The NBA released the list of players that will serve as reserves for the 2018 NBA All-Star game Tuesday and for the second straight year, the Miami Heat will not have a representative in the Association’s mid-season showcase.
The seven Eastern Conference reserves were New York forward Kristaps Porzingis, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, Cleveland forward Kevin Love, Boston center Al Horford, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo and Washington guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Miami guard Goran Dragic was missing from the list despite his averaging team high’s in points (17.3) and assists (4.9).
The case for Dragic’s snub isn’t necessarily rooted in stats, though.
With the exception of Lowry, the guards that were named reserves – Beal, Wall, and Oladipo – all are averaging more points per contest than Dragic does. Wall and Lowry both average more assists while Beal and Oladipo each grab more rebounds per night than Dragic does.
Where Dragic’s absence from the roster can be questioned is on the merits of wins.
Dragic’s nightly impact has led the Heat to the No. 1 spot in the Southeastern Division with a 27-20 record – just a half game behind Cleveland, which has two All-Stars.
Washington too, has a pair of representatives even though it sits a full game behind the Heat in the standings; the seventh seed Pacers are represented as are the Knicks, who are currently six games below .500 and wouldn’t be a playoff team if the postseason began this week.
The Heat, who haven’t had an All-Star since the 2015-16 season (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), have won nine of their past 12 games – including victories against the Knicks, Pacers, Raptors and two wins against the Bucks.
Miami has exceeded expectations with its performance in the first half of the season, climbing to the top half of the East even though $98 million center Hassan Whiteside; 2015 lottery pick Justise Winslow; and $52 million guard Dion Waiters have all missed time. The Heat won’t get anything from Waiters this season, as he underwent season-ending ankle surgery Tuesday.
Perhaps Dragic got overlooked because he is just one of eight Heat players that are averaging double-digit points this season. But that speaks to the brand of team basketball that Miami has played this season, with “The Dragon” leading the way on most nights.
Not everyone can be an All-Star. A big part of what makes the achievement so special is the exclusivity of it.
However, the case could be made for Dragic to at least be in the All-Star conversation.