The NBA has revealed its 2021 All-Star Game starters, a tally that includes one first-timer. Here are those names:
After missing all of the 2019-20 season while he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Nets forward Kevin Durant is making his triumphant return to the All-Star Game. In his first appearance as a Brooklyn player, the 11-time All-Star will captain a team, having led the Eastern Conference in fan votes. Bradley Beal will be making his first All-Star start, after playing as a reserve in the 2018 and 2019 All-Star contests. Brown, the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft, is making his All-Star debut.
Lakers forward LeBron James, who was the top vote-getter in the Western Conference and the entire NBA, will again be a team captain. Jokic, an early top MVP contender along with James and Joel Embiid, will earn his first All-Star start. James will be suiting up for his 17th All-Star appearance, which moves him into a solo third place all-time behind only fellow Laker legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19 appearances) and Kobe Bryant (18). James was previously tied for making the third-most cumulative All-Star contests alongside Hall of Fame Nets and Sixers wing Julius Erving, who was selected into five ABA All-Star games and 11 NBA All-Star games.
Doncic barely edged out Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard to be the second All-Star guard next to Curry among the starters, per Chris Hayes of Yahoo Sports. Despite extended absences from starters CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and Zach Collins, the Trail Blazers boast an 18-10 record, good for the No. 4 seed in the crowded West, largely thanks to Lillard. The Mavericks, meanwhile, are 13-15, the No. 10 seed in the West, with a relatively healthier roster — but big man Kristaps Porzingis missed the first 11 games of the season.
As was the case during the last two years, the top vote-getters of each conference will captain a team, and will be able to draft players from either conference. The “Elam Ending,” which made the conclusion of last year’s game much more entertaining than it had been in recent years, is set to return again this year.
Earlier on Thursday, the league officially announced that the 2021 All-Star Game is set to take place at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, as a one-night event on March 7. The evening will also include its three All-Star weekend mainstay events: the Skills Competition, the Three-Point Contest and the Dunk Contest.