Exciting news from the NBA last night, as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both earned enough fan votes to be named All-Star starters! This marks the first time in Thunder history that two players will be represented as starters in the All-Star game.
This will be the fifth All-Star selection of Russell Westbrook's career, and the first time he is named to the starting lineup. Previously, Westbrook had been named as a reserve in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. Westbrook missed the 2014 All-Star game due to injury. Last year, Westbrook was the MVP of the All-Star game, so he certainly has a reputation to uphold.
It's the seventh straight All-Star selection for Kevin Durant. Durant hasn't missed an All-Star game since 2010, staying just healthy enough to participate last season. Durant has been elected as a starter by the fans in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. The coaches selected Durant as an All-Star reserve in 2010 and 2015. Additionally, Durant was MVP of the All-Star game in 2012.
Here are the voting results from the West's front court, via NBA.com:
1 Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,891,614
2 Kevin Durant (OKC) 980,787
3 Kawhi Leonard (SA) 782,339
4 Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 768,112
5 Draymond Green (GS) 726,616
6 Blake Griffin (LAC) 651,860
7 Enes Kanter (OKC) 534,499
8 Tim Duncan (SA) 431,087
9 Anthony Davis (NO) 400,688
10 DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 364,270
11 DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 269,427
12 LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 268,003
13 Dwight Howard (Hou) 219,761
14 Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 173,317
15 Harrison Barnes (GS) 155,289
Durant nestled himself in a comfortable second place between Kobe Bryant and Kawhi Leonard. Obviously Durant couldn't hold up to Kobe's legendary voting power, but he's still head and shoulders more popular than all of the other West's forwards.
Encouragingly, Thunder reserve Enes Kanter received the seventh most votes. Kanter doesn't have nearly the media presence that any of the other players on this list have, so his presence so high on the list is confusing. Turkey's fans may have played a role in the vote, though it's impossible to say for sure. Georgia's fans certainly played a part in Pachulia's vote total though, as did some pop culture icons.
Here's the back court results:
1 Stephen Curry (GS) 1,604,325
2 Russell Westbrook (OKC) 772,009
3 Chris Paul (LAC) 624,334
4 Klay Thompson (GS) 555,513
5 James Harden (Hou) 430,777
6 Manu Ginobili (SA) 226,289
7 Rajon Rondo (Sac) 200,518
8 Tony Parker (SA) 195,472
9 Andre Iguodala (GS) 181,142
10 Damian Lillard (Por) 158,360
Again, we see the Thunder player firmly in second place. Obviously Steph Curry is looking immaculate right now, and the Warriors are coming off of a championship. So there's no way Westbrook could challenge that, especially with him becoming a bit more of an assist man in recent games. Nonetheless, Chris Paul is a solid 150,000 votes behind Russ. No other Thunder player was listed. The Thunder have never had an All-Star not named Durant or Westbrook.
All-Star reserves, Rookie-Sophomore game players, and All-Star Saturday Night participants are all still to be named. The NBA All-Star game will take place on February 14th, at 7:30 PM Central Standard Time.
Here's how Westbrook and Durant reacted on Twitter:
THANKS TO ALL THE FANS ITS A TRUE BLESSING & HONOR TO BE VOTED IN THE ALLSTAR GAME CANT SAY THANK YOU ENOUGH #whynot pic.twitter.com/4Cty8fhGPY— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) January 22, 2016
Thanks to all the fans for help making a dream come true. It never gets old, I really appreciate it!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) January 22, 2016
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) January 22, 2016