De'Aaron Fox headlines potential Steph Curry replacements in NBA All-Star Game
Fox headlines potential All-Star Game replacements for Steph originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Warriors' worst fear -- a season ending leg injury to guard Steph Curry -- was put to rest with an MRI on Sunday, but the point guard still remains sidelined and likely will be out through the All-Star break.
While Golden State turns to their bench to try to make up for Curry's production, the NBA now is tasked with selecting Curry's replacement for the All-Star Game on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City.
Another layer to the juggling act that is the NBA All-Star selection is the blockbuster trade on Sunday that sent Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference. Irving was voted as a starter with the Nets, but the NBA has yet to comment on his All-Star standing. Could Irving suit up in Curry's place, leaving Silver to fill a vacancy in the East?
Here's a look at Silver's options in light of Curry's injury.
In the original round of votes -- from players, fans and the media -- Curry and Luka Dončić tied with a weighted score of 1.5 and were named starting backcourt players. Their next closest competition -- Memphis' Ja Morant (3), Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (4) and Portland's Damian Lillard (6) -- all three eventually got the All-Star nod courtesy of the NBA coaches.
Ultimately the decision is at Silver's discretion, but you would think Morant beating out Gilgeous-Alexander and Lillard in all three categories would give him a leg up against the field to inherit Curry's starting spot.
On the other hand, Irving's 1.75 weighted score was good enough to land him a spot among the starters' circle in the Eastern Conference. There's a case to be made for Silver to keep him in the starting lineup across conferences. Jaylen Brown, Tyrese Haliburton and DeMar DeRozan currently are all on the bench for the East and could emerge as potential replacements for Irving in the starting lineup if Silver made the call.
Western Conference call-ups
Silver wouldn't have to venture outside of California to find a treasure trove of potential replacements. Chief among them? De'Aaron Fox.
The 25-year-old guard has enjoyed a breakout season just an hour-and-a-half north with the Sacramento Kings, averaging 24.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. He looked put up a solid All-Star campaign, but unfortunately found himself on the outside looking in as one of the biggest snubs of the annual event. With Curry's injury, one would imagine Fox is back in the mix.
Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Minnesota's Anthony Edwards also had impressive returns on the initial votes and have a case to be included in place of Curry.
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Finally, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and Curry's teammate Klay Thompson both finished among the top-10 vote recipient during the starters' tallies and certainly are no strangers to the weekend's festivities. It's hard to imagine them jumping players like Fox, Edwards and Booker, but certainly can't rule them out.
Eastern Conference call-ups
Let's play commissioner and hypothetically name Irving as a Western Conference starter in place of Curry. Now time to fill up the Eastern Conference roster.
Unfortunately for Toronto's Paschal Siakam, considered by some to be the biggest snub of the entire weekend, he's classified as a frontcourt player and probably doesn't have a path to Salt Lake City. That leaves a star-studded list of James Harden, Trae Young, LaMelo Ball, Darius Garland and Jalen Brunson as potential picks for Silver.
Choosing Harden would be a nod to tradition and keep the 76ers guard's streak alive with 11 consecutive All-Star appearances. Young and Ball would indicated Silver prioritizing the big names of the next generation. Lastly, Garland and Brunson don't have nearly the same star power around the league but are quietly building All-Star campaigns and definitely worthy of consideration.