All-Star vote FAQ: Did the NBA's new format get things right?

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Friday, January 20, 2017

Having a hard time understanding the new NBA All-Star votingprocess? Here's a few answers to some questions you might have after the first year in a new system caused some controversy.

Q: How could Russell Westbrook not be voted as a starter? He's averaging a triple-double!

A: Only two guards can start, and with James Harden, Stephen Curry and Westbrook, someone was bound to get left out. Had it been Curry, his fans would be upset. The direct answer is that the fans preferred Curry, who finished first in fan voting. Although Westbrook's peers and the media felt he should've started over Curry, it wasn't enough.

Q: How was that determined?

A: The new system is weighted: Fan vote counts for 50 percent, players' vote 25 percent and media vote 25 percent. Westbrook was third in fan voting and first with both the players and media. Curry was first in fan vote and third in media and players.

Q: I just did the math and that means that Curry and Westbrook tied with a 2.0 average ranking using those percentages. So why are Curry and Harden starting?

A: That's right. If there's a tie, the fan vote is the tiebreaker. Harden ended up with a 2.0 average too -- the lower the number, the better -- he finished second among fans, media and players. Curry and Harden won the tiebreaker. It was close but Westbrook lost out.

Q: Why even change the system in the first place?

A: Because social media voting might be easily corrupted by ballot-stuffing robots and celebrities forming alliances with players using their fanbases, many of whom probably don't care about the NBA, to change the vote. Golden State'sZaza Pachulia, a nice player but not an All-Star, almost got voted in last year this way. This year Pachulia was second in the fan vote among frontcourt players in the West. Under last year's rules he'd have been starting. But the players voted him 12th and the media 10th so his average was 6.5 and he missed out.

Q: What happened with Dwyane Wade?

A: The fans wanted to see him start for the 11th time in the past 13 years, he was second in fan voting. But the players and the media voted him sixth and it pulled his average down. Wade's game has been slipping for the past few years. The fans clearly love him, but the media's and players' check and balance caught him. There's a chance he will not be an All-Star for the first time since 2004.

Q: What about Isaiah Thomas? He was voted No. 1 by the media and No. 2 by the players...

A:But No. 4 by the fans. This is interesting, the fans preferred to see Wade start, but they voted DeMar DeRozan third. That ended up being a tiebreaker because Thomas and DeRozan tied in ranking average. See, the fans still have a big say.

Q: Does a player's bias show up?

A: It looks like it. It seems players don't like Warriors players very much. Klay Thompson was fourth in fan vote and fourth in media vote, but the players voted him way back, in eighth. Draymond Green was fifth in fan vote and ninth in player vote. Andre Iguodala was ninth in fan vote, sixth in media vote but way, way, way back (22nd) in player vote.

Q: So the players were sending a message?

A: Not exactly. Some of the player voting was ridiculous and they seemed to be mocking the process. Mo Williams, who hasn't played a game and has been traded twice, got a vote. Milwaukee'sKhris Middleton, who has been out all season because of injury, got one. So did Kings rookie Georgios Papagiannis, who has played in two games. There were lots of votes like this. The players can submit joke votes just like fans.

Q: Is this style of voting going away?

A: No way. The NBA is breathing a sigh of relief. Had the new system not been approved there would be howls about Pachulia starting over Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard. Instead, the league caught the trend just in time.