Kevin Durant will be making his seventh appearance at the NBA All-Star game tonight. Russell Westbrook will be making his fifth appearance. Even though both are old hands at this whole All-Star thing, it is still the first time that both of them will be in the starting lineup.
Westbrook will have to make a lot of noise if he wants to replicate last year's MVP performance. Back in 2015, Westbrook dropped 41 points on 16 of 28 shooting. There wasn't a whole lot to go along with that (5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals), but no one counts those stats in an All-Star game. Durant's best performance was back in 2012. That year saw Durant put up a similarly point-heavy performance, with 36 points on 14-25 shooting. It's worth noting that Scott Brooks was the coach of the 2012 team, so Durant got as much court time as he wanted.
Regardless, we should expect an excellent performance out of both players tonight. In terms of All-Star game averages, Durant is off the charts. Durant, excluding his injury-shortened 2015 performance, is averaging 30.6 points per all-star game. On 52% shooting from the floor. Westbrook's averages are more modest, as he wasn't elected in as a starter until 2015 and had to compete for playing time. But Westbrook is still ridiculously efficient, averaging 22 points per all-star game on 56% from the floor.
According to Oddsshark.com, there are currently three players ranked above Durant and Westbrook when it comes to betting. Kobe Bryant is the easy favorite, at +135. Stephen Curry sits at second with +500, while LeBron James sits third at +800. Westbrook is in a tie for third with LeBron at +800, while Durant sits alone in fifth at +1000. Former Thunder teammate James Harden sits sixth at +1800.
No matter what the odds say though, Durant and Westbrook have a distinct advantage. With the Thunder teammates in the starting lineup, they're guaranteed to get at least enough time to prove themselves. Also, think of it from this angle. Westbrook averages 3.5 assists to Durant a game. Durant averages 1.5 assists to Westbrook a game. These guys can play off of each other from the get go.
Will that be enough to overcome Kobe's sentimental vote? Curry's showmanship? LeBron's mastery? A huge surge from Al Horford off the bench?
We find out tonight. The All-Star game airs at 7 PM Central on Turner Network Television.
By the way, here's the All-Star MVP highlights of Westbrook and Durant: