The starters for the 2013-2014 NBA All-Star Game were officially announced today at 4:00 p.m. PST on TNT. The starters, which are voted upon by fans, include Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry who comprise the Western Conference backcourt, and Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin in the frontcourt. The Eastern Conference’s starters are composed of Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving (backcourt), and Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George (frontcourt).
There was for the most part little doubt about who the starters would be, except for the third Western Conference frontcourt spot. As of the official third return tally, Love trailed Dwight Howard by a full 26,000 votes, but in the biggest surprise of the night he overtook Howard for the final starting spot. Also as of the that third tally, LaMarcus Aldridge was fourth among Western Conference frontcourt players, but still nearly 100,000 votes short of being in consideration for a starting spot.
However; it is nearly certain that LaMarcus Aldridge will make the team as a reserve. While the reserves are not officially announced until January 30th, Aldridge has been an All-Star in the previous two seasons, and is producing at a far higher level this year. He is also currently third(!) on NBA.com’s MVP ladder, so Blazers fans have nothing to worry about. Damian Lillard, however, will have a tougher path, if he is to make it in.
His chances will depend heavily on the role that injuries play, as this year’s Western Conference roster could become quite interesting due to them. Western Conference guards Kobe Bryant (knee) and Chris Paul (shoulder) have both been dealing with extended injuries. While Kobe has publicly endorsed younger players, Chris Paul has said that if he is healthy, he will play. If either (or both) of them do not play, their replacements will be selected by newly appointed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who will have quite the dilemma on his hands.
Behind the three already mentioned Western Conference guards (Paul, Kobe, and Curry), Jeremy Lin was the next highest vote-getter (likely due to his worldwide appeal). However, his rather pedestrian stat line of 30.7 minutes, 13.5 points, and 4.3 assists per game may not be enough to convince the coaches (who select the All-Star reserves) to give him a spot. If they do not, Silver will have to decide whether to cater to the worldwide fans and award Lin a spot as an injury replacement, or instead, someone who may be more deserving from a talent standpoint.
This is particularly relevant for Blazers fans and Lillard, who is right on the edge of making the roster. If the coaches do not select him for one of the reserve spots (which is a reasonable possiblity), his fate may be in the hands of Mr. Silver himself. As of the third return tally, Lillard was only eighth in terms of votes, but with three guards ahead of him potentially injured (including Russell Westbrook), his odds are looking better.