The NBA has finally completed the roster for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. Yes, in keeping with the tradition done annually, there will be a 2021 NBA All-Star Game. And yes, in keeping with the protocols set in lieu of the COVID crisis, the festivities will be toned down, stripped to its barest minimum, and compressed to fit into a single night affair.
The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will be held at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta this March 7. Fans and the media got to vote for the starters coming from the Eastern and Western conference, while the reserves were voted in by the league’s coaches. For garnering the most fan votes for the Eastern and Western Conferences, Lebron James and Kevin Durant were designated as the team captains in their respective squads. In an unfortunate turn of events, Kevin Durant has had to be replaced due to a hamstring injury. Whether that will affect his designation as team captain is still up in the air.
The complete rosters for both the East and the West are as follows:
Starting for the East are the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant (to be replaced by Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum due to injury) and Kyrie Irving, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid. For the West, it will be the LA Lakers’ Lebron James, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavs’ Luka Doncic, Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic and the LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard.
Rounding off the reserves for the East, we have Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the Nets’ James Harden, the Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle, the 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Orlando Magics’ Nikola Vucevic, and the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis (replacing Jayson Tatum who was elevated to starter due to Durant’s injury).
For the West, we have the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (replaced by Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker due to injury), the Clippers’ Paul George, the Utah Jazz’ Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Portland Trailblazers’ Damian Lillard, the Suns’ Chris Paul and the New Orleans’ Pelicans Zion Williamson.
Brown, LaVine, Randle and Williamson – all from the Eastern conference – will be playing in the All Stars for the first time. Conspicuously absent from the list are: Atlanta’s Trae Young (who was a starter last year), Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo (who both starred in Miami Heat’s spectacular season last year), the Washington Wizards’ Russell Westbrook, Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and Paskal Siakam, the San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan, the Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant and the Bucks’ second star, Kris Middleton.
Also significant here is the entry of more foreign players. A record of 5 foreigners were selected starters this year: Giannis (Greece), Embiid (Cameroon), Doncic (Slovenia), Jokic (Serbia) and Irving (Australia). This clearly demonstrates how the game has expanded across the globe. Other foreign players include: Simmons (Australia), Vucevic (Montenegro), Sabonis (Lithuania) and Gobert (France).
This year’s one-night All-Star festivities will feature a skills competition, a 3-point competition and a dunk contest. All other features presented in previous All-Star events have been cancelled due to the COVID protocols.
How the team line-ups are finalized is as follows. The designated captains will take turns in a playground style draft to be held before the All-Star Game. This means that battle lines are no longer drawn between the East and West, and that players can end up playing with those coming from the other conference. The first captain gets to choose first from among the starters, while the second captain gets to choose first for the reserves. As of now, no word has been given if Durant remains as designated team captain despite his inability to play.
The idea of using the playground-style draft came about due to the popular perception that the West teams have been traditionally stronger than their Eastern conference counterparts. This year, however, there has been a significant change in that there has been a migration of stars from the West going to the East, in particular Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Still, NBA records will affirm the fact that Western teams still outshine their Eastern rivals in the win-loss numbers.
This week, we will have the 2 captains finalize the line-ups of the 2 teams. Come and watch the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. With this format, expect to see new alignments, new chemistry, new highlights moves, and much more excitement.
Cover photo courtesy of Inside Sport.