Last week, the NBA revealed the 10 starters for this month’s All-Star Game in Cleveland. Nine of the 10 names were who we expected. Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, Trae Young, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Ja Morant and Stephen Curry will be on the court when the game kicks off, but they will be joined by one of the more surprising choices in All-Star history: Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins is a first-time All-Star, and it wasn’t even clear that he would make the team before he was announced as a starter. Once he was selected, the tension for tonight’s reserve announcements rose significantly. Suddenly, things got a little bit tougher for the Western Conference reserve candidates. Now, after those reserves were announced on TNT, we know who made the cut and who missed out.
Things were a fair bit simpler in the Eastern Conference. With the starters sticking to the script, the reserves were a touch more predictable.
Fred VanVleet and Darius Garland are the lone first-time selections among the reserves, but VanVleet also achieved an even rarer feat by making just the fourth undrafted player in NBA history ever to reach an All-Star Game. Ben Wallace, John Starks and Brad Miller were the first three, so VanVleet is in excellent company. Zach LaVine is similarly new to the All-Star experience as this will be just his second appearance in the midseason exhibition. James Harden, the last Eastern Conference guard, has earned more than twice as many All-Star nods as the other three combined. This is his 10th rodeo. Frontcourt selections Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum are both in their third All-Star Games. Jimmy Butler rounds out the East with his sixth appearance.
There are no first-time choices among the reserves in the West. Devin Booker is the lone second-timer, and he is ironically joined by teammate Chris Paul, who is participating in his 12th All-Star Game. He is the elder statesman among the West’s guards, as Donovan Mitchell is playing in his third All-Star Game while Luka Doncic is in his fourth. That’s around where the West’s front court players land. Karl-Anthony Towns was chosen for the third time, same as Rudy Gobert, while Draymond Green was picked for his fourth game.
There are at least two more All-Stars to be named, though. Green revealed that he would not be participating due to the back injury that currently has him out. Durant, dealing with a sprained MCL, will be out as well. Commissioner Adam Silver is responsible for naming replacements for both.
Now that the players themselves have been chosen, they have to land on the proper teams. James and Durant will act as captains in the All-Star draft next Thursday, Feb. 10 to divide up the players. The All-Star Game itself will take place 10 days after that on Sunday, Feb. 20.