The Chicago Bulls announced that Jimmy Butler, who is averaging a career-high 22.4 points and 4.3 assists to go with 5.2 rebounds per game, will miss three to four weeks with a strained left knee, an absence that will keep the 26-year-old guard from playing in the NBA All-Star Game this Sunday in Toronto. Wasting no time, Commissioner Adam Silver selected fellow Bull Pau Gasol as Butler’s replacement.
The 7-foot big man is averaging 10.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, plus has the ability to score (17.0 points per game). His 3.3 assists per game ranks third among bigs who play at least 20 minutes per night.
But there were more worthy candidates out there.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Walker is averaging 20.4 points and 5.1 assists as the point guard for the Hornets, hitting 36.9 percent of his shots from beyond the three-point line.
He isn’t proficient in transition (1.09 points per possession) but he does score well as the ball handler on the pick and roll (0.86 points per possession) and spotting up opponents (1.14 points per possession with a 56.7 percent effective field goal percentage).
Walker’s no-dribble jumper is particularly accurate from long range, averaging 1.32 points per possession.
Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have their best player, Andre Drummond, already on the all-star squad, but the team’s point guard is also deserving. He is averaging 19.1 points and 6.2 assists per game. When he is on the court, the Pistons score 108 points per 100 possessions. That drops to 101 when he is on the bench.
Jackson is also good defensively, holding opponents to 0.87 points per possession on 40.6 percent shooting.
Despite all being solid replacement candidates, Walker slightly edges out the other two. He has a true shooting percentage (54.0 percent) closest to Butler’s (57 percent) and also has the highest value over replacement among the field.