Chris Paul was selected by the coaches to represent the Western Conference as an All Star reserve today, an outcome that was not a foregone conclusion, unlike in prior years. It's the eighth ASG appearance of Paul's career, and he's made it all four years since joining the Los Angeles Clippers teammate. He'll join his LAC teammate Blake Griffin on the team -- Griffin was selected to start by the fans.
The other Western Conference reserves are James Harden of the Rockets, Tim Duncan of the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers, Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Thunder. The other starters are Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.
The truth is that in the West, you could fill 20 or more All Star spots without reaching -- unlike in the East. Which means that there were a slew of notable omissions. No one from the Mavericks made the team, while either Monta Ellis Dirk Nowitzki were worthy. Damian Lillard of the Blazer is perhaps the biggest omission, but he and Ellis as well as Mike Conley of the Grizzlies all play guard in the West -- in the deepest positional talent pool in a long, long time. DeMarcus Cousins is putting up monster numbers in Sacramento, but he never really had a chance -- there was no way the coaches were going to pick anyone from a team with a losing record when five Western Conference teams are flirting with a .700 winning percentage.
Bryant is out for the season, which will open up another spot -- probably for Lillard. Bryant's on the roster will be chosen by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The decision of whom to start in place of Bryant will fall to coach Steve Kerr.
If there's a controversy here, it's that Westbrook (who has missed 30% of the season to date due to injury) and Durant (who has missed more than half of the games) are on the team -- but there's no hard and fast rule for how to make that decision. It's worth noting that the fans left Durant off the list of starters -- but the coaches found a spot for him.
By team it breaks down as a pair of players for the Clippers, Warriors and Thunder and one each for the Grizzlies, Blazers, Rockets, Spurs, Pelicans and Lakers. Bryant is the only player from a team with a losing record. Dallas has the best record of any team to get frozen out.
In the East, where the quality resumes don't pile up quite so high, the reserves are Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh of the Heat, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Al Horford of the Hawks, Kyrie Irving of the Cavs and Jimmy Butler of the Bulls. In the West, it was a prerequisite to play on a team with a winning record -- in the East the 20-25 Heat placed not one but two players on the list of reserves.
Snubs in the East? There weren't any. Not worth mentioning anyway.
Many "experts" left Paul off their lists, but there was never much chance that the coaches would -- they get it. It certainly helped that the Clippers recent run moved the team up into a tie for third in the conference; had he been omitted, it would have been strictly due to the "they don't deserve a second all star" factor. Paul's impact and indeed his numbers are still great, and the coaches who have to face him know that full well. Happily Paul is also a great addition to any All Star team -- in an exhibition where everyone else is waiting for their next chance to shoot the ball, it's great to have at least one person who would rather pass.