Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are teammates again. Gordon Hayward, DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker are about to get their first opportunities on the All-Star stage.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade’s run of 12 straight selections in the NBA’s midseason showcase is on the cusp of ending.
Westbrook — the NBA’s scoring leader and triple-double machine — was among 14 reserves selected by the league’s coaches for the All-Star Game that will be played in New Orleans on Feb. 19.
PLAYER POS. TEAM APP.
Russell Westbrook G Thunder 6th
Klay Thompson G Warriors 3rd
Draymond Green F Warriors 2nd
DeMarcus Cousins C Kings 3rd
Marc Gasol C Grizzlies 3rd
DeAndre Jordan C Clippers 1st
Gordon Hayward G Jazz 1st
PLAYER POS. TEAM APP.
Isaiah Thomas G Celtics 2nd
John Wall G Wizards 4th
Kevin Love F Cavaliers 4th
Kyle Lowry G Raptors 3rd
Paul George F Pacers 4th
Kemba Walker G Hornets 1st
Paul Millsap F Hawks 4th
“There’s no question in my mind that he should be starting,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said Thursday night. “However, I understand that there’s certain things that have to do with who does start. I’m not taking anything away from anybody who is starting, but … Russell, in my opinion, should be starting.”
Being picked reunites Westbrook in the Western Conference locker room with Durant, his former Thunder teammate who is now part of a record-tying feat for Golden State. The Warriors tied the league mark with four selections, with reserves Draymond Green and Klay Thompson joining two teammates announced as starters last week — Durant and Stephen Curry.
“It’s a blessing,” a thankful Westbrook said in a televised interview after scoring 45 points in Oklahoma City’s 109-98 win over Dallas. “I never take it for granted. I’m honored, obviously, to play in the All-Star Game.”
Other West reserves include Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, Memphis’ Marc Gasol and first-time selections Hayward of Utah and Jordan of the LA Clippers.
The Eastern Conference reserves are Indiana’s Paul George, Cleveland’s Kevin Love, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Washington’s John Wall and Charlotte’s Walker, who is going for the first time.
Walker watched the selection show from his hotel room in New York, telling teammates to not spoil the surprise if they learned his fate ahead of time. When his name was revealed, they came storming into his room in what Walker called “a pretty special moment.”
He’s one of five point guards on the East roster.
“I thought that would be an issue,” Walker said. “But we are all just playing great basketball right now, and the coaches, they have seen that.”
He’s a feature in trade rumors, his team is slumping, and now the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony has been snubbed by coaches for the All-Star Game.
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George said the selection “means everything” to him.
“Hopefully, I’m doing things the right way,” George said. “Hopefully I’m playing this game the right way.”
Wade would have been a starter under the old formula that takes only fan voting into account when choosing the opening five for each roster, but the Chicago guard did not qualify in the revised system employed by the NBA now that also takes into account votes from players and a panel of basketball media.
Some, including West All-Star coach Steve Kerr of Golden State, said players made a “mockery” of the process by wasting votes.
“I feel like guys who should be in the starting spot should get that pick,” Wall said on TNT, which released the selections. “But I think it didn’t go the way everybody thought it would. Some players didn’t pick for the right people.”
Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid also would have started in the former system, yet like Wade were shut out of the selections.
The East starters announced last week are Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Cleveland’s LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. West starters are Curry, Durant, Houston’s James Harden, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis of host New Orleans.
The Warriors are the eighth team with four All-Star selections. Atlanta (2015) was the most recent. … Hayward is Utah’s first All-Star selection since Deron Williams in 2011. Walker is Charlotte’s first All-Star since Gerald Wallace in 2010. … Cleveland has three All-Stars for the first time since 1993. … Thomas, listed at 5-foot-9, is the fourth player under 6-feet with multiple All-Star selections in his career. … All-Stars who played in last year’s game and were not selected this year are Kobe Bryant (retired), Chris Paul (injured), LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Andre Drummond and Wade. Anthony’s absence snaps a streak of seven straight appearances.