Raptor All-Star Bonafides
The latest count of votes for Toronto’s NBA All-Star game came out January 14th with starters on both East and West basically locked in.
One of the closest votes is the second slot for Eastern Conference guards:
2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 399,757
3. Kyle Lowry (Tor) 367,472
A late grassroots effort between fans and celebrities created a wave of support that pushed Lowry into the 2015 NBA All-Star game in New York.
Could it happen again?
A flurry of tweets by @UnboxTherapy offering an iPhone giveaway at the 11th hour could help give Kyle Lowry the votes to put him in the All-Star starting line-up.
Lowry 2015 pre-allstar – 18.6p, 7.2a, 4.2r, +5.7
Lowry 2016 pre-allstar – 21p, 6.4a, 5.1r, +5.8
Lowry deserves recognition as the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. John Wall is Lowry’s stiffest competition, but Lowry has Wall edged in points per game (21 to 20.3), rebounds per game (5.1 to 4.3), steals per game (2.3 to 2.2), net rating (plus-5.8 to minus-0.8) and PER (22.7 to 20.7).
Kyrie Irving leads Lowry by 33,000 votes at last count, but has played just 13 games this season returning from a fractured kneecap in the first game of last year’s NBA Finals.
A spectacular talent, Irving hasn’t produced the body of work to warrant an All-Star selection. If he isn’t voted in by fans it’s unlikely the coaches would select him, leaving a spot open for another guard in the East… possibly DeRozan.
Lowry is deserving of the starting gig and if he doesn’t earn it through the fan vote the Eastern Conference coach will ensure he’s there.
Regardless of his city’s role in hosting the festivities, DeRozan has earned his All-Star selection.
Playing the best season of his career, DMDR is third among all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring and leads the conference in free throws made and attempted.
“Both of [DeRozan and Lowry] are playing like All-Stars, playing at an All-Star level,” head coach Dwane Casey told media earlier this month. “As long as the team is successful, there’s a better chance and I always pitch that [to the other coaches]. They both are playing in a way that is conducive to us winning.”
With Toronto established behind Cleveland as the best of the rest in the East, the Raptors success has no doubt been fueled by the backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan. Even more impressive is the team’s standing despite missing Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll for an extended period of the season.
If DeMar DeRozan is named an NBA All-Star along with Lowry they’ll be the first pair to represent Toronto among All-Stars since Vince Carter and Antonio Davis in 2001.
Picked by coaches in 2014, DeRozan missed the mid-season spectacle in 2015 after a groin injury derailed his campaign. Should the coaches see fit to select DeMar again his spot will be well-deserved.
NBA All-Star Predictions
Apologies to: Kevin Love… Hassan Whiteside… Reggie Jackson… Paul Millsap
Apologies to… Damian Lillard… Dirk Nowitzki… Karl-Anthony Towns… Tim Duncan