The starters for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game were announced on Thursday night, and while no former Kentucky players made the cut, there are sure to be at least one or two Wildcats coming off the bench once the full rosters are completed.
Superstar names such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry were the usual suspects to take one of the 10 starting slots, joining first-time All-Star Bradley Beal along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, and Luka Doncic.
In terms of former ‘Cats making the roster, the final voting count saw Anthony Davis (LAL) miss the cut as a Western Conference starter just barely, as he came in fourth in regards to overall fan, media, and player voting. Despite his current calf injury, AD is still a good bet to make the reserves, even if his spot will ultimately be given away to someone else so he can stay home and rehab. Devin Booker (PHX) finished fifth among Western Conference guards while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC) came in eighth.
Even in a loaded Western Conference backcourt, I feel good about Booker making the cut with players such as Donovan Mitchell and Ja Morant as his biggest competition. SGA, on the other hand, has missed a few games recently and is on an Oklahoma City Thunder team with one of the worst records in the league. The NBA’s coaches will vote on which seven players from each conference will make up the finalized rosters. Gilgeous-Alexander might be a tougher sell to sneak in as opposed to Booker, who is on a thriving Suns team and playing great individual ball.
Western Conference All-Star voting breakdown, per the NBA: pic.twitter.com/3PbBuDU2tj
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) February 19, 2021
Over in the Eastern Conference, Bam Adebayo (MIA) and Julius Randle (NYK) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, among frontcourt players. It feels safe to say that Adebayo will sneak into the East’s top 12 players with Randle potentially ending up as one of the few odd men out.
Not long before the starters were announced, NBA commissioner Adam Silver confirmed earlier in the day that the 2021 All-Star Game would take place on March 7 down in Atlanta. The plan is to make it a one-day affair rather than the typical three-day weekend extravaganza, with the Dunk Contest taking place at halftime while the skills challenge and 3-point challenge will take place ahead of the 8 p.m. EST tipoff.
No fans will be in attendance, and Silver added on ESPN’s The Jump that he is enacting strict “no-partying” regulations for players coming to the city, which is something that could prove impossible to manage from outside the arena.
“We don’t want people to gather for events around this All-Star,” Silver said on The Jump. “There will be absolutely no social functions in Atlanta. No ticketed events. No parties. It is a made-for-television event at this point, and it’s largely in Atlanta because that’s where Turner Sports is located who will host this event … that’s why we are there, so we agree with the mayor.”
The commish said this likely knowing that celebratory All-Star parties are already being planned and could happen no matter what he enforces.
Adam Silver "There will be no parties"
Atlanta: Nearly 2 dozen "All-Star weekend" parties featuring Tory Lanez, Future, Boosie, etc are being promoted in Atlanta before NBA All-star game https://t.co/DiE3m5dFzp https://t.co/3VnNKP4unO pic.twitter.com/GvddnOWmGk
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 18, 2021
Regardless, the NBA plans on bringing back the “Elam Ending” for a second year, which forces the two teams to hit a target score in order to win instead of running out the clock. Team captains (the leading vote-getter from each conference: LeBron James and Kevin Durant in this instance) will draft who they want on their team once the pool of 22 All-Star selections has been finalized.