|Andrew Bynum could feel the squeeze of the new All-Star Ballot. (Getty Images)|
Update Wednesday 12:43 p.m.: The NBA has released its official statement confirming the change. Guards and forwards from here on out.
For the first time, the NBA All-Star Ballot presented by Sprint will feature two position choices, guards and frontcourt, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations Stu Jackson announced today.
Fans will select two guards and three frontcourt players when choosing the starters for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. Previously, the ballot featured three positions with fans picking two guards, two forwards and a center.
“The NBA's competition committee and the league office agreed that having the center position as the only specific position singled out on the ballot was outdated and not representative of today's game or players,” Jackson said. “Our players have become more versatile each season, and this ballot will more accurately reflect that versatility.”
The 2013 NBA All-Star Ballot presented by Sprint will be unveiled on Tuesday, Nov. 13 during a special event in Houston.
NBA.com reports that the league plans to announce Wendesday a change to the All-Star ballot which will remove the center designation, and replace it with more generic terms. From NBA.com:
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.
The league decided to make the change after the NBA's Competition Committee agreed to the move at its meeting last month, VP of Basketball Operations Stu Jackson said Tuesday evening.
"It makes sense," 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 It just seemed a little outdated and didn't represent the way our game has evolved.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."
It's a remarkably progressive move that paves the way for the most deserving candidates to be selected. Coaches like George Karl have long maintained that the league is primarily made of bigs and smalls, and with the emersion of superior athleticism covering the lack of raw size, more and more teams have gone to smaller lineups.
The two Eastern Conference Finalists, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, both employed power forwards at their fifth position last season, with Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh expected to start at "center" this year as well.
Dwight Howard is still a lock for the Western Conference starter. But it may make it more difficult for Andrew Bynum, who would face both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony suddenly widely expected as starters, and Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh also likely to draw votes. If the dropoff from the Lakers to the Sixers impacts his vote totals enough, it could remove Bynum from starter completely. The abundance of quality wings could further impact the race and you have to wonder if the resulting impact on reserves will put backup centers like Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert in danger as well if the coaches were to opt for selections that were in line with the trend.
But in truth, this is a move towards a ballot more genuinely reflective of the league, and how its evolution has been shaped by the move away from traditional positionality.