Earlier this week, the NBA announced the reserves to go along with the starters for the 70th NBA All-Star Game on March 7. The east reserves are headlined by Nets guard James Harden, who will be appearing in his ninth consecutive All-Star game. Chris Paul and Zion Williamson headline the West’s dichotomy, which features savvy veterans and young budding stars.
The Eastern Conference starters consist of the rest of the Nets big three—Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant—along with Wizards star Bradley Beal, Milwaukee’s former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and 76ers MVP Candidate Joel Embiid. For the West, Luke Doncic and Steph Curry hold down the backcourt, while Lebron James, Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic fill out the rest of the lineup.
On March 4, captains of the East (Kevin Durant) and the West (LeBron James) will draft from the rest of the field. They’ll first draft the starters, then move into picking reserves.
For the West, this list includes Paul, Williamson, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard and Donovan Mitchell. Along with Harden, the East’s reserves are Ben Simmons, Jaylen Brown, Zach Lavine, Julius Randle, Jayson Tatum and Nikola Vucevic.
As with every All-Star game, tough choices had to be made, and star players were left missing out. The biggest snub in the Western Conference was Devin Booker, who is leading the Phoenix Suns to a much-better-than-predicted start to the season. 76ers forward Tobias Harris is in the midst of a career year for the top team in the East and did not earn his first All-Star selection.
LeBron James continues to make history and now sits in third place for most all-time All-Star selections with 17 – he has been in every game since 2004. For Durant, this marks his 11th straight All-Star season.
As is traditional, the top team in each conference will have their coaching staff represented. Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers will coach Team Durant, and Utah’s Quinn Snyder will lead Team LeBron.
Following the great success of last year’s game, the NBA will follow the same format. The first three quarters will be their own game, and before the fourth quarter, a target score will be set. Then, an untimed period of play will take place, with the game ending on a “buzzer-beater.” The NBA will donate over $2.5 million to HBCU’s and COVID-19 relief organizations.
The All-Star Game is not the only event that weekend, though it will look different than expected. Rather than a weekend full of activities, the Skills and three-point contests will occur before the game, and the Slam Dunk contest will be at halftime.
The NBA plans to establish a mini-bubble for the players and coaches to protect from COVID-19 related issues, but players have sounded off on the idea of hosting a game. Many, including LeBron James, have criticized the NBA for hosting an event in the middle of the pandemic. No player has officially announced they will not participate, but it is a safe bet that many soon will.