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James Harden named All-Star Starter

The question of who would replace Kobe Bryant has been answered without incident. With the injury to Blake Griffin and Bryant, both James Harden and Klay Thompson were named starters.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The transgression made by fan voting has been corrected. Western Conference All-Star head coach Steve Kerr has named Rockets guard James Harden a starter in the All-Star game.

Harden finished third amoung guards in the Western Conference with 1,069,368 All-Star votes, finishing behind Stephen Curry (1,513,324) and Kobe Bryant (1,152,402). The Rockets guard finished fifth-overall in total All-Star votes with Anthony Davis (1,369,911) and LeBron James (1,470,483) rounding out the top-five. Even with that fact, Harden would have been coming off the bench if everyone was healthy going into the All-Star game.

Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant will not be able to play with a rotator cuff injury. The question then became who would replace him, James Harden or Klay Thompson. Both players are having career years. The person making this decision, as previously mentioned, is Golden State coach Steve Kerr, putting Kerr and Thompson in a tough spot.

In the end, the decision wasn't required. Both Harden and Thompson were added to the starting lineup with Blake Griffin's surgery Monday to remove a staph infection. The starting lineup is in further flux with the announcement that Anthony Davis won't participate in the All-Star game due to injury.

The starter selection is another feather in the cap for Harden's MVP-caliber season. Harden is averaging 27.7 points (league-best), 5.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists (12th-best), and 1.98 steals (Tied-3rd-best) per game. He leads the league with six 40-point games this season. Harden was named back-to-back player of the month in December and January this year.

Harden will participate in the 3-Point contest this Saturday before starting in the All-Star game Sunday.