Jason Kidd was chosen to replace Kobe Bryant in the All-Star game, but the pick was hardly a popular one. Some pointed to his lack of scoring, some his underwhelming defense, and others were aghast at the mere concept of “Jason Kidd, All-Star.” There are definitely candidates out there that could have given Kidd a run for his money (if not overtake him outright), but regardless of your preferred dish (I’ll have the Tyreke), Kidd will be the guy. But how? Why? What criteria could possibly exist that would have Kidd as next-in-line when our better judgment says otherwise?
1. Quality – Jason Kidd is the top remaining player (or at least guard) left unselected in the Western Conference.
“For the record, Jason Kidd had the best WARP of any West guard not on the roster. Would you rather Baron Davis? Manu Ginobili?” [Ed. Note: WARP is "wins above replacement player"]
-Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus (@kpelton)
If I were given the reins, I would have essentially narrowed it down to four players: Kidd, Tyreke Evans, Carlos Boozer, Nene. From there, it’s almost a matter of preference.
In Evans, you have a dominant scoring guard that can electrify in the All-Star tradition. In Boozer, you have a rock-steady big putting up impressive numbers for a rising Utah team. In Nene, you have a very versatile center that can run the floor, throw it down with authority, and do just about everything in between.
But if you’re looking for a guard, especially a point guard, Kidd may be the sound pick. Kevin Pelton uses two pretty innovative metrics to break down the lot of remaining Western Conference point guards here, and the numbers are kind to Kidd — especially “pass rating.” Kidd is not an ideal All-Star candidate, but that’s okay. Pelton wraps his analysis wonderfully by providing this explanation:
Ultimately, I think the veteran point guard would be my pick, but at the very least this analysis seems to show that Kidd’s selection is hardly the travesty it’s been made out as in some circles. Yes, as at best the fifth-best point guard in the conference, Kidd doesn’t really belong in the All-Star Game. Given the circumstances, however, I think the NBA did the best it could.
2. Convenience – Jason Kidd is the top remaining player left unselected that can actually make it to the All-Star Game.
“New trend for 2010: selecting all stars based on who can get to host city.”
-John Hollinger, ESPN.com (@johnhollinger)
Admittedly, this was the first thought that popped into my head. Dallas is having record snowfall, and the entirety of the Northeast is covered in a white blanket that’s ten feet thick and shuts down cities…much less airplanes. Plauyers from all over the country are having a hard time landing at D/FW, so it makes sense to choose a guy that the league knows can make it to Dallas safely and on-time. Oh hey, Jason Kidd plays in Dallas, doesn’t he? How delightfully convenient!
But then I saw this tweet from Marc Stein (@STEIN_LINE_HQ) “Take note: Kidd [was] already in PHX for his All-Star break. Now scheduled to return to Dallas on Friday.”
So Kidd is flying in to Dallas just like everyone else, and was probably farther away than point guard alternatives Russell Westbrook and Aaron Brooks. So let’s toss this one out, shall we?
3. Host Bias – Jason Kidd is the top remaining player left unselected on the Dallas Mavericks.
“The Jason Kidd emergency selection in the West made enough sense with its hometown angle, considering, with the latest weather developments, that already being in Dallas is emerging as a prime selection criteria. Heck, if Kidd couldn’t make it, the next call was going to J.J. Barea.”
-Ira Winderman, ProBasketballTalk
Take a guess: since 1990, how many times has the host city had just one All-Star?
Once. The 1997 ASG in Cleveland featured Terrell Brandon as the sole representative of the Cavs. But in every other year (excepting the lockout season and the ASG in Las Vegas), the host was either star-less (no All-Stars) or blessed with two All-Stars. Chalk it up to wonky coincidence if you’d like, but the host city had one All-Stars in far more cases than one, and based on the data, 1997 seems more like an outlier.
I’d be shocked if this was the sole criteria in naming Kidd an All-Star, but I’d also be shocked if it didn’t tip the scales in his favor.