Take that, coaches who probably spent a minimal amount of time considering the All-Star Game reserves before game-planning for their next opponent! Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week after being left off of their respective All-Star squads. From NBA.com:
The Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and the Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic on Monday were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 27, through Sunday, Feb. 2.
So vengeance, right? The disrespected rose up to shout their credentials from atop the vanquished foes piled before them, thus celebrated as the conquerors they are. It’s a tidy story — the snubbed given an extra dose of motivation, which they use to prove the doubters wrong.
But things get a little messier going forward, as the narrative symmetry for these two players threatens to fall apart. Lowry was a clear snub, having a far better season than Joe Johnson and likely a better candidate than teammate DeMar DeRozan. And the reason for his exclusion fro the All-Star Game is just as apparent. Lowry has a sour reputation with coaches. Coaches talk to each other. Coaches pick the All-Star reserves. Coaches weren’t going to pick Lowry. That there was another deserving member of the Raptors in DeRozan likely made not picking Lowry even easier; the coaches could do another coach-like thing and reward a team for its recent “growth” and “maturation” that’s lead to a surge in victories — and that’s also code for “not having Rudy Gay take up 400% of your possessions when he’s on the court, which was forever and always.” And there’s no recourse for Lowry, unfortunately. Short of an injury between now and the All-Star break, Lowry will be known from this day forward as an All-Star snub the year that the Eastern Conference collapsed into a gravitational singularity. At least he got his Player of the Week award, though!
Dragic missing the All-Star Game was far more forgivable. The Western Conference is loaded, both in the frontcourt and backcourt. Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Mike Conley (before his ankle sprain, which has him out for at least a week) — all were worthy of selection, as was Dragic. Several players having All-Star caliber seasons had to miss the cut. While not being named an All-Star might have provided an additional spark for Dragic, then, to call him a snub is a bit of a stretch. Yet Dragic’s injustice, justifiable as it might be and less egregious than Lowry’s, still stands a chance to be reconciled. Thanks to the caustic combination of fan voting and injury, Kobe Bryant represents a void on the Western Conference All-Star roster that needs to be filled. New commissioner Adam Silver is tasked with the selection of an injury replacement. Davis seems a rational choice, with the game in New Orleans. But if Silver decides to replace a guard with a guard, Dragic would likely get the call, barring a clean bill of health for Conley. And if that should come to pass, Goran Dragic would be known from that day forward as an All-Star in the year that the Western Conference tried to fit more stars into its space and time than was deemed possible.
Through a combination of stellar production and Pauli principle-based motivation, both Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic earned every bit of their inclusion in the All-Star discussion. And they earned their Player of the Week awards. But only one still has a chance to garner an invitation to the All-Star festivities. For the other, a week of vengeance will have to suffice.