NBA all-star game breakdown: starters, reserves and snubs


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Dani Heba, Sports Editor

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game starters and reserves have been announced and, like always, fans have some critical opinions of the selections but before getting into who’ll be playing in the game and who won’t be, many fans are wondering about the  format.

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will carry the same format as the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

Team LeBron and Team Durant will each pick a charity they want to donate to. At the beginning of the first three quarters, the score will be set to 0-0. The winner of each quarter will see money go to the beneficiaries they selected.

The fourth quarter will be untimed, and each team will play to a target score; the target score is determined by the leading team’s cumulative score, plus 24, in honor of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s jersey number. The first team to reach or pass the score will win the game.

Fans will be able to see captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant draft their teams on March 4 at 8 p.m. EST on TNT.

All-Star Weekend will take place on March 7, hosted on TNT. The Skills Challenge will begin first, at 5 p.m. EST, followed by the 3-Point Contest at 6:30 p.m. EST. The game will tip-off at 8 p.m. EST, with the Slam Dunk Contest taking place at halftime.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at who’s in and who got snubbed, starting with the Eastern Conference: 

The starters: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo of

the Milwaukee Bucks, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.

The reserves: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics, James Harden of the

Brooklyn Nets, Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls, Julius Randle of the New York Knicks, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic and Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers.


The starters of the East are nearly perfect. All five men are playing some of the best basketball of their careers, especially Joel Embiid, who is a front runner for this year’s Most Valuable Player award. However, some fans and NBA insiders feel that James Harden should have been voted in as a starter.

“James Harden is playing better than anyone in the league right now” tweeted NBA legend and ESPN NBA analyst Paul Pierce on Feb. 24.

According to ESPN, Harden is averaging 25.2 points per game, 8.5 rebounds per game, and 11.6 assists per game, with a  49.5% field goal percentage and a 41.7% three-point percentage. All career highs for Harden, with the exception of his points per game numbers.

Now let’s talk about the snubs. Here are five players who didn’t make the game but should have been selected:

Trae Young: The Atlanta Hawks point guard has simply been playing great basketball. With All-Star Weekend taking place in Atlanta, this snub becomes an even greater gesture of disrespect. According to ESPN, Young is putting up 26.8 PPG, 9.5 APG and 4.1 RPG so far this season. Jimmy Butler: Coming off a Finals run reminiscent to that of Allen Iverson’s in 2001, it comes as a surprise that the Miami star was not named to the game. Butler is averaging 20.1 PPG, 7.8 APG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 0.4 BPG, according to ESPN.

However, reports have surfaced that Butler was nominated as a replacement for the injured Durant, but declined, with the spot going to Sabonis instead.

“He wasn’t going unless Bam was going” Ethan J. Skolnick told Greg Sylvander on the “Five on the Floor” podcast, according to HeatNation.

Bam Adebayo: Coming off a breakout year, his first All-Star appearance, and a stellar playoff run in the 2019-20 season, Bam Adebayo has  continued  his excellent play this season. According to ESPN, Adebayo is averaging a career high 19.6 PPG, along with 9.6 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.0 BPG and 0.9 SPG.

Kyle Lowry: The beloved Raptors guard, known for taking hard hits during past All-Star games and playing his heart out, did not make the cut this season. The Villanova product is currently averaging 18.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, 5.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG and 0.2 BPG on efficient shooting; 46.6% from the field, 40.5% from the three and 86.3% from the charity stripe.

Fans will surely miss Lowry’s presence in the game. His iconic handling of opponents’ charges are second to none.

Russell Westbrook: The triple-double king himself, Westbrook is nearly averaging one once again, posting 19.7 PPG, 9.7 APG and 9.7 RPG on the 2020-21 campaign thus far. Fans will miss The Brodie’s athleticism and stellar All-Star Weekend play.

Now to the Western Conference.  

The starters: LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers.

The reserves: Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul George of the Los Angeles

Clippers, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers, Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans and Chris Paul and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns.


Fans were outraged when Devin Booker, the star from the Phoenix Suns, was nearly snubbed from the All-Star Game once again.

Booker, the youngest player in NBA history to score 70 points in a game, has long been a fanfavorite, but was nearly snubbed from the All-Star Game again. Due to an injured Anthony Davis, Booker will make his first all-star appearance.

Mike Conley: It’s crazy to think that throughout his 14-year career Conley has never been named an All-Star. Unsurprisingly, the Jazz point guard got snubbed again, despite averaging

16.2 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.5 SPG while leading the Utah Jazz to the NBA’s best record, according to ESPN.

DeMar DeRozan: DeRozan has been absolutely stellar for the Spurs this season, averaging 19.8 PPG, 6.9 APG and 5.0 RPG. His excellent play has led the Spurs to the No. 5 seed as of this writing, after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in 23 seasons last year.

Despite excellent play from the snubs this season, the 2021 All-Stars have all been playing great basketball this season. It would be hard to say which player each of the snubs would replace, given that there are so many deserving candidates.