Luka Doncic will start the All-Star Game on March 7 because the fans want him to.
The fan All-Star vote for Western Conference guards had Stephen Curry first and Doncic second, the two starters, with Damian Lillard third. While the players and media both voted Lillard ahead of Doncic, the fan vote both counts for half of the vote total (media and players 25% each) and serves as a tie-breaker. Lillard and Doncic were tied on points, but the Dallas guard gets the start because he won the fan vote. Which has pissed off fans in Portland.
When asked about it Saturday, Doncic said he was surprised because Lillard “deserved” the start.
Luka Doncic on All-Star voting results: “I didn’t expect that I was going to start this game. I know that maybe [Damian] Lillard deserved it more than me.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 20, 2021
That was honest and genuine of Doncic.
Lillard’s reaction was mostly a shrug, as reported by Jamie Hudson at NBC Sports Northwest.
“When I was younger I cared a lot more,” Lillard said following Friday’s practice. “Obviously, that’s an accomplishment to be an All-Star starter. It’s something that I haven’t done, so of course, I would like to have been named the starter, but I honestly wasn’t surprised…
“That’s just what the reality is. I think for a lot of people who are saying [they are shocked by the result], they’ve taken notice of what I’ve done in the Bubble and what I’ve done this year.”
Doncic starting is not a shock, and he also is deserving. He is a First-Team All-NBA player last season — and for me and a lot of others casting votes, last season and last playoffs count in this, it’s not just who had the best first half of this season — averaging 29.1 points, 9.4 assists, and 8.6 rebounds a game this season. If the argument for Lillard is “look at the load he has to carry,” then it applies to Doncic as well: His team has been hit hard by injuries and COVID-19, shaking up the Dallas roster and forcing the young Slovenian to take on a huge load (he has a higher usage rate than Lillard).
As I said on the PBT podcast, I voted for Lillard over Doncic as an All-Star starter, but this is not some unreasonable choice. It’s not like Alex Caruso or Luguentz Dort — both quality role players but not All-Stars — got the start.
It’s an exhibition. If the fans want to see Doncic start, let Doncic start. Lillard will be in Atlanta as a reserve anyway, and he can cry all the way to the bank with his max contract.