With the unveiling of the starting line-ups for the 2012 All-Star Game on Thursday night, Oklahoma City Thunder SF Kevin Durant continues his ascendancy up the NBA's hierarchy of stars.
In fan voting, there was a clear dividing line, with seven players expected to top over 1,000,000 votes. It's a who's who list of future Hall of Famers, headlined by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose in the East and Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Durant in the West.
Durant, the leading vote-getter among Western Conference forwards, looks poised to become an All-Star Game starter for most of the next decade. This season, he's averaging 26.6 points on 50.2% shooting, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
And while the other four Western starters -- Kobe, Paul, Blake Griffin and Andrew Bynum -- all play in Los Angeles, Durant has become an international star despite playing in Oklahoma City.
Russell Westbrook is expected to finish well behind Paul and Kobe amidst a huge bunch of point guards in the West, including Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio, Monta Ellis and Kyle Lowry.
Those players, all of whom have a greater role offensively for teams worse than the Thunder, will be Westbrook's main competition to return to the All-Star Game for the second consecutive year.
His numbers are slightly down from 2011, as the fourth-year PG, who just received a maximum contract extension with the Thunder, is averaging 21.9 points on 45.9% shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
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