Who Replaces Kobe Bryant in All-Star Game?

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Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that shooting guard Kobe Bryant will be out at least three more weeks due to pain and swelling in his left knee. That means that the NBA will have to find a replacement for Bryant in the 2014 All-Star Game. Bryant, despite being injured, was selected a starter for the Western Conference after receiving 988,884 All-Star votes from fans.

Now, it seems soon-to-be NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will have his first ‘official’ decision to make in choosing a replacement for Bryant. While the NBA’s head coaches select the All-Star reserves, the commissioner’s office has traditionally been responsible for replacing an injured player.

Prior to today’s diagnosis, even though Bryant called it an “honor” to be selected by the fans, he also publicly endorsed some of the younger players as more suitable options given the circumstances. Bryant, who originally injured his knee back in December, was initially expected to miss six weeks. Following today’s news, the 18-year veteran is expected to miss another three weeks before being re-evaluated at that time. He has appeared in just six games for the Lakers this season.

So who will replace Bryant on the Western Conference All-Star team?

Silver has plenty of options at his disposal given how deep and talented the West is, but conventional wisdom would likely point to Houston’s James Harden as the most likely replacement.This season, Harden has averaged 23.7 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds for the 30-10 Rockets. Harden is the best shooting guard among Silver’s options.

Aside from Harden, the next three best guards in the West are all point guards.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (if healthy), Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker all appear to be locks to be selected by the coaches, if not as Bryant’s replacement.

Paul has averaged 19.6 points, 11.2 assists and 2.4 steals for the 32-15 Clippers. Lillard has averaged 20.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds for the 33-12 Blazers. Parker has averaged 18.1 points, 6.3 assists and 2.4 rebounds for the 33-12 Spurs.

Had Bryant been able to participate, this would’ve been his 16th All-Star game. The 2014 NBA All-Star game is Sunday, February 16th in New Orleans.