The NBA announced its starters for the 2013 All-Star game. The starters receive their spots by fan voting, and for the third consecutive year Kevin Durant was named as a starter. Durant received 1,504,047 votes for his inclusion, trailing only Kobe Bryant (1,591,437 votes) and LeBron James (1,583,646). The game will be played in Houston this year on February 17th.
The starting players are as follows:
Ben Golliver at Sports Illustrated has this to say about Durant, under the sub-header, "Category No. 1: Offensive To Even Suggest A Discussion:"
"Even with an extremely deep West frontcourt pool to contend with, Durant's ticket to Houston is just as inarguable as James'. The Point Forward's first-quarter MVP selection has been mind-blowing. Durant trails James in PER by a fraction of a point and is averaging 28.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks. Durant is challenging for his fourth scoring title in a row, he is on pace to join the ultra-elite 50/40/90 shooting club and he has the Thunder tracking toward one of the most dominant regular seasons of the past decade.
While there are plenty of worthy All-Star candidates among the West's power forwards and centers, Durant is well above the rest of the small forwards in his conference. Rudy Gay? Nicolas Batum? Andrei Kirilenko? Danilo Gallinari? The best West front line without him would include some combination of Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee and Zach Randolph. Durant has been head and shoulders above all of them this season."
According to the NBA press release, for the remaining players and the squads' respective head coaches:
In selecting the reserves, the 30 NBA head coaches must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. After the coaches select the reserves, if a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select a replacement. Reserves will be announced Jan. 24, on TNT.
The East and West All-Star coaches and coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in the conference through games played Feb. 3. Thunder coach Scott Brooks and the Chicago Bulls' Tom Thibodeau, by virtue of having served as head coaches in the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando, are not eligible to coach in this year's game.
Durant's teammate Russell Westbrook has played as a reserve in the last two All-Star games and looks to be in the running for another spot this year. However, this year he has to contend with his former teammate James Harden, who as a member of the hometown Rockets, and not to mention is arguably the best 2-guard in the West right now, will be a clear choice to be named to his first ever All-Star game. Also, Serge Ibaka, who has made leaps and bounds both offensively and defensively this season, may be in consideration for a front-court spot.