The NBA unveiled its All-Star starters this past week for the upcoming All-Star Game, which will occur on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. in Chicago. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker and Trae Young will represent the East. LeBron James leads an impressive cast of starters for the West, including Anthony Davis, James Harden, Luka Dončić and Kawhi Leonard.
I’ve chronicled Antetokounmpo’s incredible season in the past, but his teammates are no slouchers. Embiid has helped lead the Philladelphia 76ers to a 30-17 record on the strength of 23 points, 12 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, earning his third All-Star appearance. Siakam has emerged from Leonard’s shadow to lead the Toronto Raptors to a second seed in the East while averaging 24 points and eight rebounds per game. This will be his first All-Star appearance.
In the backcourt for the East, Kemba Walker earns his fourth All-Star game appearance, as his 22 points and five assists per game have led the Boston Celtics to 30 wins. His running mate will be Trae Young, whose candidacy was heavily contested due to the Atlanta Hawks’ awful season thus far. Nonetheless, Young’s numbers prove his mettle, as he’s averaged 30 points and nine assists per game to earn his first All-Star game appearance.
James has had yet another historic season for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 25 points, a league-leading 11 assists and eight rebounds. This will be his 16th All Star appearance. His Lakers running mate Davis, whose admirable season I’ve also covered prior, earns his seventh straight nomination. The two have helped the Lakers to a first-place standing in the West at 36-10.
Harden has had another incredible offensive season, leading the league with 36 points per game and leading the Houston Rockets to a 28-17 record. Dončić has put up incredible numbers of his own, recording a near triple double per game with 29 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to 28-17 as well. Finally, Leonard has averaged 27 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals per game to propel the Los Angeles Clippers to 33-14.
The voting system used to nominate these players was comprised of votes from fan, current NBA players and a media panel. The reserves will have been selected on Jan. 30.
Expect to see big names like the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons earn the nod as reserves for the East. In the West, the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and Houston’s Russell Westbrook will likely hear their names called.
As a final note, the reigning first pick in the draft, Zion Williamson, made his NBA debut last week against the Spurs. In three total games, he’s averaged 19 points and eight rebounds per contest on an astounding 66.7% from the field in only 22 minutes. The Pelicans will undoubtedly be a fun team to watch the rest of this season.