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February 22, 2012
Best Active Players

by Kevin Pelton


Two seasons ago, I looked at the best players never to make an All-Star Game. With this year's midseason classic rolling around, I wanted to focus on a slightly different group--the best active players who have never been honored as All-Stars. To compare players with different levels of NBA experience, instead of using total WARP, I'm going to use WARP per year. The list:

1. Josh Smith, Atlanta (8.2 WARP/year)
Naturally, the player who's become a cause celebre as the biggest All-Star snub comes out as our best player never picked for the game. The odd thing is this is the first time in the last couple of years I didn't pick Smith for my team; his advanced numbers are down slightly, but Smith would certainly be a deserving choice as an injury replacement if teammate Joe Johnson is unable to play this weekend.

2. Jason Terry, Dallas (7.8)
I don't know if I can recall Terry ever really being part of the All-Star discussion, but he's been the second- or third-best player on an elite team for years now. The former Sixth Man Award winner also earns high marks for consistency. He's in the All-Star equivalent of the Hall of Very Good.

3. Andre Miller, Denver (7.4)
I touched on Miller extensively the last time I looked at this list. Suffice it to say that his omission from the 2002 All-Star Game was a major gaffe. Miller continues to add to his career value as a productive reserve for the Nuggets and is closing in on the 100-WARP mark for his career.

4. Lamar Odom, Dallas (7.0)
Typically, 10 WARP is about the threshold for an All-Star contributor. Odom has topped the mark four times, including last season, but never has gotten the call. He probably would have been picked as an All-Star in 2004, his lone season in Miami, had the Heat played as well in the first half as after the break. Odom also had a good case last year, but was done in by the depth at power forward in the Western Conference. At this point, his chances of making an All-Star Game are probably in the rear-view mirror.

5. Marcus Camby, Portland (6.8)
As you'll see shortly, Camby has racked up more total WARP without an All-Star appearance than any active player. He's got a chance of passing Rod Strickland as the all-time non-All-Star leader. Camby did it primarily with consistent success. He posted at least 7.5 WARP in eight consecutive seasons from 2003-04 through 2009-10, the last of those at age 36.

6. Mike Bibby, Sacramento (6.2)
Younger readers may find it difficult to believe, but there was once a time when Bibby wasn't considered one of the league's most unpopular players and difficult to watch play. In fact, Bibby once appeared likely to lead this list if not escape it entirely by making an All-Star appearance. Neither happened, as Bibby slowed down quickly once he reached 30 and now appears entirely washed up at just 33.

7. Greg Monroe, Detroit (5.9)
The only player under 25 on this list, Monroe might have deserved to place higher on my ranking of players most likely to make All-Star appearances in the future. No matter my qualms about Monroe's interior defense, production like he's putting up can't be ignored for very long.

8. Al Jefferson, Utah (5.8)
Jefferson is the quintessential player who comes out better by the (individual) numbers than via plus-minus analysis or scouting. Jefferson continues to score efficiently and tally up rebounds and blocked shots, but the Jazz is no better with him on the court. It's difficult to build a strong defense around Jefferson at center, but he's too immobile and not enough of a floor spacer to use him at center, meaning Jefferson's team must always sacrifice for his production.

9. Jose Calderon, Toronto (5.8)
Calderon is the quintessential player who comes out better by the (individual) numbers than via plus-minus analysis or scouting. Calderon is enjoying another terrific season as a playmaker and scoring efficiently, but that good work is largely undone by his terrible defense at the point. The Raptors are allowing 10.4 more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor, per BasketballValue.com. So it's hard to consider Calderon much of a snub.

10. Jason Richardson, Orlando (5.8)
Though he twice topped 10 WARP, Richardson's consideration for All-Star Weekend has been limited to the Slam Dunk Contest. Had Richardson played for a good team during his prime, he might have had a chance to reach an All-Star Game, but 20 points a night on a lottery club isn't likely to impress coaches. Richardson is just 31, but his career is already on the decline and he has no real chance of playing his way into future All-Star discussions.


1. Camby (109.0)
2. Terry (101.9)
3. Miller (96.4)
4. Odom (91.3)
5. Bibby (86.2)
6. Smith (65.6)
7. Richardson (63.9)
8. Shane Battier, Miami (56.4)
9. Mike Miller, Miami (51.5)
10. Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando (48.4)

The first seven spots belong to the same players. That leaves three wings from the state of Florida. Battier and Miller both got on this list by being solid contributors for a full decade. The Heat teammates topped out at 7.6 (Battier) and 8.2 (Miller) WARP, respectively, and have never seriously been mentioned as All-Star candidates. Had voting been done after the 2009 NBA Finals, Turkoglu would have been a shoo-in, but he failed to merit much consideration for his best season, 10.6 WARP in 2007-08.

Kevin Pelton is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Kevin by clicking here or click here to see Kevin's other articles.

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