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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Point Guard Injuries Could Open Up All-Star Opportunities, Shift Balance of Power in the League

Monday night brought bad news to two of the NBA's top contenders, as Orlando's All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson dislocated his right shoulder and New Orleans' All-Star point guard Chris Paul strained his groin. Both players will undergo MRIs to determine the full extent of their injuries but early indications are that Nelson will be out for weeks. The Magic currently have the third best record in the East, while the Hornets are fifth in the West. Orlando enjoys a nine game lead over Atlanta, so the Magic can probably withstand the loss of Nelson--but if he is out for an extended period then they will not likely be able to fight for the top seed and they could potentially have trouble in their first round playoff matchup if he is out for the year. The Hornets are in even more dire straits if Paul will be sidelined for a while. Not only are they more dependent on him than the Magic are on Nelson but they are only three games ahead of ninth seeded Utah. Hopefully, both MRIs will show minimal damage and these two diminutive dynamos will return to action soon.

If Nelson and/or Paul are unable to participate in the All-Star Game then Commissioner David Stern will select their replacements (and West Coach Phil Jackson would have to name a new starter at point guard if Paul is out). Mo Williams and Ray Allen are two obvious candidates in the East; Allen made the team last year as an injury replacement and has arguably been the most consistent Celtic this season, while Williams is probably the consensus choice as the most worthy point guard in the East who did not get picked. Deron Williams has come on strong in the past month and would be the most deserving choice in the West if Stern elects to pick a point guard but if he simply decides to take the best "snubbed" player then Al Jefferson may get the nod; it is also certainly possible that Stern would choose Steve Nash, who would then get to play in the All-Star Game on his homecourt.

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posted by David Friedman @ 11:46 AM



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