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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

NBA All-Star Game 2021 Rosters: Starters, Snubs and Predictions for Reserves

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James gestures to teammates during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

With little more than two weeks to go, the rosters for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game were announced Thursday night.

The reserves have yet to be announced—that will happen Tuesday on TNT—but it’s already certain that some players felt they missed out on earning an All-Star starter selection.

Before breaking down who was left out by the voting that determines the starters (50 percent fan voting, 25 percent media voting and 25 percent player voting), here’s a look at who did make the cut.

Western Conference Starters

  • Stephen Curry, Warriors
  • Luka Doncic, Mavericks
  • LeBron James, Lakers
  • Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
  • Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Eastern Conference Starters

Breaking Down the Western Conference

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Here are your 2021 West starters #NBAAllStar https://t.co/y6rPGjgwpe

There is one surprise here among a seemingly predictable starting five.

One of those starting spots was a toss-up between Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard, and both are deserving. 

Voters were able to overlook the less-than-stellar record of Doncic and the 13-15 Dallas Mavericks, instead choosing to focus on his 29.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.4 assists per game. 

Projected West Reserves

  • Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
  • Anthony Davis, Lakers
  • Rudy Gobert, Jazz
  • Paul George, Clippers 
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz 

Snubs: Chris Paul, Christian Wood, Zion Williamson

Naturally, the inclusion of Doncic meant the loss of Lillard as a starter in what might be the biggest snub on this year’s roster. According to Orlando Sanchez of KGW-TV, the pair were tied at the end of the voting period, and the tiebreaker came down to fan voting, where Doncic had the edge. 

The Trail Blazers have been marred by injuries to Lillard’s sidekicks, with CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic sidelined for significant portions of their 18-10 campaign. Lillard’s 29.8 points and 7.7 assists per game stand out, but perhaps voters thought his numbers were only sky-high because of these absences. 

He’ll likely make the cut as a reserve.

Wood was on his way to earning a spot among the league’s top players when he emerged as the face of the new-look Rockets at the start of the season, amassing 22.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in 17 games before an ankle sprain took him out and sent the Rockets plummeting. They’re in the midst of a seven-game losing streak without him. 

Paul has helped Phoenix keep its bubble run alive in the 2020-21 season, with 17.2 points and 8.2 assists per game. But there’s just no room for him at the top of a loaded Western Conference roster, considering two deserving players from the West’s most dominant team couldn’t even lock in a starting spot. The same is true for Williamson.

Breaking Down the Eastern Conference

You could just as easily have three Nets players among the starting five for the East, but in the interest of spreading the wealth and allowing more teams in on the fun, just Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will represent the group as starters.

So will a two-time MVP in Antetokoumpo.

Ultimately, there are few surprises on the East roster, but there’s plenty up for debate among who might be named to—or miss out on—the reserves. 

Projected East Reserves

  • James Harden, Nets
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics
  • Khris Middleton, Bucks
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics
  • Bam Adebayo, Heat

Snubs: Gordon Hayward, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic

With three possible players to represent the Eastern Conference at center, Vucevic suffered from Orlando’s miserable start to the season that likely caused him to get overlooked. It’s an opposite situation for Hayward, but he simply can’t stand up to some of the names on this list.

Butler’s situation might be different if he had been able to play for most of the month of January, but he missed three weeks because of the league’s health and safety protocols

The teams will be fully set come March 4, when the All-Star Draft will be held. 

The NBA All-Star Game, three-point competition, skills challenge and dunk contest are all slated for March 7 in Atlanta. 

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