Commentary

PER Diem: Jan. 30, 2009

The inclusion of Rashard Lewis and David West in the All-Star game is a "shamockery." John Hollinger breaks down the scenarios that may have brought them to Phoenix.

Updated: January 30, 2009, 4:54 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

Rashard Lewis and David WestGetty Images/AP PhotoRashard Lewis and David West are All-Stars thanks in part to voting scenarios.

ORLANDO -- A day later, and folks are still scratching their heads a bit. Rashard Lewis and David West are fine players and all, but they made the All-Star team? Really?

It was especially big news in O-town, both because the Magic got three players into the game and because the visiting Cavs got only one despite having the league's best record (at the time of the announcement). Cleveland's Ben Wallace called the exclusion of Mo Williams a "shamockery," while LeBron James said it was yet another slap in the face to the city of Cleveland.

Meanwhile, several eyebrows arched at West's inclusion on the Western Conference roster -- over the likes of Al Jefferson, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Steve Nash.

One thing I always like to do after a controversial All-Star selection is reconstruct how the coaches might have voted because it gives us some insight into how the selections may have come about.

In the cases of both Lewis and West, it appears highly likely that they benefited from a fragmented vote for the final roster spot.

I had mentioned in the days leading up to the vote that I thought Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo would split the "third Celtic" vote in the East and that Mo Williams would make the team as a result. Right idea, wrong outcome -- it was Lewis that benefited.

And the reason he benefited was that two coaches had almost no choice but to vote for him. Since coaches can't vote for their own players and only two other Eastern forwards (Paul Pierce and Danny Granger) met the de facto standard of playing well for a team that isn't terrible, those two players' coaches would have put Lewis on their ballots.

To see how this might impact the overall vote, I set up a model vote.

Note: This isn't how they actually voted, it's a model I created for how the coaches might have voted.

In this model, let's say Pierce, Granger, Chris Bosh, Devin Harris and Joe Johnson were unanimous or near-unanimous picks. That would leave two spots on the roster. One was for a "second Orlando" player, which I split between Nelson and Lewis but staggered toward Nelson -- let's say Jameer was named on 10 of the 14 ballots and Lewis on four of them, plus two more votes from the forward situation mentioned above.

That would put six reserves comfortably on the team and give Lewis six votes, with 19 votes still up for grabs.

One of those votes would be by Toronto's coach for another center since he can't vote for Bosh, leaving 18 remaining for Allen, Rondo or Williams.

Let's further say that Andre Iguodala and Vince Carter each siphoned off a vote or two, taking us down to 15.

If Allen, Rondo and Williams were to split those votes evenly, then it's possible that Lewis would have just beaten all three.

And if that happened, the irony would be that Orlando got three players even though only two coaches voted that way -- and those two only did so because they couldn't vote for their own players.

In the Western Conference, it's a similar story. I had suspected that Shaq and Al Jefferson would split the backup center vote and that both would make it as a result; what yesterday's results tell us is that, instead, Shaq was a nearly unanimous choice.

If that's the case, and if shoo-ins Pau Gasol, Chauncey Billups, Brandon Roy, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker were similarly unanimous, then it's possible that West made the team with a very low vote total -- as few as three or four, actually.

That may have happened if players like West, Anthony, Williams, Millsap, Nash, Manu Ginobili and Kevin Durant all split the remaining 20 votes. Chop it up among seven players and it doesn't take a big number to get over the hump.

As far as Lewis and West making the team, I'll live with it -- certainly we've seen worse. I can't say either is having an All-Star-caliber season, but they've performed at a high level for enough seasons that it falls well short of the "shamockery" standard.

Once again the coaches' errors weren't with who they picked so much as who they didn't -- Carter was ignored because of a fear that the Earth might stop spinning on its axis if we were to have two All-Stars from a losing team, while Jefferson was similarly snubbed in the West despite playing just as well as Shaq and twice as much.

One hopes that if injuries arise and a replacement needs to be chosen, those two names will be at the top of Commissioner Stern's list of replacements.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.