New Orleans forward Zion Williamson can now be called the NBA All-Star, and only three others in the game’s 70-year history have made it there at a younger age.
Williamson is one of four All-Stars for the first time, all revealed Tuesday night when the league announced reservations for the March 7 game in Atlanta. Joining him as fellow All-Star rookies: Jaylen Brown of Boston, Julius Randle of the Knicks and Zach LaVine of Chicago.
Chris Paul of Phoenix is an All-Star for the 11th time, and James Harden of the Nets is for the ninth year in a row. The remaining reserves include Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic of the Eastern Conference, along with Los Angeles Lakers ‘Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George, Utah teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy. Gobert, and Portland Damian Lillard of the Western Conference.
“It’s definitely an honor,” Mitchell said.
Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets will select their teams next week, and rosters will be released on March 4. The headlines, revealed last week, were chosen by a combination of fan voting, NBA players. and a media panel.
The reserves were chosen by vote by the league’s head coaches.
“You do the best you can,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. “It’s not easy. … Every year, it’s difficult, and when you look at this year in the East, there were several guys who are worthy of achieving it. So, it’s difficult every year.
Atlanta’s Trae Young, an All-Star last season, is not this year despite averaging 26.9 points coming in Tuesday, the most among those who were not drafted. Miami forwards Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler didn’t make the cut, and neither did Phoenix’s Devin Booker.
“Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league !! Simple as that, ”James tweeted.
Utah’s Mike Conley, someone the NBA’s leading Jazz desperately wanted to see get there for what would have been the first time, also missed the go-ahead.
“For a guy like him who has done so much in his career, on and off the court, he deserves it,” Mitchell said of Conley.
Not enough coaches agreed. There is still a chance for Conley, because Davis is likely to miss the game due to injury. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select any injury replacement; a player who retires will be replaced by another from their respective conference.
Williamson is 20 years old and only Kobe Bryant, James and Magic Johnson were younger in their All-Star debut. There have been six other 20-year-olds chosen for previous All-Star Games, but all were closer to turning 21 at the time than Williamson is now.
Randle has been the best player for the Knicks, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Brown is averaging 25.5 points, his career-high, for Boston. And LaVine has been to All-Star Weekend many times before, winning two dunk contests and an MVP award in the Rising Stars game. But this will be his first time at the All-Star Game.
James and Durant will pick first from eight other starters for their teams when the draft takes place: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Dallas’s Luka Doncic, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving , Nikola Jokic of Denver and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers.