Let’s get this out of the way at the beginning. Russell Westbrook is having an objectively better season than Stephen Curry is. There is a chance in April that Russell Westbrook will be handed an MVP trophy for the great season that he is having, but Steph Curry is going to be starting in the All-Star game, and that’s not necessarily a poor choice.
This year, the NBA changed up the way players are voted on as All-Star starters. The fan vote constituted 50% of the vote, while the media and players vote each made up 25% of the vote. Each player was ranked based on where they finished in each vote. An average was taken of those three total and the two guards and three forwards with the lowest averages were picked as starters, with the fan vote breaking any ties.
In the case of Westbrook and Curry, there was such a tie, and Curry is starting because he received about 250,000 more votes from the fans. The rest of this conversation centers around your philosophy about All-Star games.
Many of the arguments for Westbrook starting is that he has been the better player this year. And as previously noted, this is true. His numbers are better, and he is ahead of Curry in terms PER, value added, and estimated wins added. Objectively, Westbrook is the better player this season, but that isn’t the entire point of the All-Star game.
This game is about the fans. The NBA All-Star game doesn’t mean anything, so it is not imperative to have the best players starting, as neither team gains or loses anything from Curry starting. Furthermore, if this game was not about the fans, then they would not have a role in selecting the starters.
These All-Star games are always about the fans, as in each of the major professional sports, the fans have some role in picking the starters. Finally, in most cases, the players the fans select are still very good players. Curry is still one of the best players in the league.
In the case of the NBA, they let the fans have some say while letting the players and the media vote as well, which helps to avoid situations like Zaza Pachulia starting in the game (no offense Zaza). However, in the event of a tie, the NBA deferred, correctly so, to the fans. More votes were cast for Steph Curry, so he gets to start.
At the end of the day, this doesn’t really have much of an impact on the game. Fans aren’t going to enjoy the game more or less because Curry is starting and Westbrook isn’t. This new system for selecting the All-Stars is a good one from the NBA. The fans have the power, with the media and players vote as a check on that power. While Westbrook may be having the better season, the fans wanted to see Curry, so they get Curry.