It's now official: the Los Angeles Clippers will have two Western Conference starters in the 2012 All Star Game in Orlando. We've known this was coming for some time now. In Griffin's case, since Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York, it has been fairly obvious that he would be an All Star starter, based on sheer popularity not to mention productivity. As for Paul, well he's a perennial All Star, and barring acts of the FSM, he is the starting point guard for the West, so the minute the Clippers traded for him, it became clear that LA would have two starters.
Or should I say LA would have four starters? Eighty percent of the Western Conference starters come from the City of Angels this year, with Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum of the Lakers joining Paul and Griffin. The lone non-LA starter in the West is Kevin Durant of the Thunder.
In the East the starters are Derrick Rose of Chicago, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James of Miami, Carmelo Anthony of New York and Dwight Howard of Orlando. Again, no surprises.
In fact, this was probably the most clear cut All Star voting in the history of the process. It's just unusual to have such clear cut choices in each of the six categories, East and West, Forwards, Guards and Centers. The closest 'race' for a starting spot ended up being between Griffin and Pau Gasol of the Lakers for the second forward spot in the West. But with a margin of over 400,000 votes (876,451 to 470,353), it's not as if it was much of a race.
By way of contrast, in last year's voting (which went on much longer because the season started on time) there were races for East forward (Amare Stoudemire versus Kevin Garnett), East Guard (Rose versus Rajon Rondo), West Forward (Anthony versus Gasol) and West Center (the injured Yao Ming versus Bynum) that were all closer than any race this year.
As strange as it will be to see two Clippers starting in the All Star game, get used to it. Paul is 26 and Griffin is 22, and should be fixtures in the game for many years to come.