Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragic has been selected to replace Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, per an official announcement from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earlier Thursday.
Dragic will play for Team LeBron in the exhibition game, which is the team drafted by Cleveland Cavaliers star forward LeBron James. Dragic is the third injury replacement for James’ drafted team, joining Paul George and Andre Drummond as the other new additions to the squad, as George replaced the injured DeMarcus Cousins, while Drummond replaced the injured John Wall. Love has a broken left hand that will sideline him for 6-8 weeks.
The Heat, who currently sit at 29-22 on the year and the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, will have Dragic as their lone representative on February 18th in Los Angeles. Sharpshooter Wayne Ellington will participate in the NBA’s three-point contest the night before, and Ellington was included in the group of teammates Dragic attributed some of his all-star berth too:
“All the credit goes to them too,” Dragic said. “Without them, this would not be possible. They put me in the right spots so I can be my best, and I’m really grateful and thankful for that.”
Silver’s decision to select Dragic as the replacement stems from the fact that Dragic was next in line. The 31-year-old point guard had the most votes from NBA coaches to be an all-star among the remaining pool of players in the Eastern Conference. If someone else goes down with an injury, expect Lou Williams, Khris Middleton, Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker, and Dragic’s teammate Hassan Whiteside to receive consideration for the open spot.
With his all-star selection today, Dragic has became the 8th player in Heat history to become an all-star. He joins James, Anthony Mason, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade as the other players to do so. Wade was very vocal about his desire to get Dragic to the all-star game on social media:
When the news was officially announced today, Wade followed up that previous tweet with this one:
Dragic is also the first Slovenian-born player in NBA history become an all-star, something Dragic will forever hold close to his heart. He initially had plans to go on vacation during all-star weekend, but is making no complaints about the switching of his schedule:
“I think L.A. is going to be fine,” Dragic said.
Dragic is averaging 17.0 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game this season, while shooting 43% from the field, and 35% from three-point range.
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