It took several injuries to get him there, but Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker will be an All-Star in back-to-back seasons.
The NBA announced Thursday that Walker will replace injured New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis as a reserve in the All-Star Game Feb. 18 in Los Angeles. Walker was an All-Star last season, selected by Eastern Conference coaches as a reserve.
Porzingis was diagnosed with an ACL tear after injuring himself in Tuesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Walker said last month, after Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love suffered a broken hand, that he would love to be named an All-Star replacement.
Walker, 27, is averaging 22.6 points and 5.8 assists, productivity comparable to last season. However, the Hornets’ record ( 23-30) probably worked against him when the Eastern Conference coaches picked seven reserves.
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Since those selections were made, three players from the Eastern Conference - Love, Washington Wizards guard John Wall and Porzingis - had to drop out because of injury. Previously, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver named Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic as replacements.
Walker became Charlotte’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals on Feb. 4, surpassing the previous high of 929 by Dell Curry.
Walker’s logical competition for this spot was probably the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons , who is averaging 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
The NBA has shaken up its All-Star Game format this season. Instead of the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference, All-Stars Stephen Curry and LeBron James were chosen as captains, and chose teams in a pick-up game fashion.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell