Joining James on the list of Western Conference starter selections are: Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.
Durant is joined by the following Eastern Conference starter selections: Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Nets guard Kyrie Irving.
The all-star starters were selected by a weighted group process that included the fan vote (50%), a media vote (25%) and a player vote (25%). All-star reserves from both conferences will be selected by a vote of the coaches and announced Tuesday. Once the full rosters are set, James and Durant will draft their rosters from the mixed pool of players, with each captain selecting four other starters and seven reserves regardless of conference affiliation.
This year’s starting lineups showed considerable turnover, with only five returning players. In the East, 2020 starters Kemba Walker, Trae Young and Pascal Siakam were all left off this year. In the West, Anthony Davis barely missed, while James Harden wasn’t selected as a starter after moving to the East due to a midseason trade from the Houston Rockets to the Nets. Doncic and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard tied for the West’s final starting spot, with Doncic winning the tiebreaker by drawing more fan votes.
The All-Star Game is set for March 7 at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena after the original plans for All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis were scrapped before the season due to the ongoing pandemic. Before the All-Star Game, the NBA will host the Skills Challenge and Three-Point Contest. During halftime, the NBA will conduct its annual Slam Dunk Contest. This year’s All-Star Game will also utilize the “Elam Ending,” which provides a “target score” during an untimed fourth quarter.
Several top players have expressed their concerns with holding the All-Star Game during the pandemic. James said that it felt like a “slap in the face” to hold an exhibition with little warning to players who believed they were getting a five-day break. Antetokounmpo and Harden said that they would rather spend the time with their families, and Leonard argued that the NBA was “putting money over health.” Meanwhile, Durant tweeted his frustration with the league’s contact tracing policy, which has sidelined him twice this season.