The NBA All-Star starters were announced last week, but the big story captivating the basketball world was not related to the actual starters, but rather the fact Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was not among them. The NBA implemented a new All-Star voting system this year, with fans accounting for 50 percent of the vote. Current players accounted for 25 percent and the media accounted for 25 percent to determine the All Star starters. Westbrook was actually tied with Stephen Curry and James Harden in the points tally after finishing first in the media and player vote and third in the fan vote, but Curry and Harden beat him out because the overall fan vote was the tiebreaker. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double this season and is a frontrunner for MVP.
Jabari Parker punished for violated team rules
Milwaukee Bucks’ young sensation Jabari Parker did not start in Saturday’s road loss to Miami for violating a team rule that prohibits discussing private locker room information to the media. Bucks coach Jason Kidd refused to say in a press conference specifically which team rule Parker broke, but Parker confirmed he wrongfully discussed locker room dialogue to media members. The Bucks’ young star is having a career year, averaging 20 points per game.
Kawhi Leonard emerging as top-tier superstar
In the San Antonio Spurs’ Saturday night matchup with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, they handed Cleveland its first loss of the season that it was leading after the third quarter. Whenever the Cavaliers take the court, all eyes are deservedly on LeBron James. However, whenever James faces off against the Spurs, the big story continues to be how well Kawhi Leonard matches up with the best player in the world. Leonard scored a career-high 41 points with James guarding him Saturday, with 18 of those coming in the fourth quarter. This is the second time in four games Leonard has scored at least 35 points, and he has scored 30 points in six consecutive games (tied for the third-longest streak in Spurs history). Leonard’s impressive play, especially against James, has undoubtedly put him into the conversation as a top-five player in the NBA.