Bradley Beal is enjoying a career year for the Eastern Conference’s third-place team, and his impact on the Washington Wizards’ success since the schedule entered December is worthy of an All-Star bid.
“I’ll never say a player doesn’t deserve to be on the all-star team,” Beal told reporters from the team’s shootaround on Thursday morning, . “For one, Carmelo is a great player. Hell, he’s been one of the best offensive threats in the league for years now, and I’m taking absolutely nothing away from him. But the process of it does not make sense. If they reward winning, then I don’t understand how the decision was made. It was kind of weird to me.”
Traditionally, NBA commissioner has chosen the player next in line in the coaches’ All-Star reserve voting, which took place in January. Those results aren’t made public, but Anthony was the highest vote-getter among fans — save for Love and fellow injured big man Joel Embiid — not to make the team when starters were named on Jan. 17. Meanwhile, Beal had 48,243 fan votes to Anthony’s 544,133.
Anthony appeared on one fewer ballot than teammate Kristaps Porzingis in the player voting, but still finished well ahead of Beal. Media members left Anthony and Beal off their ballots entirely, instead recognizing fellow snubs Porzingis, Al Horford, Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade.
One could also argue the Knicks play in the league’s largest media market, and the commissioner may have a vested interest in giving New York fans a reason to tune in on Sunday. A nine-time All-Star, three-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the league’s most recognizable names, Anthony is a bigger draw than Beal. Or maybe Silver just figured Melo had been through enough with the Knicks.
“I don’t get it,” Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, who also represents All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, among a long list of NBA players, . “The reality of it is, if the coaches took a vote today for the guy who should be in the All-Star Game, there’s no doubt in my mind it’ll be Brad. I just think it’s wrong.
“I certainly talked to the league office. We make a strong statement all the time of how winning is rewarded, and I don’t understand. There’s no team winning at a higher level than the Wizards are right now. So Brad’s in the center of all that. Nobody can question he’s playing not just at an all-star level but at an elite all-star level.”
Since the NBA announced the All-Star reserves on Jan. 26, the Wizards have surged, winning eight of nine games, while the Knicks have gone into a tailspin, dropping seven of 10. In that span, Beal has been remarkable, averaging 24.3 points on 55.3 percent shooting (45.1 percent from 3-point range), while adding 3.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds a night. Meanwhile, Anthony has averaged 26.3 points on 46.1 percent shooting (40.3 percent from 3) to go along with six rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
“I don’t know what the rules are or how everything goes, but I definitely feel I had a great opportunity,” Beal added on Thursday morning. “Being on a winning team and being able to have success and I’m playing pretty well this year, I felt like I deserved to be there, but at the end of the day it is what it is. It’s not going to determine me as a player. It’s not going to put me down for the rest of the year. … I can enjoy my break and come back full steam ahead and rolling into the playoffs.”
“Congratulations, Melo,” Whiteside told reporters after Wednesday’s win, . “I mean I don’t really know what you want me to say. Congratulations to him. … I would have loved for a center to represent the East, but that’s not the way the fans want to see it. The coaches voted him in, so I have really no control over that. I’m trying to make the playoffs. And that’s really my focus.”