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NBA to remove center designation from All-Star ballot

Oct 24, 2012, 12:49 AM EDT

All-Star Ballot (2011) Getty Images

It’s about time.

For years the All-Star ballot has played this silly game — Tim Duncan would play the center role for the Spurs, as he has done pretty much since David Robinson retired, but he and the team would insist he be listed as a forward on the ballot. The play of big men has evolved over the years and while there are traditional centers — Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert — we will see Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett at the five spot this year.

In response, the NBA is eliminating the center position from the All-Star ballot starting this year, something David Aldridge wrote on NBA.com Tuesday night, among other media reports. (If the NBA is putting it up on their own site, you can pretty much take this as fact.)

The league will announce Wednesday a change to its All-Star ballot that will, for the first time, allow fans to vote for three undefined “frontcourt” players instead of having to vote for two forwards and a center. With more and more teams playing smaller than in the past, the definition of “center” was becoming increasingly difficult — not to mention finding enough quality big men for whom to vote….

“It makes sense,” (NBA VP of Basketball Operations Stu) Jackson said. “It made sense to our Competition Committee. 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 It just seemed a little outdated and didn’t represent the way our game has evolved. By the same token, it also affords the same opportunity, if you have two good centers in a given year, pick ‘em both. They both can be selected. Which is impossible right now.”

This is the right move. So now when you get the ballot you will vote for two guards and three frontcourt players for each conference.

What will that mean for the voting? Good question. One would think Dwight Howard would still be a lock to be voted in out West, but in the East will Andrew Bynum still make it? He likely started if you had to vote for a center (he would beat out Roy Hibbert or Brook Lopez) but now people could just vote Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Chris Bosh (all forwards before) and leave Bynum out. It will be interesting to watch.

A collection of handpicked media members are meeting starting Wednesday to pick what players will be on the ballot. Because of the logistics of printing and distributing the ballots to NBA arenas by Nov. 13 (when voting opens) the names have to be chosen before the season even starts. That inevitably leads to a few people on the ballot who shouldn’t be and somebody being overlooked who starts out hot. And trust me, we will be pointing that out when it happens here at PBT. But we’ll acknowledge that task is impossible to do that far in advance.

On the bright side, at least now they don’t have to pick out centers. And we don’t have to vote for them.

  1. eventhorizon04 - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:12 AM

    Makes sense, in part because of all of the power forwards playing center nowadays, and in part because there are so few quality centers anymore, especially in the East.

    In terms of true centers in the East, you have Andrew Bynum, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, and Joakim Noah; and then you have power forwards playing center like Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett.

    Bynum is a perennial injury risk; Hibbert’s best season yet was last year when he averaged 13 points-9 rebounds; Lopez (offense), Noah (defense), and Chandler (defense) are mainly 1-dimensional, and Monroe is promising but still developing.

    In the West, the situation is better with Howard, Gasol, Jefferson, Lee, Cousins, etc., but the league as a whole doesn’t have tremendous depth in terms of quality, two-way centers.

    • eventhorizon04 - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:14 AM

      Heck – Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are Hall of Fame power forwards past their prime, yet the league has so few quality centers that when they play center, they immediately become two of the better centers in the NBA, despite being over age 35.

      That’s a testament to how great they both are, but also a sign of how few big men can both play defense and contribute on offense nowadays.

      • gugurich - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:33 AM

        Off-topic but like Kurt said, Duncan hasn’t been a center since Robinson retired. Even when Robinson was still active, Duncan still played center a lot of the time. I’m not sure what center really means but I think part of it is being the biggest guy on the floor for his team and he’s been that for most of his career. The center or power forward argument bothers me because it’s an rigged way to get Duncan away from the comparison of great big men like Robinson, Hakeem, Kareem, Shaq, Olajuwon and so on who were centers. Duncan’s an all-timer but he doesn’t stand out quite so well amongst so-called centers because the shotblocking advantage he enjoys over most power forwards vanishes.

      • kavika6 - Oct 26, 2012 at 4:10 AM

        Being the tallest on the floor doesn’t always make you a center. But it doesn’t matter if Tim Duncan is listed as a center, power forward or whatever, he is still first team all-NBA in history.

  2. adeedothatswho - Oct 24, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    I think we’ve finally reached the point in basketball where we aren’t setting lineups based strictly on the positions, but trying to get your best players out there and whatever leads to a cohesive unit. It’s about damn time. The game will only evolve when those in charge are willing to change things up and find a new strategy that gives them an advantage. This is an exciting time for basketball.

  3. davidly - Oct 24, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I honestly don’t think it matters either way.

  4. manchestermiracle - Oct 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    Why stop there? Why not just have voters list their five best choices? Why does it need to be broken down by position? Way back in 1980 Magic Johnson played all five positions in the Finals’ deciding game for his first ring.

  5. royistheboy - Oct 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    They got it partially right IMO. I would rather have it set up to vote for 1 point guard, 2 “wings” and 2 “bigs.” It’s much easier to group players together this way. The way it is now, few SGs also play PG. Its much more common to see SGs that easily slide over to SF, so they should be grouped together instead. Same can be said for PF being grouped together with C instead of SF. Plus, this way your starting unit would automatically have an elite PG in it so you can see plenty of ridiculous passes that we all know and love the ASG for.

  6. mojosmagic - Oct 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Figures. The Sixers finally get a center and now the NBA declares the position dead.

    • southbeachtalent - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      good stuff man!

  7. numba1recx19 - Oct 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    Greg Monroe > Roy Hibbert

    • money2long - Oct 24, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      could be a toss up…especially if one values size. also, consider who has more of a paint presence on defense. paint defense is huge, especially in this day and age of where we have so many talented guards and forwards who like to beat their men and take it to the rack.

  8. mkdave23 - Oct 24, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    It think a more appropriate division would be: A Point Guard, 2 wings, and 2 bigs. ‘Frontcourt’ seems to leave the door too open to starting 3 high scoring small forward types, which would make the all-star game yet more ridiculous.

    • katra2logic - Oct 24, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      The All Star ballot is a joke already, this just dumbs it down a little more…

      • money2long - Oct 24, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        u already know lin geting his boys in asia to vote and spread the word. i think solely off the size of that continent, lin has a chance to be an all star this season, regardless of how he plays. all star voting has its flaws.

      • tashkalucy - Oct 24, 2012 at 9:46 PM

        The entire NBA is a joke, and if you think it can’t be dummied down any more, just listen to the player interviews and the O’neal and Barkley do their WWF TV announcer controversy commentary.

  9. 69jaredallen69 - Oct 24, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Would love NBA fans to give Dwight the ultimate FU and not vote him on the roster after his cry baby attitude last year

    • tashkalucy - Oct 24, 2012 at 9:47 PM

      Yes, that is what the NBA has evolved to.

      All gossip….all the time.

  10. kavika6 - Oct 26, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Good move. I’m sick of seeing such a pathetic choice of centers while many great forwards miss out.

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