Ah, January. The calendar has flipped over to a new year, and with it, all preconceived notions of the season-to-be. The NBA’s dog days – where players, columnists, and fans all experience fatigue in various forms – are still over a month away. And, for added measure, we’re only a month away from that delightfully irrelevant bit of defenceless theatre that is the NBA All-Star game.

Now, the merits of the All-Star game as spectacle probably depends on your level of NBA fandom – and, if you’re reading this site, chances are you’ll be tuning in on February 16th. However, the funnest – and longest – part of the entire All-Star process is the rampant speculation that precedes it. Deciding on the 12 players that will represent each conference is an odd, flawed process (the fans pick recognizable names for the starting five, winning teams are prioritized over losing ones, players sharing the same position results in odd lineups, etc.), but it’s entertaining as all hell for basketball fans, and you’re sure to see myriad mock All-Star teams over the next few weeks.

Historically, for Raptor fans, this is where we tune out. The Raptors have only had two players selected to the Eastern Conference All-Stars in their history (three if you count injury-replacement Antonio Davis), none since Chris Bosh left the team in 2010. That aforementioned Davis year (2001), is the only time the Raps have ever been represented by two players at the same game.

But this year is a weird year.

As you all know, the Eastern Conference is in shambles. The surprising Raps currently sit 4th in the standings with a 17-17 record, due in part to some surprisingly effective (and very impressive) team play and, in part to the collapse of some poorly constructed would-be contenders (Brooklyn, New York, Cleveland), and, in part, to a number of injuries to the stars of some of the East’s biggest names, including Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Al Horford, and Brook Lopez. All things considered, the Raptors are the feel-good story of the East right now – a sort of Trail Blazers-lite, if you will.

Of course, with increased prominence in the standings comes increased attention from the media below the border. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the glowing articles written by U.S. media about the Raps in recent months – the Raptors are a great story, and an excellent departure for a basketball mediasphere dying to write about something positive with the rash of injuries and struggling big-market teams.

Now, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. One fun off-shoot of increased attention from the league, combined with a host of injured stars and solid team play? All-Star speculation.

For the Raptors, this speculation has focused on a few players: DeMar DeRozan has had the most sustained push, mostly due to an uptick in his numbers pre-Gay trade and some increasingly unselfish play post-Gay trade; Kyle Lowry, who is having a career season and is likely the most important cog in what has been an extremely well-oiled machine over the last month and a bit; and Amir Johnson, who Raptor fans love (for good reason), but who doesn’t have the numbers nor the attention of NBA coaches and media to merit a spot.

As I see it (and I look forward to being proven wrong in the comments), the Raptors have two legitimate threats to make the All-Star game this season: DeRozan and Lowry. I’m speculating on speculation, here, but expect to see roughly 1,000 columns from Canadian media outlets over the next month debating the merits of the two players, and, ultimately, which one deserves to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team over the other.

However, I’m going to pre-emptively get out of the mire and offer another option: could both players be selected this season?


To properly answer this question, there are two factors that need to be addressed: the selection process, and the relative position of the contenders for the backcourt spots that Lowry and DeRozan would inhabit. First, the selection: for those who don’t know, NBA All-Star starters are chosen by a fan vote, and the remaining positions are then selected through a poll of NBA head coaches. Fans are responsible for choosing two guards and three forwards to represent each conference, while the coaches select two more guards, three more frontcourt players, and two “wild cards.”

The NBA’s just released their third returns for the starting spots, and, for the East, there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of suspense: barring injury, Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving will start in the backcourt, while LeBron James, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony occupy the forward spots. These players – plus Pacers centre Roy Hibbert – are the only ones that can rightfully be considered All-Star “locks” at this point of the season, leaving an incredible 6 spots up for debate, and no clear favourites among the pack.

Assuming Hibbert takes a frontcourt spot off the East’s bench, the remaining All-Star selections will be comprised of two guards, two frontcourt players, and two “wild cards” – leaving four potential spots for DeRozan and/or Lowry to fight for amidst a pool of contenders, including:

  • John Wall: name recognition and one of the highest PERs amidst players in the conference. Out of this entire group, it’d be the most surprising if he weren’t included, particularly with the lack of star power expected in the East’s lineup this year.
  • Arron Afflalo: His numbers are comparable, if not better, than DeMar’s over the course of the year. Loses points for playing on a very poor Magic squad.
  • Kemba Walker: He’s had a breakout season for a surprisingly competent Charlotte team – however, I just can’t see him making this team without a significant push from the media. Charlotte, like Toronto, tends to get forgotten about in the big picture.
  • Lance Stephenson: You’d almost hope the coaches pick him so he can play alongside Dwyane Wade. His triple-doubles are impressive, and the coaches may choose to reward a Pacer team that’s been dominant thus far with a third spot.
  • Jeff Teague: Averaging 8 assists per game for a Hawks team that’s saved the East from some “worst conference ever” discussion. I’d imagine his candidacy will come down to how well the team stays together in the next month following Al Horford’s injury.
  • Michael Carter-Williams: For some reason, I haven’t read his name in many All-Star speculation pieces yet, but his numbers are supremely impressive. That said, rookies don’t typically make the All-Star game, unless they’re playing out of their minds, and he’s missed a third of the season.
  • Deron Williams: Hey, don’t discount the fact that he plays for a New York team and people know who he is. That said, I have more faith in the coaches than that.
  • D.J. Augustin: Just kidding.

(*here are DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry‘s stats for comparison*)

So, by my count, that’s 9 players (including DeRozan and Lowry) up for what are potentially four, but probably three All-Star spots (assuming one “wild card” is a forward/centre). It’s hard to not expect Wall to get one of those available spots, which makes the chance of adding two Raptors to the squad extremely low with all other things being equal. The most likely outcome, here, is that the coaches choose to reward the Raptors by giving one of DeRozan and Lowry a spot, with the other being spurned.

But wait. What if?

  • What if, after Andre Drummond and Chris Bosh, the coaches decide to take another guard, rather than an uninspiring choice like Al Jefferson or a fourth small forward like Luol Deng?
  • What if the league chooses to consider team records and Afflalo is eliminated from consideration; or – as has been rumoured recently – he’s traded to the West? (Insider link).
  • What if the Hawks struggle and Teague falls from the conversation?
  • What if Carter-Williams and Deron Williams are discounted for being a rookie on a poor team – and, in the case of Deron, simply not being very good?
  • And, perhaps most importantly: what if the Raptors continue to win?

Now, I agree, that’s a lot of what ifs. But look through that list again – it’s not like any of those things are pie-in-the-sky fantasies: all are legitimate possibilities that very well could happen in the month to come. And, if they do, the decision would come down to Lowry, DeRozan, Walker, and Stephenson for three spots. Now, all of a sudden, we’re having a conversation: one in which the two Raptors may just be the best choices. Of my crazy hypothetical above, I’d think that Teague and Afflalo are the most likely players to remain in the discussion, and most likely to supplant one of the two Raptor choices – take one of their two paths out of the italics, if it makes the entire thing more realistic to you. Is it probable? No. Is it possible?

Hell yes, it is.

Listen: I’m not saying the Raptors will have two All-Stars this season. I’m just saying they could. And, for Raptor fans starved for any representation in the NBA’s February showcase, that’s music to our ears.

  • Raj

    how do you forget chris bosh as a lock for the all star game?!

    • Quest

      even though statistically he should not be in, i think that he will get in just cause of the heat… honestly millsap could make it instead of him if the keeps playing like this.

      • moe

        stats don’t measure his defensive skills. he without a doubt is the best offensive center in the east

    • BlakeMurphy

      He mentions Bosh, his list of players are guards.

  • What the

    If their last name was Ming or Lin

    • DDayLewis

      I agree that the Chinese nationality vote is frustrating, but Yao Ming deserved almost ever single one of those All Star appearances.

      • mountio

        Games yes, votes no. So, ya .. the result ended up being ok .. but the method was way off

        • DDayLewis

          1.7 billion hoops fans in China. It’s bound to happen

  • ibleedpurple

    I think Derozan will make it as a coaches selection and Teague will be taken over Lowry. The only way to know that Kyle Lowry is actually more important to the Raptors success than Derozan is to actually watch the Raptors play. If you were to base you decisions on stats then Derozan would definitely get the call over Lowry. Its similar in a very dissimilar way to the David Lee over Steph Curry fiasco last year.

    • DDayLewis

      Whaaaa?

      “Stats” won’t characterize Derozan as an all-star over Lowry, only narrative and old-timey beliefs will.

      • tweed8

        lol “old-timey”

    • JayTeam

      The Win Share stat says Lowry has been the most valuable guard in the entire East thus far and 8th biggest contributor in the entire league, Demar is around #50 overall.
      http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2014_advanced.html

      • mountio

        True … but PER would put him as the 12th most valuable PG (and roughly 40th overall). Still ahead of DD but probably a more accurate determinant of Lowry’s value in the league. A very good PG, top half for sure … but behind some of the true stars in the league – many of whom are injured, but none hte less
        Rose, westbrook, parker irving, paul, lillard, curry, wall, conley, bledsoe. KL is right in the group with conley, bledsoe,lawson, isiah thomas in my view (still not a bad place to be). Amazing how almost all of these guys are in the west.

        • JayTeam

          PER is mostly an offensive stat and I will concede it may be a better measure to pick a player for the All Star game where defence is next to non-existent. Win Shares tries to encompass players values as a GM would, weighing both offensive and defensive contributions.

          • mountio

            True .. except that Lowry shines in Offensive win shares (3rd in PGs behind CP3 and Lillard) and 8th overall .. whereas in defensive win shares hes 5th (behind curry? hill, cp3 and rubio?) …
            So, seems like more of a methodology differential than an offense / defense thing … (and the list on PER seems to make more sense to me)

            • DDayLewis

              Both stats love Lowry for his ability to shoot an above average TS% and generate assists while turning it over so rarely. TO’s are much more penalized, and therefore the absence of TO’s are much more rewarded in the Win Shares formula, so that’s why Lowry’s offensive WS appears a bit skewed.

              As for defensive win shares, the formula factors in team performance, so the fact that the Raptors have the 6th best defense in the league, and that Lowry has played such a significant number of minutes plays a significant positive bearing in his individual stats. That’s also why Demar’s defensive win shares are up.

              • JayTeam

                I believe Lowry is at or near the top of the leaderboard in taking charges, which helps his defensive stats also.

                • DDayLewis

                  Yeah he leads the league. He’s something like 20 up on the next closest player. I can’t find the stats on this. He’s had a history of being a good charge taker. Hoopdata used to track this stuff, and he was always good for his position.

                  However, as far as I’m aware, charges drawn isn’t factored into the aforementioned formulas, at least not in a direct way.

                • JayTeam

                  The ability to properly take a charge is huge asset. The charge Lowry took on Hibbert in the Indy game and the charge Livingston took on Lebron last night are 2 recent examples. Pretty much sealed victories for the Raps and Nets.

                • JayTeam

                  Thanks for the link. Amazing that only 4 players in the entire league have drawn even half as many charges as Lowry’s 19.

  • RaptorFan

    I think Demar is almost a lock to get picked by the coaches and he will make the All-Star team this year. Just look at the attention he receives from opposing teams. He’s often the focus of their entire defence. Opposing coaches have noticed him and have BEEN game planning for him for a while! I think this would be a huge step in his development and confidence.
    There’s a very good chance that both Demar and Kyle make the team this year. We just need to go on a nice winning streak to get further recognition.

    • JayTeam

      Is there any proof Demar is ever the focus of any teams entire defence or is that just your opinion?

      • Saskatoon Raps Fan

        He might have exaggerated a bit, but watch the games, demar is clearly the player opposing defenses are focusing the most on, which does imply that the defensive game plan at least starts with him most nights

      • rapsfan121212

        Proof? How about the double teams? How about cuz opposing teams usually put their best defender on him? Do you even watch raptor games?

  • j bean

    I’m not disappointed if they don’t make it. I like the no all star, no ego, all for one approach.
    That said D.Williams over Lowry? Not if you follow the games.
    How about DD, KL with JV and TR on the sophomores.

    • tweed8

      Both Lowry and Derozan come off as pretty level headed. I don’t know that being selected as All Stars would blow up their egos and may just help to boost confidence in play and help validate the work they’ve done. This isn’t to say I couldn’t be wrong of course. I just think one or two of our guys going to the All Star game wouldn’t be such a terrible thing on the road to a playoff spot. Hell send Terrence to the three point contest too. It’s about to time the Raps made some noise in the league.

      • j bean

        Being an all star is never a negative but having two all stars would take away from the underrated profile they have with most fans around the league.
        In the playoffs we’ll see if they fold under the pressure or develop the confidence to go further the following year. A young team like this probably takes three good runs to become true contenders.

    • Nathan

      Great point. 4 players involved would make a ton of noise about our teams potential heading to playoffs. May even lead to favorable ref calls for once.

  • TheR3dMenace

    I know it’s too far along to get our guys voted in, but let’s try to get their numbers up as supplementary evidence for their coaches selection

  • tank

    Derozan in and that’s it. ITs very clear that Lowry will not get in. Even though he’s haven a great year to many pre determined all stars at the point guard position. I think that Irving doesn’t deserve to go as he’s really just been a shooter for Cleveland this year and his defense is putrid.

  • Paul

    I don’t want Lowry to make it. He’ll only demand more money in the off season if he does.

  • Quest

    lowry has a good chance of making it. the recent mvp ladder was released, and lowry was on at #10! But i still believe that DeMar will make it in, he is a top 3 sg in the east with wade and afflalo.

  • c_bcm

    a great post Tim. Not all doom and gloom afterall.

  • Shadow Of Christ

    The funny thing is that before Rudy Gay was traded, some friends and I were joking about the idea of Lowry and DeRozan making the ASG before Gay does… Now here we are…

    It’s really not too far fetched. Had the East been playing to potential and if there weren’t as many injuries, we would have a different story… But the fact remains that ever since Gay got shipped out, Lowry and DeRozan have been putting up All Star numbers.

    I won’t say that either one or both will make it for sure… But people will be hard pressed to leave either one of them off the team… AND we can finally say that we have an All Star(s) that’s not Vince Carter, Chris Bosh or Antonio Davis.

  • Pingback: Could DeMar DeRozan AND Kyle Lowry make the All-Star game? | Garrett Hinchey: Online()

  • JB_S

    ross for 3 point contest! #LETROSSSHOOT

  • Mugsy

    If Bosh and Hibbert are the two locks for forward/center spots then one wild card could go to Milsap. In that way Milsap and Teague are probably the main competition to Lowry and Derozan. Similar numbers and importance to their respective teams. Most likely scenario is that each team gets one selection. The media will def be paying attention to the standings, so if either team has a losing streak or winning streak that might tip the scales for two selections for either team.

  • Tamberlyn Richardson

    Great article. I agree with you and think its not only possible but probable they’ll both make the squad.

    DeMar is the likely lock based on a couple of factors:

    1) He definitely is the number one priority of teams (& that’s not me speculating, opposing coaches say so)

    2) Watching NBA Game Time & listening to analysts they pretty much always pinpoint DeMar first when discussing the Raps. The fact his assists, rebounds, defense and leadership have all taken steps up bode well to cement his place in New Orleans.

    3) Plus his dunking ability and high light possibility will make for good TV.

    But I believe Kyle has a very good chance of making the team for several reasons as well:
    1) Just this past week Lowry entered the conversation for MVP at 10th on the list

    2) Coaches are making these picks and they KNOW it’s often Kyle who is making the critical shot to stop runs spearhead a comeback and/or he is the guy taking the charge or making the defensive stop.

    3) The East will need more than one point guard. Since no natural PG looks to be voted in the coaches will need to add at least 2, Wall should be a shoo-in which leaves a choice between Teague and Lowry.

    The key point here is Toronto’s next 7 games are all against sub 500 teams and only 2 (LAC & Denver) who are above 500 in the 11 games they play to finish January. In contrast the Hawks will face Miami, San Antonio and OKC in their remaining January schedule plus play the improved Brooklyn in London . The Hawks also have 3 fewer games to finish the month which means if Toronto takes care of business they’ll not only pass Atlanta but gain several games on them as the 3 seed.

    Furthermore Kyle’s numbers are not only comparable to Teague but better than his since the trade and with the glut of cellar dwellers on tap his numbers should start to eclipse Teague.

    I’m not even sure Teague would be the Hawk player appointed to play given Milsap has been the main guy making the difference for Atlanta since Horford’s injury.

    The point you make about Carter-Williams is valid but since he’ll play in the Rising Stars game I doubt he’ll also garner a spot in the main game especially given Philly’s record.

    The fact is Toronto could actually find themselves seeing four Raptors participating in All Star Weekend because Ross and Valanciunas will most certainly be in the Rising Stars Game.

    Ultimately if Toronto does as I suspect over these next 11 games they’ll surpass Atlanta putting the coaches in a tough spot not to send at least two Raptors especially given how they’ve played since the trade.

  • Philoveritas

    I’m thinking Demar gets the nod over Lowry if it comes down to that simply because Demar has All Star Weekend pedigree where Lowry not so much. Maybe they can entice Demar to compete in a third dunk contest and go for that elusive title.