Dirk Nowitzki is headed to his 13th NBA All-Star game. The Dallas Mavericks forward has reportedly been selected to replace New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis for the Western Conference this weekend, as first reported by ESPN's Tim MacMahon :
The NBA made things official via Adi Joseph of USA Today, and Jeff Caplan of NBA.com had Nowitzki's thoughts, saying "This year it threw a little bit of a wrench into my plans, but I am very excited."
Davis, who was selected to make his first All-Star start, pulled out of the game Wednesday night due to a lingering shoulder injury:
“After careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided I will not be participating in this year’s NBA All-Star competitions," Davis said in a statement. "I want to thank the fans for voting me into the All-Star game and I am sorry I will not be able to play. While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to compete this weekend, I’m still very excited about the opportunity to be a part of the All-Star events in New York and celebrate our game with some of the NBA’s greatest figures."
Davis suffered a shoulder sprain finishing an alley-oop against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. He sat out the Pelicans' final two games before the All-Star break.
While Davis' absence removes perhaps the game's brightest young star from the festivities, it opens a spot for an elder statesman. Nowitzki is making his second straight appearance and 13th in the past 14 years. When the NBA confirms his selection, the future Hall of Famer will become just the 14th player in NBA history with at least 13 All-Star appearances.
Even at age 36, Nowitzki remains an incredibly consistent and efficient performer. He is averaging 18.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, shooting 46.9 percent from the field. The Mavericks are scoring 113.4 points per 100 possessions with Nowitzki on the floor, a number that would destroy the league-high, per Basketball-Reference.
The return of Tyson Chandler at center has added a natural rim-runner and allowed Nowitzki to conserve his health by avoiding banging bodies down low almost entirely, which has paid dividends keeping him in the lineup. Despite missing the occasional back-to-back for rest, Nowitzki has sat out only four times.
Few will quibble with Nowitzki's selection, though it's possible some will say he had a teammate more deserving. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spent the days before coaches finalized their votes actively campaigning for leading scorer Monta Ellis.
Reclamation after years of being a chucker on bad teams, Ellis is averaging 20.0 points and 4.5 assists per game. He is yet to be named an All-Star in his decade-long NBA career.
Nowitzki is the fourth replacement player named to Sunday's All-Star Game in New York and third in the West. Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and Davis were each voted starters but were forced to drop out due to injury. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade pulled out in the East.
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