2017 NBA All-Star Game Won't Lack Excitement, Drama

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 2/13/2017, 3:28 p.m.
The NBA All-Star Game is around the corner, and there is no shortage of story lines leading up to the ...

By Jill Martin

CNN

(CNN) -- The NBA All-Star Game is around the corner, and there is no shortage of story lines leading up to the 66th playing of this game.

For starters, the location. Originally, this year's game was scheduled to be in Charlotte, North Carolina. But because of the state's controversial transgender bathroom law, the NBA moved the event to the Smoothie King Center -- home of the New Orleans Pelicans. This will be the third time New Orleans has hosted the All-Star Game.

In July, the NBA said it hopes to hold the 2019 game in Charlotte "provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter."

Another talking point is who got voted in, because this year was the first time NBA players and basketball media joined fans in voting for the starters. The fan vote made up 50% while the current players and a panel of basketball media counted as 25% each. Previously, only fans voted for the starters for the Eastern and Western Conference teams.

With that in mind, here is a look at the All-Star Game starting lineups:

Eastern Conference Starters:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Western Conference Starters:

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors James Harden, Houston Rockets Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

Uh, someone's missing

At a quick glance, this looks pretty good, right? But there is a glaring omission.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple double (recording on average double digits in points, rebounds and assists per game). The only player to ever do that through an entire season is Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson in 1961-62.

But despite the feat, Westbrook, who also leads the NBA in scoring, didn't garner enough votes to start. Fans ranked Westbrook third out of the Western Conference guards, while the media and players each ranked him first.

"It is what it is," Westbrook said in January after the results came out. "That's the nature of the business, the game. I just play. I don't play for All-Star bids. I play to win championships, and every night I compete at a high level, and it'll work out.

"I just continue doing what I'm doing and play the game the right way, and everything else will work out."

While he's not starting, Westbrook is one of the reserves, who were selected by NBA head coaches. Here's that list:

Eastern Conference All-Star Reserves

Paul George, Indiana Pacers Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets John Wall, Washington Wizards

Western Conference All-Star Reserves

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Which leads to another tantalizing angle. Westbrook will be on the same team as Durant, who left the Thunder for the loaded Warriors in free agency. Durant's breakup with Oklahoma City -- and Westbrook -- did not go over well. The last time the Warriors faced the Thunder, cameras caught them jawing at each other during a timeout.