If the latest batch of voting results for the NBA All-Star Game is a tell-tale sign, and several players remain injured, Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin could make his first career appearance at the league’s seminal event.
The 25-year-old is fourth in the latest results, behind Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, and Chris Paul to start in the Western Conference’s backcourt next month.
Fan voting for the starters ends on Monday, Jan. 20, and the final results will be announced on Jan. 23. This year is the second straight for fans to vote via social media, which likely provided a huge lift to Lin with many of his supporters overseas.
The Golden State Warriors star Curry will likely start alongside Clippers leader Paul if Bryant remains out with a fracture in his left knee. However, Paul’s status for the game isn’t etched in stone either, with the NBA’s top assist man out for the last six games, and likely another month at best, with a separated shoulder.
Bryant told ESPN before the Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday, that he will have his knee re-evaluated early next month and that he plans on returning no matter how far his team falls in the standings. But that’s no indication Bryant intends to play on All-Star weekend.
Should that scenario play out, Lin has an outside chance of making his first All-Star team. Injury replacements are actually picked by the NBA commissioner, and it could be a huge early decision for the newly crowned Adam Silver.
Silver will take over for David Stern on Feb. 1, and could either support the nearly 500,000 fans that voted for Lin or face the wrath of supporters for Houston’s James Harden or San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker. Portland Trail Blazers' rising star Damian Lillard could also be considered in just his second season, but he along with Harden and Parker will likely be picked by the coaches as reserves.
Lin brushed off back and knee injuries last month and has re-discovered his touch outside, shooting a career-high 47 percent from the floor for 13.9 points and 4.3 assists per game this season. Lin has been especially important for Houston with Patrick Beverley sidelined for the last 13 games with a broken hand.
The 63rd annual All-Star game will be held at New Orleans Arena on Sunday, Feb. 16, after two days of festivities leading up.