After All-Star Game starters were announced, TNT analysts debated who should be reserves. The Thunder’s Kevin Durant received one endorsement. Chris Webber said a team’s win-loss record should not be a key factor. Webber is in the minority. Durant said as much when asked earlier this month if he expected to be chosen for the Feb. 15 game in Phoenix. "No, I don’t think so, because one of the requirements is the team has got to win,” Durant said. "That’s a big part of being an All-Star, leading your team to victories.” When Durant made that statement the Thunder was 4-30. But Oklahoma City is 5-5 since those remarks. The reigning Rookie of the Year has worthy credentials. Durant made a strong closing argument with a career-high 46 points and 15 rebounds Friday night in a loss to the Clippers. Durant is sixth in the league in scoring (24.7). The only Western Conference players ahead of Duarnt on the scoring list are Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. But Durant also plays for the team with the league’s worst record. So who is Durant’s competition? Nowitzki, Brandon Roy and Carmelo Anthony probably are locks when reserves are announced Thursday night on TNT. Deron Williams, second in the league in assists, was on the Olympic team which makes him a slam dunk. Shaquille O’Neal and Al Jefferson are backup center candidates. Both could make it but one might be left off. Sidelined most of January by a hand injury, Anthony is expected to return the next 10 days but could skip the All-Star Game to help his hand fully heal. Even if all of them make it that’s only six reserves. That leaves one roster spot. Two if both centers don’t make it. Three if Anthony isn’t on the team. Chauncey Billups and Tony Parker probably will be selected. If another spot opens up Pau Gasol’s stats (17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) are solid but it wouldn’t be an injustice if he’s left off. Same goes for David West (20.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg). Two-time MVP Steve Nash (14.2 ppg, 9.3 apg) will get some support but probably won’t make it. Tracy McGrady has missed too many games. Other candidates like Ron Artest, Kevin Martin, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge can’t match Durant’s qualifications. Ultimately, Durant’s fate rests in the hands of Western Conference coaches like Gregg Popovich, Byron Scott, Jerry Sloan, George Karl, Don Nelson, Rick Adelman, Kevin McHale and their peers. Since Durant is being mentioned as a future member of Team USA in international competition, Durant will be an All-Star. It’s just a question of whether he makes it this season.
On Page 9BFind out how Kevin Durant finished in this year’s NBA All-Star fan voting.