Lowe’s 10 things: Quit the All-Star whining


It’s time for another Friday meetup:

1. Whining about All-Star snubs

There is an unearned incredulousness to so much of the whining over All-Star snubs. Russell Westbrook wagged his finger at coaches for failing to squeeze Paul George onto the Western Conference team — as if only a group of morons could omit George. He even took a veiled shot at Damian Lillard‘s All-Star campaigning, without naming Lillard (of course).

Anyone with a powerful voice — player, coach, media member, agent — sounding off about an All-Star snub with this level of sneering righteousness should be required to disclose who they would leave off the 12-man roster. Let’s hear it, Russ: Do you cut Lillard? On what grounds? One of the Warriors? Which one?

You get 12 roster spots. Not 15. Not infinity. Twelve. There are more than a dozen worthy players in each conference. George made my roster, but if you actually follow the rules and list every candidate, it’s clear he’s not a no-brainer.

Bruce Bowen, the Clippers’ color analyst, lamented during a game last weekend that Lou Williams wouldn’t make the team even though he belonged. Jeff Schwartz, perhaps the most powerful agent in the NBA, released a statement chastising coaches for leaving off Andre Drummond — a Schwartz client. (I had Drummond on my team, too.) The same rule should apply here: Who does an aggrieved agent or broadcaster remove?

Most of the complainers have a benign agenda: They are defending clients and teammates. They aren’t clinicians, and they probably aren’t combing through the All-Star pool player-by-player. They want to make someone important to them feel better. That’s fine! Westbrook’s rousing monologue apparently deepened his bond with George in a way that could change the Thunder’s long-term trajectory.

Still: There is a way to say your guy is deserving without claiming the voting pool has committed some grave injustice. Hammer the voters, and you should go through the same exercise they did in choosing the teams.

2. The state of Wilson Chandler

Denver can’t seem to find a groove. Injuries have contributed; we won’t know what this team is until Paul Millsap returns. But Chandler’s drop-off has chipped away at their depth and lineup flexibility. After years of hip issues, Chandler looks like he aged five years over one summer (at least before he broke out a bit against the Knicks on Thursday).

He’s shooting just 42 percent, and an ugly 32.5 percent from deep, and there are nights when he just doesn’t do anything. His usage rate has dropped from 20 percent all the way to 14.6 percent, by far the lowest mark of his career — a rate we’d normally associate with a role player who rarely touches the ball.

Chandler’s herky-jerky, Eurosteppy one-on-one game isn’t leading anywhere good; he’s shooting just 14-of-40 on isolations, per Synergy Sports, and he never gets to the line. (He’s solid on defense, and he always plays hard. Chandler is a great teammate.)

Chandler is probably best now as a small-ball power forward, but Denver is already crowded at that position. Chandler has a $12.8 million player option for next season, and what he does with it will have a huge impact on Denver’s cap-and-tax situation. Chandler is at the age where he might opt out to secure more long-term money, but if he keeps playing like this, he may not find a long-term deal to his liking.

3. Utah’s starting five

It might be time to pull the plug on the Ricky RubioDerrick FavorsRudy Gobert trio. The Jazz know it too, which is why they pull the in-game plug three or four minutes into each half.

Utah has scored just 90.5 points per 100 possessions with those three on the floor — dead last among 500-plus trios that have logged at least 275 minutes together, per NBA.com. That is a full 10 points below Sacramento’s league-worst overall offense — equivalent to the gap between the Kings and the No. 4 Raptors. (Congrats to the Kings, by the way, for jumping out of the basement in points allowed per possession so that they are not dead last on both sides of the ball. And congrats to the Cavs for finally sinking to the bottom on defense!)

Opponents have outscored Utah by almost 16 points per 100 possessions in the 278 minutes those three have played together. Only six of those 500-plus trios have worse scoring margins. (Four of those six come from Sacramento.)

Favors thrived as a rim-running center when Gobert missed extended time, but he’s miscast playing alongside the French Rejection — at least given the present state of Utah’s perimeter talent. When Favors slides to center, about 57 percent of his shots come in the restricted area, per NBA.com. That drops below 40 percent when Favors plays alongside Gobert.

Favors spots up in the corner, but no one cares, and they shouldn’t; Favors is 5-of-24 on 3s, though he has told me is optimistic he will hit more next season after a year experimenting. Chilling there also takes him far from the rim; the twin towers look has barely nudged Utah’s anemic offensive rebounding rate.

Favors’s pick-and-pop long 2s don’t scare defenses. His post-up game — a method of manufacturing spacing when there is none — has stalled out; Favors is just 9-of-30 on post-up shots this season, per Synergy Sports.

The rise of Donovan Mitchell has relegated Rubio to more off-ball duty, and there may no perimeter guy worse suited to off-ball duty than Rubio. Teams don’t even pretend to guard him anymore.

It’s easier to suggest a lineup change from the outside than it is to make one. Rubio may be a Jazz man next season (not a certainty, by the way), and Utah is likely wary of crushing his confidence by benching him — and moving Mitchell to point guard. Potential replacements for Rubio are uninspiring, especially with Rodney Hood dealing with another case of Rodney Hood-itis. Thabo Sefolosha, a fill-in starter at multiple positions, is out for the season.

Starting Jonas Jerebko or Joe Johnson in Favors’ place might be the easiest fix, but those guys aren’t saving Utah’s season. The trade deadline might provide a solution.

4. Jimmy Butler, bank shot artiste

For someone who plows toward buckets with a shoulder-checking brutality, Butler has a buttery-soft angled bank shot he likes to use in the post:


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