The NBA announced the reserve picks for next month’s All-Star Game in Atlanta Tuesday night, a list headed by Brooklyn Nets star James Harden, as well as center Rudy Gobert and point guard Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, leader of the league.
Harden, the NBA’s MVP of 2018, represents Brooklyn for the first time in what will be his ninth consecutive All-Star appearance. The previous eight came with the Houston Rockets, who traded Harden to Brooklyn as part of a four-team deal last month. Since the trade, Harden has averaged 24.9 points and 11.4 assists per game in 18 games for Brooklyn. He will be joined by teammates Kevin Durant, one of the two captains, along with Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who were chosen as starters last week.
In addition to Harden, the other six picks in the Eastern Conference were: point guard Jaylen Brown and forward Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle; Zach LaVine, point guard for the Chicago Bulls; Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons; and the center of the Orlando Magic, Nikola Vucevic.
Brown, the favorite for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season, is averaging professional highs across the board for the Celtics, including points (25.5), assists (3.9), and all three shooting percentage categories: Goal Goal! field (49.7), 3 points (40.9) and free throws (76.6), which helped him win his first All-Star selection. Tatum, meanwhile, is averaging a career-high 26.4 points per game, and is making his second straight appearance in the league’s midseason display.
Vucevic will make his second All-Star appearance, having made his first two seasons, and is averaging a career-high 24.1 points per game and shooting his career-best 40% from 3-point range. Simmons, meanwhile, will make his third consecutive All-Star appearance; the full guard is, along with starter Joel Embiid, a big reason the Sixers entered Tuesday with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
They will be joined by a pair of first-time All-Stars from two of the league’s flagship franchises at Randle and LaVine, who have long-standing careers. Randle, who has helped lead the Knicks 15-16 to a surprising contest for a playoff spot, is averaging his career best in virtually every category playing with Tom Thibodeau, while LaVine is averaging his career highs. of 28.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
Over the past few weeks, there has been an intense debate about who would deserve the last couple of seats in the East, with a host of candidates gaining support. In the end, however, the league’s coaches ended up leaving out several of them, including: Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo and forward Jimmy Butler; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton; 76ers forward Tobias Harris; Fred VanVleet, point guard for the Toronto Raptors; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Domantas Sabonis; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young; and Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward.
In the west, Gobert and Mitchell were the headliners, as they were the two representatives of the Jazz on a roll, which faces Wednesday’s matchup against the Lakers on ESPN with the best record in the NBA and after winning 20 their last 22 games. Gobert, who is poised to win his third Defensive Player of the Year award, makes his second straight All-Star appearance this season after a pair of misses in previous seasons. It is also the second consecutive appearance for Mitchell, who is averaging a career-high of 24.5 points and 5.2 assists this season.
They were joined by: Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard; LA Clippers forward Paul George; Lakers forward Anthony Davis; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson.
Lillard could easily have started as he is having another stellar season, averaging 29.8 points and 7.7 assists and keeping Portland in the playoffs picture despite guard CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic being out with long-standing injuries. duration. Meanwhile, George is back in the All-Star Game for the seventh time after missing last year, his first in Los Angeles, after injuries delayed the start of his season. Davis, on the other hand, will almost certainly be replaced by someone before the All-Star Game due to the calf strain that currently has the Lakers star offside.
The last two spots at West went to one of the league’s oldest stars at Paul and one of the youngest at Williamson. Paul, whom Phoenix acquired before the season, makes his 11th All-Star appearance and the second in a row after making the roster last year for Oklahoma City. Williamson, the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, makes his first appearance after averaging 25.1 points and shooting more than 60% from the field.
Those two edged out a field of candidates for the last couple of spots that included: San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan; Thunder Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander; Jazz guard Mike Conley, who continues to hold the unofficial title of best player who never made an All-Star team; Devin Booker, shooting guard for the Suns; and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.
As in recent seasons, the NBA will combine the All-Stars into a group, which will be divided into two teams by captains James and Durant. Jazz coach Quin Snyder will lead James’ team, while Sixers coach Doc Rivers will lead Durant’s team.
The game will also feature, like last year, the Elam Ending, in which teams play with a final score instead of a timed fourth quarter. Like last year, that final score will be determined by taking the combined score of the team ahead by three quarters and adding 24 points, in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, to that total.