Although Los Angeles Lakers' superstar Kobe Bryant has only played six games through the first half of the regular season due to various injuries, the future Hall of Famer was voted in by the fans to his 16th All-Star game.
However, Bryant is reportedly returning after the All-Star game, so he will most likely not participate in the traditional event. As a result, the NBA's new commissioner, Adam Silver, will determine Bryant's replacement.
Because of a very talented Western Conference, there are many deserving players who can effectively replace Bryant. Unlike the Eastern Conference where the Indiana Pacers' up-and-coming shooting guard, Lance Stepehnson, is arguably the only snub, the NBA's more competitive conference have numerous worthy players who deserve to play in New Orleans on February 16.
Before discussing some potential players that can replace Bryant, here are the Western and Eastern Conference players that have been selected to the All-Star game.
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
|G: Stephen Curry||G: Kyrie Irving|
|G: Kobe Bryant||G: Dwayne Wade|
|F: Kevin Durant||F: Paul George|
|F: Blake Griffin||F: Carmelo Anthony|
|F: Kevin Love||F: Lebron James|
|G: Chris Paul||G: John Wall|
|G: Tony Parker||G: Demar Derozan|
|G: Damian Lillard||G: Joe Johnson|
|G: James Harden||F: Paul Millsap|
|F: Lamarcus Aldridge||F: Chris Bosh|
|F: Dirk Nowitzki||C: Roy Hibbert|
|C: Dwight Howard||C: Joakim Noah|
By taking a look at both rosters, it is evident which squad is the better one— the Western Conference.
Now, who should replace the injured Bryant?
Only a year ago, it would have been difficult to believe that Phoenix Suns' point guard, Goran Dragic, is an All-Star caliber player. But this year, the Suns are arguably the NBA's most surprising team with a terrific record of 28-18, which puts them at 6th place in the extremely competitive Western Conference.
The Slovenian guard is having a career-best year with averaging 19.7 points while shooting an efficient 49.9 percent from the floor, and dishing out 6.1 assists. To put that into perspective, both Dragic and four-time MVP Lebron James are the only players in the league to average at least 19 points and 6 assists while shooting 49 percent.
What's even more impressive is that fellow guard Eric Bledsoe — who along with Dragic is the best player on the Suns— went down with an injury in late December, and the Suns have still managed to remain in the playoff race in the tough Western Conference. And Dragic has certainly been an integral reason why Phoenix has managed to continue their phenomenal success.
Although players such as DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan and Mike Conley would all be excellent choices to replace Bryant in the All-Star game, Dragic is the smarter choice.
First, both Davis and Cousins' teams are out of playoff contention and well below .500. While both big men are posting very impressive numbers, they are not winning games.
Furthermore, Dragic arguably does not have a very talented squad — minus the injured Bledsoe— but the Suns are playing excellent basketball because of hard work, terrific coaching and smart play. After all, guys like Gerald Green, the Morris twins and Miles Plumlee are the Suns' supporting cast.
So, while Cousins and Davis are quickly becoming very elite big men, they are not carrying their teams to playoff contention, whereas Dragic is.
Moreover, Duncan —who is debatably the second greatest player of his generation after the Black Mamba — has the San Antonio Spurs tied with second in the Western Conference, but the Hall of Fame big man does not have the numbers that Dragic possess.
Lastly, though Conley has carried the Memphis Grizzlies back into the playoff hunt with a 26-20 record, Dragic's team still has a better record, and the Suns' point guard is having a more impressive season.
- Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Voted to NBA All-Star Team
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- Kobe Bryant Returns to Practice with Los Angeles Lakers
- When Will Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant Return?
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