Last year, Zaza Pachulia came within just more than 14,000 votes of being an All-Star Game starter.
That was the good ol’ days, when fans got 100 percent of the say on the starters, and Pachulia’s stock was boosted by a late push with heavy voting online from his native Georgia, Wyclef Jean posting videos pushing Zaza, and since the NBA Twitterverse loves a good joke/likes to disrupt the system, everybody was in on the gag. It almost worked — he came in fourth in a race where the top three got starting spots. Zaza still beat out Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, and on and on.
Through the first few weeks of voting for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, here is where things stand for the Western Conference frontcourt:
1 Kevin Durant (GS) 987,479
2 Zaza Pachulia (GS) 823,376
3 Kawhi Leonard (SA) 630,766
4 Anthony Davis (NO) 567,201
5 Draymond Green (GS) 464,319
6 DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 379,225
7 Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 223,979
8 LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 192,784
9 Blake Griffin (LAC) 172,393
10 Marc Gasol (MEM) 172,146
Once again, Georgia is having a say. Insert your own jokes about Russian bloc country hacking an American vote here — Twitter sure did.
Sorry to disappoint the fine people in the Republic of Georgia, but this is not going stand.
In fact, this is exactly why the NBA changed the voting procedure this year. Now the fan vote counts for 50 percent, with select media members getting 25 percent, and the players getting the final 25 percent. From the NBA press release:
After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes. Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.
I don’t want to speak for the media, but safe to say Zaza isn’t going to rack up a lot of votes there. From the players? Anyone who shares his agent maybe, or somebody going Tony Allen on their ballot, but that’s about it.
Zaza is not going to be an All-Star. Sorry. But even though he’s not playing in New Orleans, he should still come. Great food, great parties. They don’t make great gumbo in Georgia.