On Tuesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that forward Kevin Love had arthroscopic knee surgery on his left knee and will miss at least the next six weeks. This isn’t good news for the Cavaliers, but it’s probably not going to derail their chances of earning at least a Top-3 seed in the NBA Playoffs.
That’s not the main point of this article, though.
Love was also named an All-Star this year. The injury announcement also eliminates any possibility of him playing next Sunday in New Orleans. Because of that, Commissioner Adam Silver gets to pick a last minute replacement. That player could be Bradley Beal.
This season, Beal’s averaging career highs in scoring (22.3), assists (3.7), field goal percentage (47.2 percent), and three pointer made (2.9) per game. In addition, Beal has remained healthy, where he has played 50 of the Wizards’ 54 games. When you also consider that the Wizards are 33-21 right now and just 4.5 games behind the Cavs for first place in the East, Beal should be one of the front runners for Love’s spot.
He certainly is expected to be up there, but there are also some other players who could be in the running. Here’s a list of some folks who also make a case:
- Joel Embiid, 76ers - The rookie center is averaging 20.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, and 2.1 apg while averaging just 25 minutes a contest. Furthermore, he’s on minutes restrictions and simply the major force behind Philly’s relative resurgence from being awful last year (10-72) to just being a sub .500 team (21-34). Since Love is a frontcourt player while Beal is a backcourt player, it’s possible that Silver may decide to go that route with a replacement.
- Carmelo Anthony, Knicks - Anthony has remained a consistent high volume scorer (23.2 ppg) this season for New York, who has otherwise had a disappointing season on and off the court.
- Dwyane Wade, Bulls - Wade has remained relatively healthy this season and is a fan favorite. His production isn’t as good as Beal’s and Chicago isn’t at the Wizards’ level either. Wade’s probably not getting in this year, but he did finish second in fan voting.
- Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks - The sophomore forward’s efficiency has improved where he’s averaging 18.5 ppg and 7.1 rpg. Better yet, Porzingis has shown no signs of a “sophomore slump” after an impressive rookie campaign last year. The NBA is also a global league, so maybe his Latvian citizenship gives him that final push to Nawlins. Either way, this guy’s on his way to multiple All-Star appearances for years to come.
- Dwight Howard, Hawks - He’s not in his prime anymore, but Howard’s still averaging 13.6 points and 12.9 rebounds a game, where he’s out Gortat-ing Marcin ... except for free throws.
- Al Horford, Celtics - Like Love, he’s a frontcourt player. And like Draymond Green, he’s a do it all guy, averaging 14.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, and 5 apg. Finally, the Celtics are doing better than the Wizards this season. So far.
Silver will announce the injury replacement later this week. My gut is telling me that it’ll be a very close call between him and Horford. I just hope that Beal wins out.