November 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts (right) instructs point guard Damian Lillard (0) and shooting guard Wesley Matthews (2) against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. The Trail Blazers defeated the Warriors 113-101. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Teammates nickname Wesley Matthews ‘Ballot’ After All-Star Snub


The Portland Trail Blazers All-Star ballot was released on November 15th, listing LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Nicolas Batum as eligible candidates. These same guys have relinquished the media spotlight to teammate Wesley Matthews, who was not listed among them.

“Ever since that day [November 15th], he’s been on another level. He’s the type of guy where he can take anything and use it for fuel. I thought he took that and he handled it great. He’s showing everybody.”

- LaMarcus Aldridge via USA Today

“He’s played great. He works so hard during the game, chasing guys off screens, guarding in the post, one on one defense. I think it’s just a reward for how hard he works and how hard he plays with how well he’s playing offensively… It didn’t just happen. That shows how hard he works, how much he believes in himself.”

- Damian Lillard via USA Today

This season, Matthews has averaged career highs in points per game (16.7), rebounds per game (4.8), field goal percentage (55.4%), and 3-point percentage (50.5%). With these improvements, he has become the league leader in effective field goal percentage (68.9%) for players who average more than 20 minutes per game [1].

Since the All-star ballot was released on November 15th, Matthews has averaged 18.1 points per game on 56.4 percent shooting (exactly 50 percent from three), but he’s far from a one trick pony. His top-tier perimeter defense makes his game impossible to ignore.

The snub lit a fire under Matthews, who stated that his exclusion was, “ridiculous,” but he is used to being overlooked. After getting no love in high school, no love in college, and no love in the 2009 NBA drafted (going entirely undrafted), he doesn’t play for approval:

“Honestly, if [more respect] comes, that’s great. I know my friends and my family would be excited about it, because they’re the ones that get more upset about it than I do. But if it doesn’t come, then it’s nothing new. Then it’s the same thing that it’s always been since high school.”

Wesley Matthews via USA Today

Realistically, Matthews would be a long shot to make the team anyway, with so many talented guard in the Western Conference, and I understand why he was not included. The ballots were released after just 8 Blazer games, and that’s a pretty small sample, considering Matthews has made drastic improvements this year.

Still, I don’t think anyone is complaining about a little added motivation. The way Wesley Matthews has performed thus far, he will likely be a candidate for Most Improved Player; another prestigious honor in the NBA. The Trail Blazers’ success is directly tied to his, and ‘Ballot’ hasn’t let them down yet.

 

[1] – EFG% adjusts for the value of 3-point field goals relative to 2-point field goals

 

Tags: All Star Featured Popular Portland Trail Blazers Wesley Matthews