The Houston Rockets‘ Chris Paul has to be the next man up as a Western Conference All-Star should a roster spot open up.
There’s no question. Regardless of conference and position Chris Paul should have All-Star on his résumé at the end of this season. He’s been outstanding, while the Rockets are the second best team in the NBA, and they’ve only lost five games with him in the lineup.
When the book is closed on Paul’s career, it will be a shame if the season preventing him from being a 10-time All-Star was this one.
The Western Conference is yoked with good players. It was an entirely legitimate argument for coaches to knock Paul a few notches because of significant missed time (Ethan superbly detailed this here). However, as time goes on the argument dissipates.
In the Eastern Conference, Chris Paul would be an All-Star. Stephen Curry has played only four more games than he has. Six of the eight best teams in the league have two or more All-Stars, and the Rockets are better than almost all of them.
But we shouldn’t rehash any of these arguments now. The reality is Paul could still be an All-Star.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George was named to Team LeBron as a representative of the Western Conference by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. PG-13 replaces DeMarcus Cousins, who ruptured his Achilles tendon, robbing the NBA of a stellar and potentially historic season.
Absolutely not wishing any misfortune on anyone, but this means Chris Paul is next up. There’s no question about it.
Should another member of the Western Conference miss the All-Star Game, then Paul should be in. Over the last nine years, four players have missed the All-Star game due to injury twice:
2015: Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin, Dwyane Wade and Anthony Davis all missed the game.
2010: Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Brandon Roy all missed the game.
There’s no apparent or stated requirement a replacement with respect to positions. Not even in the starting lineup. In 2013, Chris Bosh was chosen to replace Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup. Before that, Yao Ming was replaced both in the starting lineup and roster by non-centers.
Should there be another opening on the Western Conference, it belongs to Paul.