Is this finally Kemba Walker’s chance to be a 2017-18 All-Star?
Charlotte Hornets point guard Walker said he’d love to be named an All-Star replacement when Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love suffered a broken hand recently. The NBA instead chose Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic. Now, with New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis suffering a season-ending ACL tear, the NBA has another All-Star opening for an Eastern Conference player.
With the All-Star Game Feb. 18 in Los Angeles, NBA commissioner Adam Silver figures to act quickly to name Porzingis’ replacement. Walker told the Observer late last month that he’d change whatever plans he has for All-Star break to join the festivities for a second consecutive season (he was a first-time All-Star last February in New Orleans).
Silver has already gone two deep into Eastern Conference players not initially named to the squad. Silver chose Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond to replace Washington Wizards guard John Wall previously.
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Walker’s statistics this season are All-Star worthy at 22.7 points and 5.9 assists per game. It works against Walker’s candidacy that the Hornets’ record is 23-30, heading into Thursday night’s road game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Walker’s competition for this latest All-Star spot is probably the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons: He averages 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists for a 26-25 team chasing its first playoff spot since the 2011-12 season.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell