All-Star Criteria

By: Ravneet Singh

All-Star Weekend is upon us, and for many players this is a big weekend. For some, like Jimmy Bulter, this is a dream come true. For others, like Tim Duncan, this is a routine part of the year that won’t mean as much. Being an All-Star is an honor, but how these players are chosen isn’t really known too well. It is discussed among the public and media constantly, but what are the criteria that make an All-Star? Each coach might have a different opinion on what an All-Star is. However, these four attributes is what should make a player a NBA All-Star player.


This one is pretty obvious. If you can’t produce, you can’t be an All-Star. Statistics give some sort of idea on team production. Every All-Star averaged more than 14.8 PPG this year, and this is almost always the case in other years. Also, the top ten leading scorers in the league were all named All-Stars this year. The important question to ask is if a player produces more, should he be an All-Star over someone else with lesser production?

For example, Nikola Vucevic is producing more points and rebounds than Al Horford, yet Horford is the All-Star and not Vucevic. This may not seem fair at first, but we have to consider the fact that Vucevic is on a bad team. On a bad team an average player could produce very good stats, and an above average player could produce All-Star numbers. However, that doesn’t make he’s an All-Star caliber player.

Team’s Success

As mentioned earlier, the team you on does impact whether or not a player will be an All-Star. Coaches definitely prefer to pick a player with top production on a strong team. Of the 25 All-Star players this year, 19 of them are on playoffs teams if the playoffs were to start today.

Two of the six players that are not on playoff teams were voted in by the fans (Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony). Three of the six players may still make the playoffs in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis.

Lastly, there is Demarcus Cousins, who is arguably the best center in the league (at worst, he’s just behind Marc Gasol). He is averaging 23.7 PPG and 12.5 RPG and is just on a dysfunctional team. Demarcus, in fact, almost got snubbed. He was chosen as an injury replacement for Kobe Bryant. If Cousins was on a team that would be in the playoffs, he would have no doubt been a surefire All-Star.

Defense/Stuff that Doesn’t Show in the Stat Book

If there is one category that gets underrated more than any other, it would have to be this one. There is a reason for it too. There aren’t many defensive statistics out there and the majority of them don’t give a great indication of one’s defensive abilities or effort. Defensive rating is a good start, but a bad player on a good defensive team will have an improved rating that doesn’t indicate how good he is on the other side of the ball.

Joakim Noah is a perfect example for a player that represents this classification. He isn’t an All-Star this year, but last year when he was he was averaging 12.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 5.4 APG. Those are some nice statistics, but maybe not what is typically known as All-Star stature. It was more of his effort and his defensive leadership that not only made him an All-Star but an MVP candidate as well.

Let’s look at Damian Lillard, since he got snubbed. Did he deserve to be snubbed? Well, it’s definitely debatable. In fact, Coach Nick of BBallBreakdown believes he should have taken Russell Westbrook’s spot.

Coach Nick makes some great points. One would think Russell defensively is better by just the eye test. Per Russell’s defensive rating is 101, which is two points lower this year than Damian’s. If you consider defense as the reason why Westbrook was chosen over Lillard, then it makes complete sense.


Thanks to Kobe Bryant last year and Kevin Durant this year health has become a popular topic the last two years when making an All-Star selection. Last year Kobe Bryant played only six games, yet was named an All-Star Starter because of the fans voting him in. Durant has missed more games than he has played, although the coaches voted him in as a starter. Should there be some rule that prohibits this from happening in the future?

Charles Barkeley would likely be in favor of it. Check out what Inside the NBA had to say about Durant making the team:

“This ain’t a lifetime achievement award,” said Barkeley. Ernie Johnson responds with, “You are trying to tell me you have an All-Star game, [and] Kevin Durant shouldn’t to be in it?” Both have valuable points. How can you have an All-Star game, which is made to entertain the fans, not have a top three player in the league?

However, an All-Star game is more than just for the fans. It’s an achievement for the players. For some players this will be there only chance at being an All-Star. Others get the “lifetime achievement award,” like Kobe Bryant, and it’s not necessarily fair for those players who are having the better season.

Maybe you don’t agree with some of the traits above, and that’s fine. These four characteristics are just some of the most common ones that the majority of people consider. In the end we all have an opinion on what defines an All-Star. It probably varies from coach to coach just as it does from person to person. However, we can all agree that the All-Star game will be entertaining.