Does Stephen Curry deserve to start the All-Star Game?
Since last night, we know the holders for the next All-Star Game 2023. Among them, Stephen Curry, who will not surprise anyone because of the greatness and popularity of the best shooter in history. But we can still wonder if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ja Morant aren’t more legitimately a starter alongside Luka Doncic.
Does Stephen Curry deserve to start the All-Star Game earlier than…?
The beginning of this sentence may seem absurd at first glance. We are talking about Stephen Curry, the best sniper of all-time, the 2022 Finals MVP, a four-time NBA champion, a man who still averages 30 points – 6 rebounds – 6 assists at the age of 34. In short, a basketball monster.
Except yes, whether Warriors fans want to hear it or not, there was indeed a debate this year about the second place holder in the West’s backcourt, with Luka Doncic. A debate that stems specifically from Curry’s absence for three weeks (shoulder injury) between mid-December and early January, but also from the greatness of two backs named Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Ja Morant .
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s arguments (versus Steph)
- Many more matches were played
- Almost identical collective balance sheet with less talent
Like Stephen Curry, SGA is having an exceptional individual campaign: 30.8 points on average (51.1% shooting, 36.1% 3-pointers, 90.6% free throws), 4.8 rebounds , 5.6 assists, and a defensive contribution that is not can be done. ignored (1.1 tackles, 1.7 interceptions). You add the big money-time exploits to bring the Thunder to the gates of the play-in tournament, and you get a file very seriously for the All-Star Game.
What could (should?) have tipped the scales in SGA’s favor is that he has played 11 more games this season than Stephen Curry. Shai has only missed 4 games this year, versus 15 for Steph, for the same total games played by their respective teams (48). A significant difference.
And then, when you look at the record of the Thunder and the Warriors, you realize that the two franchises are separated by just one game in the standings (23 wins – 25 losses for Oklahoma City, 24-24 for Golden State). If we had been told that in October, we wouldn’t have believed it. This small difference is both representative of the talent of SGA, which is capable of carrying on its shoulders a promising but still limited and largely inexperienced team, as well as the galleys of the Curry Warriors – but defending that champions – this year.
Player 1: Michael Jordan 1992
Player 2: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 2023
— TrashTalk (@TrashTalk_fr) January 23, 2023
Ja Morant’s arguments (versus Steph)
- Many more matches were played
- Higher collective balance sheet
The matches played argument also applies to Ja Morant. The Grizzlies superstar played in 40 of his team’s 48 games, compared to just 33 for Stephen Curry. There, too, we are at an important difference, in any case important enough to consider when comparing Steph’s and Ja’s files.
The other major argument in favor of Morant is the collective record. Frankly, Memphis is pretty tough right now with a four-game losing streak, but we’re still talking about the team with the second-most wins in the Western Conference, and the third best total in the entire NBA (record of 31 wins – 17 losses). And that, of course, is partly thanks to Ja’s exploits.
Averaging 27.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8 assists and 1 steal this season, Ja Morant is Ja Morant. He’s stringing together big individual perfs, he’s posturing everything in motion, and epitomizes the confidence the Grizzlies have built since his arrival in 2019. In short, a true superstar. Superstar who will however have to settle for a spot as a substitute in the next All-Star Game, which will undoubtedly give him an additional source of motivation for the second half of the season.
Ja Morant saw All-Star starter Steph Curry on him this season @PatBevPod pic.twitter.com/JqUQtooi3x
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 27, 2023