NBA Young Bucks Respond to Being All-Star Snubbed
Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been a word that NBA Twitter has been shouting at the top of their lungs: Snub. For those who are unaware, the word “snub” in the NBA refers to players who were wrongfully passed on and, in some ways, disrespected in regard to voting for things like All-Star game participants and All-NBA teams.
This season we had multiple cries of “snubbing” take place. First, there was Luka Doncic being voted over Damian Lillard to be a Western Conference All-Star starter. Then there was Devin Booker and Domantas Sabonis who were left off the reserves list before eventually being elevated due to Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis being listed out due to injury. Now there is a new bone to pick with the NBA All-Star voting.
That gripe is with the fact that these two young stud guards are the driving forces of their teams and barely even sniffed a chance at the big game. The two guards in question are Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. But in spite of the All-Star voting results, they both responded with a handful of big games that displayed why they should have gotten more consideration for two of the 26 available All-Star slots. That is why this week these two are the Hoopers of the week coming out of the Eastern and Western Conference.
Talk about a serious fall from grace. Last season, in only his second year in the league, Trae Young asserted himself as one of the next rising stars in the NBA and was voted as an All-Star starter representing the Eastern Conference. Fast forward a season later and now, not only is he not a starter, but he is not even on the team. But with what Young did this week, it seems safe to say that he took the snubbing to heart and wanted to prove his doubters wrong.
Prior to the All-Star reserves being announced on February 23rd, Young was coming off of a 35-point performance in a win over the Denver Nuggets in which he also had 15 assists and had four threes. But once the list was announced, Young took things to another level.
Trae Young would proceed to go for 28 points and 12 assists in a one-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and then 33 points and seven assists with five threes in a 127-112 blowout over the Boston Celtics. Yesterday he cooled off a bit against the Oklahoma City Thunder with only 17 points and eight assists on 7-of-21 shooting, but he surely made a statement with those previous three performances.
Although the Atlanta Hawks currently sit at 11th in the East with a record of 14-19, the conference is so packed that Young has them only 1.5 games back of the 8th seed and 2.5 games back of 4th. The man is averaging 26.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 9.5 assists on 43.4% shooting from the floor and 37.3% from three which is practically on par with his All-Star caliber stat line from last season.
It is definitely hard to argue with Jaylen Brown and Zach Lavine making the cut considering their impressive ascensions this season. Things also get a bit more difficult when guys like James Harden (All-Star reserve) and Russell Westbrook (who did not make the cut either) cross over from the Western Conference and absorb a handful of the votes.
Truly a testament to how much better the Eastern Conference has gotten in just one offseason. Nonetheless, it is hard to see Young not make the cut considering the kind of season he is having.
When it comes to the Oklahoma City Thunder as a franchise, they have not been devoid of an All-Star selection for a long time. Over the last decade, they have always had an All-Star whether it was Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, or even Chris Paul last season. So, for long-time Thunder fans, this season really is knee-deep in foreign territory. And although it was clear that this season would be a rebuilding year for Oklahoma City, you sure could not tell Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that.
As part of a scrappy, young Thunder team that is quietly outperforming expectations, Gilgeous-Alexander is the engine that makes this team go. This week he showed the league not only why voters messed up by not choosing him as an All-Star while also continuing to prove to the Thunder organization right for anointing him as the new face of the franchise. To kick off the week he put up 27 points and five assists on Monday in a tough loss to the Miami Heat.
Then of course the list was released on Tuesday and leading him to passive-aggressively responding to the results by taking any underlying frustrations out on the San Antonio Spurs. On Wednesday night against the Spurs, Gilgeous-Alexander put up a career-high 42 points along with eight rebounds and four assists. He hit 6-of-11 threes in this game and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line as Oklahoma City went on to win with a go-ahead three by Lugentz Dort to seal the victory 102-99.
To close out the week, the Thunder had two games against the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets, in which he combined for 37 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists as OKC would split the meetings by beating Atlanta and then falling to Denver by 30.
In spite of this young Thunder team being 12th in the West, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has truly risen to the occasion and made a great All-Star case for himself. This season he is averaging 23.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists on 51.5% shooting from the floor and 42.5% from beyond the arc.
We all know that the Western Conference is tough from top to bottom so All-Star spots are hard to come by, especially at the guard position. But we can all also agree that Shai-Gilgeous Alexander AT LEAST should not have been 11th in votes amongst guards in the West. In the final results, he finished behind Klay Thompson who is out for the season, CJ McCollum who has only played 13 games this season, and Alex Caruso who might not even be the Los Angeles Lakers’ third-best player. The man easily has a better case than all three of them and it is not even close.
But unfortunately, that is how the cookie crumbles when fan votes make up 50% of the poll. Nonetheless, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having a great season thus far and is due for his first All-Star appearance very soon if remains on the trajectory he is on right now.