Stephen Curry starting the All-Star Game should not matter.
After all, it is a popularity contest and the guard ahead of him in the Western Conference voting is a first ballot Hall of Famer who will have logged 177 minutes this entire season when voting closes. Heck, Keith Smart used to play Monta that many minutes per night.
On top of that, as great as he has been, Stephen Curry has not been the best guard in the Western Conference or even the best Point Guard in the Western Conference thus far in 2013-14. Chris Paul (the man Curry passed in the voting today) has been simply great this season and it would be a shame for the single best guard in the conference to not start, even though the sting of that would be reduced somewhat due to CP3’s injury and the fact that a six week prognosis likely takes him out of it anyway.
Winning a popularity contest should not matter but it does. Stephen Curry being selected to start the All-Star Game would signify a few different things that are actually meaningful:
First, it would formally mark the transition of this Golden State Warriors team from popular underdog to relevant Western Conference contender without any feeling that they are a novelty or fluke. The addition of Andre Iguodala made this a reality but it understandably took the general public a little longer to catch on. That happens. We will still see national media types surprised that this team can actually play defense (at this point, they are a better defensive team than offensive team with the #FullSquad) but the transfer from underdog to something closer to established would be a nice moment for the organization. I remember looking in the Warriors practice facility my first time in there years ago and chuckling a little to myself at the big gap after Latrell Sprewell on the All-Star list for the team. While David Lee broke that ignominious streak last season, getting a starter in the game would be a whole different thing. Even though popular perception will not win this team a single game, it will yield long-term benefits in terms of getting free agents and even more national TV games in the future should raise the profile of the organization.
Second, he deserves it. Even though Stephen Curry has been the second-best PG in the West, he has also had the second-best season of any guard in the conference. James Harden has been good but the Baby-Faced Assassin has taken it up a level while Harden has stayed about where he was and likely stepped down just a little from a fabulous season. Being below Curry should hardly be considered a slight.
With Stephen Curry on the court, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions and had an offense that would be first in the NBA. That includes the brutal stretch without Andre Iguodala. Without Stephen Curry on the floor, the Warriors have been outscored by 11.2 points per 100 possessions and that offense prorated would be the worst in the league by a margin greater than the gap between last place (Milwaukee) and eleventh (Denver/Atlanta). [Stats from nbawowy.com] On a team full of quality players, Steph has proven to be both incredibly good and incredibly valuable.
Even though it should not matter because the All-Star Game is an exhibition that no one has been stupid enough to make determine home-court advantage, it actually does matter in this circumstance. This season, Stephen Curry has done more than just justify making the All-Star team – he deserves to be selected as a starter.