The polls have closed on fan voting and the controversy that lingers in the NBA atmosphere over the likely victories of Kyrie Irving, who has played in only 14 games this season, and a struggling Kobe Bryant will quickly subside into arguments over who the reserves should be.
Now, the fans have no bearing on the races, no matter how many hot takes they give online the final seven spots on each roster will fall into the hands of the NBA coaches. That means Brad Stevens and 29 other coaches, or the assistants/scouts they toss the duty down to; will have to pencil in two backcourt, three front court, and two wild-card selections.
From hearing how he discussed the process in Toronto before the team's 115-109 loss to the Raptors, Stevens has given some indication of thought towards the process and he may actually break the mold and fill out a ballot himself.
Speaking on how he'll go about voting, he highlighted the fear factor that he faces as a coach from time to time:
Ill go through the stats ill go through how the team is doing then probably the differentiating factor will be who scares me the most, thats the way I look at it. Who do you have to prepare for differently, who makes you tweak what you normally do, those types of things.
Whether or not Stevens pays attention to the media, he certainly must know Isaiah Thomas' name will feature prominently in the mix for one of the final spots. He made it clear how difficult the voting process can be on borderline players like I.T.:
I think its probably the same every year where you can look at 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th spots I mean theres so many people that could be in those spots…there’s probably going to be multiple guys that are left off that are really good players and are having really good years.
Then when the topic came up of his personal preference in how players are selected, Stevens took the analytical road, which would bode well for Thomas. At the moment the Celtics' guard is 8th in the east in terms of player efficiency rating, with only Kyle Lowry ahead of him among conference guards:
I look at efficiency more than anything else I don't get too caught up in points per game and rebounds per game and those types of things you get caught up in efficiency from a points standpoint you get into rebound percentages. I think, again, you also have to factor in 4th quarter and crunch time performance, those types of things, but at the end of the day…you're going to have a few guys that are on everybody ballot and then who you're most scared of when you're preparing a game plan.
Preparing to go up against Lowry and Demar DeRozan, two guards who will surely be penciled in on many reserve ballots, Stevens gave them his seal of approval:
They're going to be all-stars, I have no doubt about that.