Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to February 14 inclusive:
Lance Stephenson is not a happy man. The preternaturally gifted combo guard for the Indiana Pacers was left off the Eastern Conference roster for Sunday’s 2014 NBA All-Star Game (8:00 p.m. ET, TNT) in New Orleans. And Stephenson wasn’t afraid to let his feelings show. “I’m mad,” he told reporters after the reserves were announced. “I feel like I had my breakout year last year.”
Get in line, Lance. You might end up having a better career than many of the players picked ahead of you, but in 2013-14, your 15.7 PER puts you behind players like Jeff Teague (16.0 PER) and Courtney Lee (15.9 PER). So let’s take a moment to honor five guys who truly deserve the “snub” label this year, starting with one Eastern guard who’s clearly playing better than Stephenson right now.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
It was pretty much a given that Lowry (20.1 PER) wasn’t going to be added to the Eastern roster. He’s been a thorn in the side of NBA coaches for years now, but Lowry has also had to deal with some unfavorable roster situations. In Toronto, Lowry is The Man. He’s blossomed into a fantastic two-way player, leading the Raptors in Offensive Win Shares (5.8) and Defensive Win Shares (2.3). It’s criminal that Lowry was bypassed in favor of Joe Johnson (14.3 PER).
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Playing on a losing team in the East doesn’t help you in the voting, and being 20 years old doesn’t help you with the coaches. But Drummond (22.4 PER) is already the best player on his team, leading the Pistons with 3.9 OWS and 2.6 DWS. He’s also got the highest PER of any big man in the East aside from the injured Brook Lopez (25.7 PER). He could easily have made the team ahead of Roy Hibbert (16.1 PER) or even Chris Bosh (19.8 PER).
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats
Jefferson is no stranger to small-market life in the NBA. He has yet to be named to an All-Star team, toiling in relative obscurity for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Utah Jazz. Now that he’s manning the 4-spot for the Bobcats, Jefferson is once again near the top of the efficiency charts with a 22.2 PER, and he’s also turning in one of his finest two-way performances with 1.5 OWS and 2.7 DWS. That’s a lot of Win Shares for a team that isn’t winning that often.
Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
There isn’t quite as much room at the top over in the Western Conference, but there’s no question that Dragic (22.8 PER) should be playing in New Orleans this weekend. With Kobe Bryant (who was voted in as a starter, naturally) injured, Dragic leads all Western 2-guards in PER, and his excellent 5.9 OWS (plus his 1.2 DWS) has kept the Suns in the playoff hunt despite the injury to Eric Bledsoe (20.0 PER). He should have gone in ahead of Tony Parker (19.9 PER).
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento KingsNow you’ve gone and made the big man angry. Cousins might not be a model employee, but he’s one of the very best basketball players alive today. He’s fifth overall in the league with a 26.14 PER, racking up 3.0 OWS and 2.3 DWS on a Kings team that’s last in the Western Conference. What more does a guy have to do to get some credit around here? I suppose he could try to be more personable and flash that toothy grin more, just like everyone’s favorite big man, Dwight Howard (21.7 PER).