Yesterday, NBA coaches named the 2021 All-Star reserves and leading the list were Nets guard James Harden and Suns guard Chris Paul. The 70th annual All-Star game is set to be played on March 7th in Atlanta at the State Farm Arena. Coverage will begin at 5 P.M. EST and the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and MTN DEW 3-point competition will begin at 6:30 P.M. The actual game begins at 8 and half-time will consist of the AT&T Slam Dunk.
Reserves other than Harden selected from the eastern conference include Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Chicago’s Zach LaVine, Knicks player Julios Randle, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, and Orlando’s Nikola Vučević. From the West with Chris Paul will be LA Laker Anthony Davis, LA Clipper Paul George, Utah’s Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Portland’s Damian Lillard, and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson. Only Brown, LaVine, Randle, and Williamson have never before been an All-Star reserve, while Harden and Paul have been selected 9 and 11 years, respectively.
To select the pool of players, NBA head coaches each get to vote for seven players in their conference: two guards, three frontcourt players, and two players from any position. The coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The rosters for the two teams will then be selected by All-Star team captains Kevin Durant and Lebron James in a draft that will air on March 4th at 8 P.M. EST.
The team captains will build the 12 -player roster without regarding the player’s conference of position and will select from the group of eight starters (not including captains) in the first round. Starters other than Durant and Lebron include Nets player Kyrie Irving, Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wizards player Bradley Beal, 76ers player Joel Embiid, Warriors player Steph Curry, Mavericks player Like Dončić, Nuggets player Nikola Jokić, and Clippers player Kawhi Leonard. Then, the captains in the second round will pick from the pool of reserves. In a fan vote, James was selected to have the first pick of the starters, while Durant will have the first pick in the second round. Selected to coach the teams were Philadelphia Head Coach Doc Rivers, who will lead Team Durant, and Utah Head Coach Quin Snyder for Team LeBron.
Some fans and commentators reported that they find the selection of reserves to be a “snub” to many deserving players and criticized the criteria in which players are chosen. A CBS sports contributor specifically spoke of Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz who has been scoring at increasingly high rates and Khris Middleton from Utah who has been playing extremely well individually, but whose team maybe didn’t hit the mark. “There’s always some deserving players that don’t make the cut, but especially this year,” CBS writes. Draymond Green criticized the All-Star game voting process, saying that the things that matter to the league favor making offensive players look better, saying “if it was about my criteria it would be different. This whole league would be different.”