NBA Fact or Fiction: Should Kyrie Irving represent the NBA at the 2023 All-Star Game?

NBA Fact or Fiction: Should Kyrie Irving represent the NBA at the 2023 All-Star Game?

Each week throughout the 2022-23 NBA season, we’ll dig deep into some of the league’s biggest storylines to see if trends are more fact-based or fiction-based going forward.

[Last week on Fact or Fiction: Does the NBA have a load management problem?]

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving enters the final fan voting weekend for the NBA All-Star Game with the highest tally at his position in the Eastern Conference, which has translated into a go-for gig every time since the league pulled 50% off that move. fans and split between media and players in 2017.

In other words, a player who has supported anti-Semitism and repeatedly refused to apologize or condemn it – to the point where the Nets have determined him to be “currently unfit to be associated with” them, and the Anti-Defamation League wouldn’t”in good conscience accept his gift— could well be a forward-looking representative of the NBA’s best and brightest on the world stage just months later.

I understand he apologized in an Instagram post that he has since deleted, though he never explained “specific beliefs in the documentary that I agreed with.” I understand he appeared contrite at a press conference ahead of his return from an eight-game ban, although hours later he refused to condemn a group of his supporters outside Barclays Center which expressed the same anti-Semitic beliefs as those in the film.

That brought him back to the field, where he averaged 25.8 points (48/35/91 shooting spreads), 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 33 games this season. Neither the forced apology nor his performance guarantee him a place in the all-star list, starter or not. Raising him as a face of the league so soon after perpetuating “hate speech” sends a much worse message than informing him that he can’t participate in this exhibition.

The All-Star Game is an honor, not a right. I would listen to an argument that he should participate if his future earnings are tied to his selection, but they are not, and even then I may not support his candidacy. (I’m also not one of the 100 members of the media who vote for All-Star starters. That’s just a strong opinion.)

It’s unclear if Irving deserves an All-Star nod based on his on-court play this season. Clearly he doesn’t deserve a starting spot, and the statistical case against him making the roster entirely is relatively easy.

Take the 10 best guards in the conference this season — a list that doesn’t even include recent All-Stars Dejounte Murray, Zach LaVine, Bradley Beal and LaMelo Ball — and ask yourself the following questions…

How often are they available (games played, minutes)?

  1. Jalen Brunson (43GP, 1,466MIN)

  2. DeMar DeRozan (42GP, 1,515MIN)

  3. Jaylen Brown (41GP, 1,460MIN)

  4. Donovan Mitchell (40GP, 1,445MIN)

  5. Trae young (40GP, 1,429MIN)

  6. Tyrese Haliburton (40GP, 1336MIN)

  7. Darius Garland (37GP, 1,331MIN)

  8. Holiday Jrue (34GP, 1,107MIN)

  9. Kyrie Irving (33GP, 1,211MIN)

  10. James Harden (30GP, 1,106MIN)

How many points do they produce (points per game + assist points created)?

  1. Trae young (27.2 PPG, 23.9 APC)

  2. James Harden (21.5 PPG, 29.2 APC)

  3. Tyrese Haliburton (20.2 PPG, 27.2 APC)

  4. Darius Garland (21.5 PPG, 19.2 APC)

  5. Donovan Mitchell (28.4 PPG, 12.2 APC)

  6. DeMar DeRozan (26.1 PPG, 13.2 APC)

  7. Jalen Brunson (22.6 PPG, 16.6 APC)

  8. Holiday Jrue (19.4, 19.1 PCA)

  9. Kyrie Irving (25.6 PPG, 12.5 APC)

  10. Jaylen Brown (27.2 PPG, 8.7 APC)

How effectively do they do it (player efficiency rating, percentage of true shots)?

  1. Donovan Mitchell (23.3 PER, 62.3 TS%)

  2. Tyrese Haliburton (23.3 PER, 61.3 TS%)

  3. James Harden (22.5 PER, 61.0 TS%)

  4. DeMar DeRozan (22.0 PER, 59.6 TS%)

  5. Trae young (21.8 PER, 56.7 TS%)

  6. Jalen Brunson (20.4 PER, 57.5 TS%)

  7. Kyrie Irving (20.1 PER, 58.9 TS%)

  8. Jaylen Brown (19.8 PER, 59.0 TS%)

  9. Holiday Jrue (19.7 PER, 58.0 TS%)

  10. Darius Garland (18.5 PER, 57.6 TS%)

How do they behave defensively (CraftedDPM, true defensive plus-minus)?

  1. Holiday Jrue (1.5 CDPM, -0.05 DPM)

  2. James Harden (0.7 CDPM, 1.40 DRPM)

  3. Jaylen Brown (0.5 CDPM, 1.60 DRPM)

  4. Donovan Mitchell (0.3 CDPM, 2.52 DRPM)

  5. Darius Garland (-0.1 CDPM, 0.82 DRPM)

  6. DeMar DeRozan (-0.3 CDPM, 1.27 DRPM)

  7. Kyrie Irving (-0.4 CDPM, 1.59 DRPM)

  8. Tyrese Haliburton (-0.7 CDPM, 1.29 DRPM)

  9. Jalen Brunson (-1.3 CDPM, 1.68 DRPM)

  10. Trae young (-2.3 CDPM, -1.61 DRPM)

To what extent do they have an impact on earnings (earnings shares, earnings above replacement?

  1. Donovan Mitchell (5.7 WS, 4.7 WAR)

  2. Tyrese Haliburton (5.5 WS, 5.7 WAR)

  3. DeMar DeRozan (5.1 WS, 4.1 WAR)

  4. Jalen Brunson (5.0 WS, 4.5 WAR)

  5. James Harden (4.7 WS, 5.3 WAR)

  6. Darius Garland (4.0 WS, 4.4 WAR)

  7. Trae young (3.6 WS, 5.1 WAR)

  8. Holiday Jrue (3.3 WS, 4.7 WAR)

  9. Kyrie Irving (3.3 WS, 4.2 WAR)

  10. Jaylen Brown (3.2 WS, 2.3 WAR)

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving hasn’t been selected for the All-Star Game in two of his last three seasons. (Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

I don’t know what argument you can make for Irving as an All-Star starter, other than an argument based purely on reputation, which would be quite something for someone who has done a decent job destroying his this season.

I also can’t be sure what motivated fans to make Irving the top vote-getter among the Eastern Guards. He’s added 1.2 million votes and counts since he last made an All-Star team two years ago, when he had a much better statistical resume (and hadn’t still sitting against a COVID-19 vaccine mandate).

I a m sure you can defend at least nine other guards against Irving, including Brown, whose advanced metrics don’t properly reflect his contributions to the league’s best team (and who defended his ex-teammate’s rights under the collective agreement as a fellow union leader). We don’t even need to assess how much Brooklyn’s fortunes fluctuate when Kevin Durant isn’t associated with Irving.

Brown, like a handful of other worthy candidates, has appeared in 20% more of his team’s games this season than Irving. Why? Because he wasn’t suspended for three weeks for spreading anti-Semitism to millions – many of whom still defend him – and repeatedly refusing to apologize for it.

Four spots on the All-Star rosters are guaranteed to the Eastern guards, two of which will be decided when ballots expected Saturday from media and players are averaged and added to the fan vote. Coaches select two more Eastern guards as reserves. They also have a pair of wildcard positions, no easy decision when recent East All-Stars Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo and Julius Randle are among the worthy candidates for six guarantees . front spots.

The All-Star margin for Irving, the player, should be very slim, if not for the fan votes that remind us of his influence. The margin for Irving, the sports ambassador, should be imperceptible. The NBA does not provide any official All-Star criteria, but I will remind members of the media, players and coaches deciding the roster that one of your tiebreakers may be the fact that no one else has made anti-Semitism its platform this season.

Determination: Fiction. Kyrie Irving is not expected to be an NBA All-Star this season.

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Ben Rohrbach is a senior NBA writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have any advice? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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