For the second straight year, Kevin Durant has been named one of the captains of the NBA All-Star game. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Nets superstar will enjoy the festivities on the sidelines as he is currently out with a sprained MCL.
With Durant unable to go, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select a replacement. There are a ton of Eastern Conference players who deserve the honor of becoming an All-Star this season. Here are the top three replacements for Kevin Durant in the East All-Star pool.
Kevin Durant NBA All-Star Replacements
If Adam Silver wants the hometown crowd to be happy, he should select Jarrett Allen to replace Kevin Durant and make his NBA All-Star debut in front of the Cleveland faithful. Allen is having a magnificent campaign in his first full season with the Cavaliers. The 6-foot-11 big man had a monster 29-point, 22-rebound double-double in their 102-101 road win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
Former All-Star and Cavaliers veteran Kevin Love made sure to let the 23-year old know (via Tas Melas of The Athletic):
"Hey! You're a f****** All-Star. You're a f****** All-Star."
—Kevin Love lets Jarrett Allen know. pic.twitter.com/Crcb3CLscK
— Tas Melas (@TasMelas) February 5, 2022
On the season, Allen is averaging 16.2 points, 11.0 rebounds (7th in the NBA), and 1.4 blocks. His presence inside the paint has made Cleveland one of the most imposing frontcourts in the NBA.
Likewise, he has helped anchor the Cavs into becoming on of the top defensive teams in the NBA. They are 3rd in defensive rating and are the no. 1 team in opposing field goal percentage on shots within five feet of the basket. This is in large part due to Allen's presence in the middle.
The Toronto Raptors are surging with five straight wins, two of which came against the top two teams in the East. A lot of Toronto's recent success is due to Pascal Siakam's elite play over these last five games.
The Cameroonian is certainly looking like the 2019-20 version of himself that became a starter in the 2020 All-Star game. Through this stretch, Siakam is averaging 24.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks.
But the 27-year old hasn't been in All-Star form just through this stretch. He has been playing like one since the flip of the calendar year. Since January 1, Siakam is averaging 22.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 1.9 steals, while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from the 3-point line. Those numbers are on par, if not, better than his lone All-Star campaign. Toronto has gone 13-6 in 2022.
With the way Siakam is playing, he is definitely deserving of joining “Mr. Bet on Yourself” Fred VanVleet in Cleveland.
3. LaMelo Ball
If there's anyone in the NBA who was made to play in an All-Star game, it must be LaMelo Ball. The Charlotte Hornets star is one of the most flamboyant players in the NBA with his flashy style of play that often sends Buzz City into a frenzy.
But aside from his fancy passes and nifty finishes around the basket, Ball is the main reason for the turnaround of the Hornets franchise. The sophomore is averaging 19.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.6 assists this season. For the second straight year, they are in the mix for a play-in tournament spot, currently at 9th in the East standings.
If Adam Silver wants the fans to enjoy the main event of All-Star Weekend, he should go with LaMelo Ball as Durant's replacement. Otherwise, Ball will just have to showcase his flare in the revamped Rising Stars tournament.