Teams Over .500: Nine
Games Against East Teams: 16

Good news: Nikola Vucevic looks like he’s fitting in splendidly. Bad news: The team has been on a downward spiral since his (and others) acquisition. Chicago has only won four of their last 13 games since the trade deadline and their remaining schedule is not going to be a breeze. On paper, they should be a shoo-in for the 10th seed, but the roster holes right now appear to be too glaring for Chicago to take the next step. If they don’t at the very least make the play-in, that’s not going to be a good look after all the moves they made.

Washington Wizards (23-33)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: Eight
Games Against Teams Over .500: Five
Games Against East Teams: 10

Remember when Washington was one of the worst teams in the league record-wise? And how they managed to only slightly improve themselves over the course of the season? Well, apparently that was enough to get them into the conversation for the play-in because, lo and behold, they’re now tied with Chicago for that 10th seed. It gets better too. They only face two tough challenges from here on out – Lakers and Bucks – but after that, it’s honestly easy enough that they might be the favorite to get that last play-in spot.

Cleveland Cavaliers (20-36)
Games Left: 16
Home Games Left: Nine
Games Against Teams over .500: Six
Games Against East Teams: 12

This sounds the most ludicrous seeing how the Cavs are currently the East’s 13th seed, but being three games behind Chicago while facing only six teams over .500 gives them a fighting chance. If the Cavaliers are actually able to get the play-in, that’s a big stepping stone for their future. It’s an accomplishment to build off of in an era with no LeBron James to speak of, which they haven’t been able to do since Friends was on the air.

As you can see, the play-in has, in a way, brought a new dimension to the NBA season. In any previous season (excluding the last one) no one would bat an eye at the 10 through 13 seeds. Their season at this point would be all but done and no one would care, but because of the possibility of going to a play-in tournament, teams suddenly have the chance to make something of what usually would have been a lost season.

Some teams may get annoyed by it because their time is coming to a close and there’s no need to delay the inevitable. For others, the play-in signifies that it could just be the beginning.

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