NEW ORLEANS – (Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – The big story out of the All-Star Game starters’ announcement is this: Russell Westbrook isn’t one of the five starters on the Western Conference team. The Oklahoma City point guard is having a season for the ages, but was passed over in the balloting conducted by fans, current players and media. Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Houston’s James Harden were voted in as the starting guards in Thursday’s announcements on TNT.
The three players tied for the two guard spots on the West, but Westbrook lost on the fan vote tiebreaker. Fan voting counts for 50 percent of the total vote and Curry and Harden each received more fan votes than Westbrook.
Westbrook has recorded 21 triple-doubles while enjoying one of the best overall seasons by a guard. He is averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 10.4 assists and is vying to become the first player to average a triple-double since Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists during the 1961-62 season.
Harden is making his fifth All-Star appearance and is averaging 28.9 points, 11.6 assists and 8.3 rebounds. Curry, making his fourth consecutive appearance, is averaging 24.6 points and 6.1 assists.
The Western Conference frontcourt consists of Golden State’s Kevin Durant (eighth All-Star selection), San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (second) and New Orleans standout Anthony Davis (fourth). Durant is averaging 26.2 points, Leonard is scoring 24.8 and Davis is averaging 28.8 points and 12.1 rebounds.
Davis will be playing in front of the home fans with the Feb. 19 contest being held in New Orleans.
“It’s amazing,” Davis said during a TNT interview. “Hopefully I won’t get hurt before the All-Star Game and I go out there and put on a show for the city of New Orleans.”
Cleveland forward LeBron James leads the Eastern Conference All-Stars and is making his 13th consecutive appearance. James is averaging 25.6 points, 8.1 assists and 7.8 rebounds.
James was joined by teammate Kyrie Irving, the point guard averaging 23.6 points and 5.6 assists. Irving is making his fourth All-Star appearance. The other guard is Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, the three-time All-Star scoring 28.2 points per game.
Joining James in the frontcourt is Chicago swingman Jimmy Butler (third selection, 24.8 average) and Milwaukee standout Giannis Antetokounmpo (23.6 points, 8.7 rebounds).
Antetokounmpo is the first Milwaukee player to start in the All-Star Game since Sidney Moncrief in 1986. He is also the first Bucks’ player selected since Michael Redd in 2004.
In addition to the fan vote counting 50 percent, votes from current players and media accounted for 25 percent each. The reserves for both teams will be announced next Thursday.