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NOTES COLUMN: Aldridge, Batum worthy of All-Star consideration; Drexler ready to judge and host NBA's big event

Musings as we charge full speed ahead into another busy sports weekend ...

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers will be considered for a spot in the NBA All-Star Game.Much is being bandied about in P-Town regarding the chances of Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge for selection to the NBA All-Star Game Feb. 17 at Houston.

But what about Nicolas Batum?

A case could be made that Batum is more deserving that his more-acclaimed teammate — especially of late as the Trail Blazers have made an impressive charge up the Western Conference standings.

Aldridge, 27, has had a fine season. The 6-11 power forward and seventh-year pro ranks eighth in the NBA in scoring at 20.6 points per game while averaging 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He is shooting .464 from the field and .809 from the free-throw line.

Batum, 24, is having a breakout year. The 6-8 small forward from France, in his fifth NBA season, is averaging 16.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting .429 from the field, .360 from 3-point range and .871 from the line.

If you had to pick one of the two in regards to defensive prowess, it would be Batum, who can guard any position on the floor other than center.

Remember, a change in the voting process for starters allows for three front-line players (rather than a center and two forwards) and two backcourt players in each conference. That gives Aldridge (and ostensibly, Batum) a better chance, because there are few worthy centers in the game today.

The Western Conference front-line starters are going to be Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Dwight Howard of the Lakers and Blake Griffin of the Clippers.

That leaves four or five front-line reserves to be added — and the list has been pared by the injuries to Minnesota’s Kevin Love and the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and the only recent return to duty of Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki. Among candidates in the West are Golden State’s David Lee, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Memphis’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, Utah’s Al Jefferson and Houston’s Omer Asik.

All of those players are power forwards and centers. When you’re talking small forwards, who other than Durant is better than Batum in the West?

Batum, incidentally, is one of four players in the league to average 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. The others are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook.

The reserves are added on Jan. 24 after a vote of the conference’s coaches. Batum’s emergence may not help Aldridge’s candidacy in that it may split the vote of some of the coaches.

Clyde Drexler will be an unofficial ambassador for Houston when his city plays host to the All-Star Game next month. The former Trail Blazer great and Hall of Famer will be a judge at the slam-dunk contest and play host to many friends and former colleagues visiting for the weekend.

“Houston did a phenomenal job of hosting the 2006 game, and hopefully 2013 will be even better,” says Drexler, 51. “There will be a lot of reminiscing, a good chance to see the legends and a lot of the old-timers who have made the game great.”

Drexler, who serves as TV analyst for Rockets home games, says the acquisition of guard James Harden “gives them respect and puts them at a level where they can now make the playoffs. When you can get a top-10 player in the league — and he’s young — you gotta like that.”

Clyde the Glide keeps close tabs on the Blazers, too.

“I played 11 1/2 years in Portland,” he says. “I still bleed Blazer red and black.

“Aldridge is the foundation. Batum has really picked up his game. I love (Damian) Lillard. He’s going to be a really good pro for a long time. He was a great draft pick, and already is steady. They need a couple of more pieces to go with them. Matthews is a good piece. When he shows up, they’re tough to beat. They need one more big guy who shows up every night. Maybe (Meyers) Leonard will be that guy.”

Drexler’s youngest son, Adam, is a 6-5 walk-on freshman guard at Loyola-Marymount. The junior Drexler has scored three points and played 29 minutes in five games for the Lions.

“Adam is playing behind some upperclassmen right now,” his father says, “but he’s going to make his mark there pretty soon.”

Drexler says coach Dana Altman offered his son the opportunity to walk on at Oregon, but Adam’s Jesuit academic background (Loyola is a private Jesuit school) and the Lions’ style of play were appealing.

Drexler is familiar with two Houston natives who are playing their college ball in the state — Oregon State’s Eric Moreland and Oregon’s Damyean Dotson.

Moreland practiced against Adam Drexler’s AAU team, the Houston Preps, two summers ago. Dotson practiced two or three times and played two or three games with the outfit, Drexler says.

“Both are very talented kids,” Drexler says. “Moreland has athleticism and good handle for a big guy. Damyean is an all-around player, a great kid. I’m not surprised he is doing so well.

More changes at Fox Sports Radio (KPOJ AM 620): Blazer radio play-by-play man Brian Wheeler launches a new version of “Wheels at Work” next Wednesday. His Monday-through-Friday show will air from 3-4 p.m., with Scott Lynn filling in when Wheeler is on the road with the Blazers.

Lynn’s “Beaver Nation Live” show is now broadcast from 7-8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The new lineup on the station includes a simulcast of Mitch Levy’s “Mitch in the Morning” from Seattle’s KJR from 6-9 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Among the recent layoffs at “The Game” (KXTG AM 750) is Jay Allen, longtime sports director and fixed on the electronic media scene in the city. Allen is a quality guy and reporter who has been a good friend over the years. Here’s hoping he soon lands on his feet with an even better gig.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers