Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball and San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray have been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as injury replacements for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. Ball will replace injured Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and Murray will replace injured Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
By rule, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum – as the Eastern Conference All-Star frontcourt reserve who finished highest in starter voting – will replace Durant in the starting lineup. Ball and Murray will join the pool of reserves to get drafted by LeBron James and Durant.
Several Eastern Conference players could’ve made fairly equal claim to Durant’s spot. Any of Ball, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen or Celtics wing Jaylen Brown would have been a perfectly reasonable choice. Though Ball shouldn’t been have picked because of this reason, his flashy style is a perfect fit for an exhibition like this.
Murray is having the best season so far of anyone in the Western Conference who wasn’t already named an All-Star. But a 40-something-game sample isn’t the best criteria for selecting All-Stars. Anthony Davis is better than Murray. Though Davis was playing below his usual lofty standards early in the year and has missed 21 games due to injury, he has looked awesome since returning. If Davis plays near 60 games by the end of the season, it’ll probably look silly that he wasn’t an All-Star this year.
These might not be the only injury replacements. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland has missed more than a week with a back injury. Nets guard James Harden has been battling hamstring tightness. Bulls guard Zach LaVine (back) is banged up, too. Though all three are expected to return soon, it’s also possible any All-Star gets hurt at any time.
But for the first time, the 2022 All-Stars look potentially set.