LaMelo Ball and Dejounte Murray have been chosen as injury replacements for Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in the upcoming All-Star Game, the NBA announced Monday. The starters were announced two weeks ago and the reserves followed a week later (full rosters here), but both conferences were still in need of one player with Durant and Green out with injuries. Under those circumstances, commissioner Adam Silver gets to name replacements himself. He landed on Ball and Murray.
The choices were somewhat surprising from a positional standpoint. Ball and Murray are both guards. Green and Durant are forwards. In that sense, the All-Star rosters will be a tad unbalanced. Fortunately, the All-Star Game tends not to be a particularly competitive affair, at least until the final few minutes. Having more guards will only make the game more entertaining.
On pure merit, Murray was the clear choice in the Western Conference. Green himself advocated for his inclusion, as did Green’s coach, Steve Kerr. The Spurs guard is averaging a career-best 19.6 points and 9.2 assists per game while leading the league with 2.1 steals per game. He is one of the leading candidates for Most Improved Player, and he will be appearing in his first All-Star Game.
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The same is true of Ball. In his case, it will likely be the first of many. Ball won Rookie of the Year last season and is on track for superstardom, but the Eastern Conference had quite a bit of competition for that final spot. Cavaliers big man Jarrett Allen, expected by many to make the team originally, missed the cut yet again.
Durant’s vacated starting spot was also settled Monday as the league announced Celtics forward Jayson Tatum will get the nod in Cleveland. Tatum earned the same honor last season as the highest vote-getter at Durant’s position. Tatum was again fourth in Eastern Conference front-court voting this season, so he was the logical choice to replace Durant.
The All-Star Draft will be held on Thursday ahead of the Feb. 20 contest.