LEBRON James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry lead the starting lineups for the NBA 2017 All-Star Game on February 19 in New Orleans but it’s Russell Westbrook being left out that has become the biggest story after the announcement.
Starting for the Western Conference are two-time NBA MVP and Golden State Warriors guard Curry and James Harden of the Houston Rockets in the backcourt while Durant, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis comprise the frontcourt.
The Eastern Conference starters are composed of James and Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving. Completing the cast are Milwaukee Bucks phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Toronto Raptors swingman DeMar Derozan.
The biggest snub is Oklahoma City Thunder guard Westbrook who has been leading the NBA in triple doubles and is leading the NBA in points per game and is second in assists. Westbrook is currently averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.
Westbrook, Curry, and Harden all had the same weighted score after the votes from fans, players and media were tallied. But the OKC star had the least fan votes among the three, which was why he was left out.
Also absent is Warriors center Zaza Pachulia who was part of the West frontcourt in the first two returns of the ballots. With the change in the voting system for All-Star starters this year, which included player and media votes, Pachulia would have made it as a West starter.
Filipino fans also attempted to vote in Los Angeles Lakers Fil-American guard Jordan Clarkson but the late push fell short.
Joel Embiid could have also made his first All-Star Game as a starter if it was just fan votes involved, but the player and media votes got him out of the East frontcourt, replaced by Butler. Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics also ended up tied with DeRozan for the second guard spot but the Raptors star got more fan votes and took the slot.
Fan voting comprised 50 percent of the ballots while NBA players and basketball media each added 25 percent of the total. The starters were announced on NBA on TNT on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
The seven reserves of the East and West swuads will be chosen by both team’s coaches and will be announced next week.