The NBA announced its 2021 All-Star starters Thursday night. As always, this stirred up uproar between the media and fans of who is worthy and unworthy of being a starter.
This years’ starters consist of both All-Star Game veterans as well as a few fresh faces. Out of the bunch, which players rightfully deserve their spots? And which players were wrongfully not considered? Check out the lock-ins and snubs from the 2021 All-Star starter selections below.
NBA 2021 All-Star Starters: Lock-Ins and Snubs
Eastern Conference Lock-Ins
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid is playing with more confidence and poise than ever before to help the Philadelphia 76ers sit comfortably at the No.1 spot in the East. The three-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 30.5 points along with 11 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He is shooting a career-best 54 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. His shooting has played a factor in Philadelphia ranking seventh in field goal percentage. He also has the third-best player efficiency rating in the league at 34. Playing under new coach Doc Rivers, Embiid is working his way t0 becoming a leader and a dominant force on both sides of the ball.
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Coming into this season off an Achilles injury, there was some concern about how Kevin Durant would perform. Would his play be enough to take the Brooklyn Nets to the next level? Fortunately, Durant has been playing extremely well for Brooklyn, averaging 29 points off 52 percent from the field, as well as shooting a career-best 43 percent from three. In his first ten games of the season, Durant averaged 30.7 points, shooting 54 percent from the field and 49 percent from three. This helped jumped the Nets to first in points per game, offense rating, field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage.
NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Starters Snubs
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Ever since signing his $115 million contract extension in 2019, Jaylen Brown has tremendously improved his game on both sides of the ball. He’s clearly a reliable option behind Jayson Tatum for the Boston Celtics. This season, Brown is averaging 25 points while shooting 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.
Brown’s proving to be a great force of his own offensively, as almost half of his shots are unassisted. The majority of these shots are also inside the arc. Simply put, he’s making efforts at attacking the basket more.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Zach LaVine is having a much stronger campaign this season for the Chicago Bulls, further molding himself into superstar status.
LaVine has recorded fifteen 30-plus point games this season (third-best among players). He also averaged 31 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in the Bulls’ last 10 games.
Another way that LaVine has been dominant this season is his clutch percentage. Based on his field goal percentage, 51 percent of it is clutch. The biggest highlight? LaVine made a step-back three to help the Bulls win in overtime against the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 15.
Western Conference Lock-Ins
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic is the first Denver Nuggets player since Carmelo Anthony (2010-11 season) to become an NBA All-Star starter. He is also continuing to elevate his game as a big man offensively and defensively. On top of averaging 27 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists (all career-highs), he leads the league with seven triple-doubles. When Jokic is on the floor, the Nuggets offense runs smoothly, and his offense this season has been the most valuable. Jokic leads the league in the overall box plus/minus (11.6) and offensive plus/minus (9.1), which are both measures of a player’s contribution to its team per 100 possessions.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry was heavily criticized this year after the Golden State Warriors got off to a slow start. Critics feared he could no longer carry a team and even called him washed up. Well, Curry has silenced his haters and put this Golden State team on his shoulders.
Curry has 14 games with 30-plus points this season, which is fourth-best behind Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and LaVine. He’s also been on a historic run the last 10 games as he’s averaging 34.6 points and shooting 51 percent from the field. He’s the first guard since Michael Jordan in 1995 to score 25-plus points a game with 50-plus percent shooting in a 10-game stretch. The Warriors went from nearly the bottom of the West to now eighth. Curry has his squad fighting for a solid spot in the playoffs.
NBA Western Conference All-Star Starters Snubs
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers
Fan votes helped push Luka Doncic to be a starter over Lillard. Still, the Portland Trail Blazers’ superstar had the second most player votes and media votes for good reason.
No one has been more clutch than Lillard this season. The point guard is leading the league in clutch points, field goal percentage (63.2 percent), three-point percentage (58.8 percentage), and free throw percentage (100 percent). Dame’s clutch performance has been significant in the absence of CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, as the Trail Blazers are currently fourth in the West, winning eight of their last 10 games.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are the best team in the NBA with a 24-6 record. Donovan Mitchell is a huge part of that success. Mitchell is shooting a career-high 38 percent from the field, which is a factor in the Jazz leading the league in three-pointers made. Mitchell leads the Jazz in scoring (24.4 points) and has made some improvements in both his shooting and passing. He’s averaging a career-high 5.1 assists including two outings with 11 assists.
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