The NBA All-Star selection process has had two major changes over the past five years, but only the most recent change kept Embiid from starting and being selected to the 2017 All-Star team. Before the 2016-17 season All-Star starters were completely decided by the fans. Embiid had 922,174 fan votes, which would have been enough for him to be a starter in any season before the 2016-17 season, because he had the third most votes of any player that are part of the front court.
While all the players that made the team do deserve to be there, not having one center make the Eastern Conference All-Star team does seem like a big issue. Every team in the NBA needs at least one center, and it’s ridiculous for what is supposed to be a team made of the best players in the Eastern Conference to not have one. This would not have happened five years ago when the NBA required every All-Star team to have one starting center. If the NBA required each All-Star team to have a starting center, Embiid likely would’ve made the team even with players and media being half of the decision making process, because Embiid is currently one of the best centers in the East. Among centers in the Eastern Conference Embiid is second in points per game, ninth in rebounds per game, sixth in assists per game, and first in blocks per game.
“Having a center is the only specific position that was singled out on the ballot. It just seemed a little outdated and didn’t represent the way our game has evolved,” former Vice President of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson said explaining why the NBA decided to stop giving centers a reserved starting spot in the NBA All-Star game.
Before the 2012-13 season, the NBA All-Star game had point guards and shooting guards share two starting guard spots, small forwards and power forwards share two starting forwards spots, and centers had their own starting spot and didn’t have to share with any other position.
Both the current and old All-Star selection process treated players that played certain positions unfairly, so the NBA should create a new system where point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center each have their own starting spot for both All-Star teams, but positions would not matter for bench players and coaches would still decide what players should be reserves.
If the NBA required each position be given an All-Star starting spot, the Eastern Conference starters would have been Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Joel Embiid.
Real All-Star starters Jimmy Butler and Giannis Antetokounmpo would’ve still made the team as reserves, but real reserve Kemba Walker or Paul Millsap wouldn’t have made it. Being the best player at your position in the Eastern or Western conference should be enough to get you a starting spot in the All-Star game, and hopefully the NBA will consider making changes to the All-Star selection process to keep issues like Embiid’s snub from happening in the future.