New Orleans Pelicans second-year power forward Anthony Davis, the league’s leader in blocked shots, was not one of seven reserve players announced Thursday for the NBA’s Western Conference All-Star team.
However, the door still may be open for Davis to be selected.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was chosen an All-Star starter by the fans, but he is injured and will not play. New NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets to pick the player to replace Bryant, and with the game in New Orleans, it seems possible Davis, the Pelicans’ best player, might be chosen.
Four guards are among the seven reserves picked by the coaches. They join Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who is a starter on the West team. So Bryant’s replacement likely will be at another position.
All-Star starters were selected by the fans on Jan. 23.
“It won’t be an end-of-the world situation, if I’m not picked,” Davis, 20, had said before the reserves were chosen. “I’ll just keep working hard. I’ll have other opportunities.”
Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, is averaging 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.27 blocked shots per game this season, playing in 36 of a possible 44 games.
However, along with individual achievement, team success often plays a large part in All-Star selections. The Pelicans (19-26) have struggled through injuries to three key players.
The Western Conference reserves chosen were power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, center Dwight Howard and guard James Harden of the Houston Rockets, point guards Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and power forward Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.
Aldridge is fifth in scoring and rebounding, and he and Lillard, last season’s rookie of the year, are big reasons the Trail Blazers have the conference’s third-best record.
The Spurs have the conference’s second-best record and lead the Southwest Division. The Rockets are second in the Southwest and fifth in the conference. Dallas is third in the division and eighth in the conference.
Davis has played consistently well, but his play has improved as the season has moved on. In his past five games, he has averaged 23.3 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.67 blocked shots.
In Sunday’s home victory against the Orlando Magic, Davis had 22 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocked shots, combined totals that had not been reached this season. He also had eight or more blocks in three games this season. There have only been three other such games in the NBA this season among all players.
In his last game, on Tuesday at Cleveland, Davis had 30 points, seven rebounds and eight blocked shots in a game in which his left index finger was dislocated. He had it popped back in place and finished the game. He is expected to play Saturday.
It was clear the fans and media in Cleveland see Davis as a potential All-Star.
“This was just another game, but it’s cool that people are talking about the All-Star Game,” Davis said.
“I’m just trying to get better every single day and make the right decisions when the pressure comes.”
The Eastern Conference reserves are power forward Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, point guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards, guard DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, guard Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets, center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and power forward Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks.
Davis was one of 18 first- and second-year players selected for the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge on Fri., Feb. 14 during All-Star Weekend. Davis participated last year as a rookie. His Team Chuck beat Team Shaq 163-135 in Houston. … Comedian Kevin Hart will return for the NBA Celebrity Game. ESPN SportCenter host Stan Verrett, a New Orleans native, also is among the celebrities participating, which also includes Nick Cannon, model Erin Heatherton, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and WNBA players Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne, among others.