When it was announced that Nets star Kevin Durant would have to miss the All-Star game, fans immediately went to the drawing board in an attempt to figure out who might replace him.
Early candidates included Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Trae Young, and Russell Westbrook. Instead, the league announced Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis would take the spot, prompting a lot of questions and a whole lot of outcry from disappointed fans.
Among those who felt the NBA made the wrong decision was The Athletic columnist, and former Grizzlies executive, John Hollinger, who said Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were better choices.
A horrendous choice given that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo both are still alive. https://t.co/9ElrUk9LQE
— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) February 26, 2021
It sounds pretty harsh to say it’s a “horrendous” choice, but it doesn’t come without some reasoning. Earlier this month, Hollins did explain why Sabonis should have been left off the team.
And please don’t get me started on Sabonis. The case for him to make the All-Star team this year is, frankly, bizarre. The Pacers are massively better this year when he doesn’t play — outscored by 2.5 per 100 possessions with him on the court, slamming opponents by plus-12.5 when he sits. He hasn’t been as good offensively as he was a year ago, with a notable increase in missed chippies around the rim, plus opponents are pretty openly hunting him on defense. Literally, the only supporting argument is that the Pacers are one game above .500 so we should probably take somebody from their team. He hasn’t even been the best Pacer — defensive anchor Myles Turner has a much stronger case.
There is no debate that both Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are better players than Domantas who, to his credit, is averaging 21.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game.
But it seems the league is rewarding winning, and the Pacers have had a better season, overall, than the Heat.
In the end, nobody can really say he’s completely undeserving.