3. Russell’s last chance to impress Eastern Conference coaches
The reserves for next month’s NBA All-Star Game will be announced Thursday night, meaning Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls will be the last opportunity for Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell to make his case for one of the seven spots to be chosen by the coaches.
The 22-year-old Russell has emerged as the leader of the Nets this season and has been particularly toasty in January, but faces stiff competition in a crowded backcourt field in the Eastern Conference.
Other guards in the East vying for selection include Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Eric Bledsoe of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers is another strong contender and, if selected by the Eastern coaches, would have to be replaced by Commissioner Adam Silver after rupturing the quad tendon in his right knee last week.
Russell finished ninth in the final voting tally. He was 11th in the fan voting in the East, 10th among players and tied for eighth in the media polling after receiving no votes from the press members who voted.
Among players, Irving and Walker were the top vote-getters, followed by Beal, Oladipo, Simmons, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat and Lowry. Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls tied with Bledsoe and Russell drew 15 player votes, matching the total given to teammate Spencer Dinwiddie.
Seven guards received votes in the media balloting, led again by Irving and Walker and followed by Simmons, Oladipo, Beal, Wade and Lowry.
Russell leads the Nets in scoring and assists, averaging 19.3 points and 6.4 assists per game, while also getting 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 29.4 minutes per game. He’s shooting 44 percent overall and 37.9 percent from 3-point range.
In 13 January games, he’s really picked up the pace, putting up 23.2 points and 7.2 assists per game while shooting 49.2 percent overall and 43.2 percent from deep in 30 minutes a night.
His 48 made 3-pointers this month is a new franchise record for a single month.