Making Sense of the Nonsense

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 12, 2010 under Commentary | 5 Comments to Read

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.

  • Kirk Henderson

    Simmons made the argument a while back that Kidd and Nash and Paul (the best pass first PG) should be contractually obligated to be in the All-Star game. I agree.

    As much as I enjoy seeing these guys play together, there just aren’t as many true facilitators anymore. Kobe, Lebron, Wade etc are all excellent passers, but their instinct is to score. In an All-Star game filled with scorers, you need those guys to get them the ball in a way that keeps the game interesting (ie. not being one-on-one players). When you add in that Kidd was the elder stateman on the 2008 Olympic team, the grease who kept the wheels moving, or at least got the car moving, I don’t see how you keep him out (including the other factors).

    People who don’t watch the Mavs with regularity don’t think he’s good anymore. He is. He’ll make the game better. I’m glad he was selected.

  • Cynthia

    I totally agree with Kirk. Not only am I glad he was selected I also think he deserved to be selected.

  • Frontrange

    I totally disagree that he “deserved to selected” on traditional all-star merits, but he is a great pick. Hell, the All-star game should probably have a special selection of the three best role players and Kidd would definately be one of those.

  • D.J. Oster

    J Kidd deserves to be on the All Star squad. The mavs posted the third best record in the west and that is because of Dirk and J Kidd. People who continue to hate on J, just do not understand the game of basketball. When he is on the court he will dazzle, share, get the right people the ball and his presence alone will make this game more competitive making his last all star appearance a special one. If it weren’t for J Kidd, do you really think Steve Nash would have received 2 MVP’s. You can count trip dubs, rebounds, assists, steals but you can never really measure J Kidd’s game. Team USA brought him and his perfect international win record to show these young bucks how to play this game with cohesive tendencies that start on the defensive end. Yes, he can be beaten by some of the younger guards but to say J Kidd does not belong on this team is flat out stupid. Ask any of the players on the west squad? If he doesn’t get a ring in Dallas, he will be the greatest team player to never get a ring.

  • Rock

    The reason Kidd was selected is simple: it’s because he was next up in fan voting. When Stern has to pick replacement players he looks at the number of votes players received and from there he makes his pick. Not that hard to understand.