Despite a heroic effort on the court and one of the best social-media campaigns in recent memory, Joel Embiid will not be named a starter on the 2017 NBA All-Star team. The Eastern Conference’s front-court slots went to LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jimmy Butler.
Early reports from ESPN’s Chris Haynes hinted that Embiid would be on the outside looking in. James and Antetokounmpo were basically locks heading into the media and player voting portion of the festivities, and it was Butler who was the biggest beneficiary of the deemphasis on fan voting. Butler was about 57,000 votes behind Embiid at the last public reveal, or roughly 14 percent of his vote total to that point.
Brilliant as Embiid’s play has been, all three players who got the nod over him are deserving starters. If the NBA still had a designation for the center position, Embiid would have been a mild favorite to get the East’s starting spot. Alas, 2017’s setup leaves him hoping for a spot as a reserve.
Embiid did finish top-three for fan votes, and was held out of the game thanks to failing players and crooked media. Sad!
Eastern Conference All Stars, fans vs. players vs. media votes pic.twitter.com/GfsnaVbyLw— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) January 20, 2017
Had Embiid finished top-five in player voting, he would have won a starting spot over Butler thanks to the fan-vote tiebreaker.
If you’re bummed about him missing out, the good news is his recent play has absolutely strengthened his case to make the team. The Sixers are the hottest team in basketball — yes, that’s a real sentence I just wrote — and Embiid is doing unprecedented things on both ends of the court. Opposing coaches and players have shown him plenty of love throughout the year, and it’s becoming hard to ignore how big of a story he is for the league.
Filling out the rest of the starters are Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan in the Eastern Conference backcourt, along with Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Steph Curry for the Western Conference. Russell Westbrook getting snubbed in favor of Curry should make for a fun sub-plot heading into the game.
Regardless of the final verdict, Embiid’s push for a starting spot on the All-Star team in his rookie year is an accomplishment in itself. We’ll have to wait and see if he earns a reserve spot, but a colorful character like Embiid is likely to be a factor during All-Star Weekend regardless of if he’s on the team or not.
If it’s any consolation, the man himself appreciates your support:
I freaking LOVE YALL... We did it even tho it wasn't enough haha #TheProcess #NoDate pic.twitter.com/8IZkDE8AiV— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) January 20, 2017
UPDATE: Further clarity on the voting from Derek Bodner:
Joel Embiid received votes from just 43 of the 324 players who participated, which ranks 8th among Eastern Conference frontcourt players.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) January 20, 2017
Kristaps Porzingis (51 votes) and Carmelo Anthony (50 votes) both finished ahead. https://t.co/EWUCqcaVCU— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) January 20, 2017