It is getting close to that time of year again: the NBA All-Star Game. This mid-season showdown,which dates all the way back to 1951, features the best players of each conference and showcases 24 of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s biggest stars. And despite being an almost century-old routine, the only change to the competition was back in 2017, when the NBA commissioners decided to revamp the format of the game by adding the All-Stars Draft and changing the East versus West teams to teams named after the captains. The new changes also gave players and media the ability to add their votes to the All-Stars (before this, the selections were entirely fan-based), and the All-Star Draft allowed for the mixing of players between conferences. These led to a renewed excitement and intensity of competition. Other than that, it is still the familiar game that we all love to see: an exciting and competitive match among some of the all-time greats.
The NBA announced last Thursday, Jan. 27, that the results for the 2022 All-Star Game have been confirmed. The game will be on Sunday, Feb. 20, in Cleveland, and the All-Star Draft Show will go live on Thursday, Feb. 10. And this year, fans will be able to attend the event, as opposed to the TV-only from last year, and the game will bring new excitement and intensity as new faces join the existing roster. Now, let’s take a look at the starters of each conference:
Lebron James, Captain and Starter:
Widely regarded as one of the NBA’s greatest players, James, who began his NBA career back in 2003, has been chosen as an All-Star for the 18th straight year. Tying with Kobe Bryant for the most consecutive selections to the All-Stars, and one away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s most All-Star selections of 19. He was selected as an All-Star back in 2005 and immediately earned an All-Star MVP the following year. This year also marks his fifth consecutive game as an All-Star captain, and he has won all of them up till now. We will have to see if he can continue his reign this year, or if he will finally lose this year to the new additions.
Nikola Jokic, Starter:
As the reigning Kia MVP from last year, Jokic “The Joker” is the first Center to earn the award in 20 years: the previous being Shaquille O’Neal back in 2000. He is also one of only two players selected in the second round of the NBA draft to win the award. This year will be his fourth consecutive game as an All-Star starter, and it will be intriguing to see how he goes into the game as an MVP.
Andrew Wiggins, Starter:
Wiggins was drafted into the NBA back in 2014, selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers as their first draft pick. He then went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, along with being named to the All-Rookie First Team. This year will be his first time being selected to a part of the NBA All-Stars, and it will be a spectacle to see how he handles the stress of being a starter.
Stephen Curry, Starter:
As one of the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history, it is not surprising to see Curry as a starter yet again, selected as All-Star for the eighth consecutive time. A mere two months ago, he broke the NBA record for the most career 3-pointers with 3366, surpassing Ray Allen’s record of 2973. However, he seems to be in a shooting slump ever since breaking the record, averaging only 25.7 points per game right now, compared to his 2020 record of 32.0 points per game. It is unclear whether it was the stress that got to him or if it was due to some unknown injury that caused this shooting slump. All we know is that Curry will need to get back in his best form to perform well during the All-Star Game and the Championships.
Ja Morant, Starter:
Morant was the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2020. This year, he has helped the Grizzlies reach a surprising third place in the Western Conference, and has been rewarded for his efforts by being selected as an All-Star starter, joining Marc Gasol as the only Grizzlies player selected as All-Stars. This year marks his first time as an All-Star Starter, alongside Andrew Wiggins, and it will be very intriguing to see how they perform.
Kevin Durant, Captain and Starter:
Durant has been widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NBA history, along with James, and it is no surprise to see him at the All-Stars again for the twelfth consecutive year. And as the captain of last year’s Eastern Conference All-Star Team, despite losing to James’ team 150-170, it would be extremely exciting to see if he can make a comeback this year. However, Durant’s participation in the game is currently in doubt since he is suffering from a sprained ligament in his knee. Hopefully, he can still recover and make it to the All-Star game for an exciting match-up.
Joel Embiid, Starter:
“The Process” will be experiencing a return to the All-Star game after missing last year’s. Embiid was the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, even though multiple injuries plagued him and delayed his rookie season until 2016-2017, in which he was immediately named to the NBA All-Rookie First team despite playing only 31 games. This year is his fifth straight season being selected as an All-Star Starter and is the longest streak held by a 76ers player since Allen Iverson (2000-2006). As a promising pick, we will surely see some action from him once again.
Trae Young, Starter:
Young was drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, with a fifth pick by the Dallas Mavericks, though he was later traded to the Atlanta Hawks. Just one year after the draft, he was named to the All-Rookie First Team, along with the subsequent All-Stars team in 2020. This year will be his second year as an All-Star Starter, and we can look forward to his performance on game night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Starter:
The captain of the 2019 and 2020 All-Star Eastern Conference teams, Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo is an All-Star Starter once again, marking his sixth consecutive year. Drafted in 2013 and receiving the Most Improved Player Award in 2017, Antetokounmpo has won back-to-back NBA MVP Awards in 2019 and 2020 (alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Lebron James as the only players to achieve this) and a Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 (joining Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to earn both the MVP and Defensive Player Award in the same season). All of these achievements show just how amazing of a player he is, and we will have to see if he manages to earn the All-Star MVP once again, just like last year.
Demar Derozan, Starter:
Derozan was drafted in 2009, by the Toronto Raptors. Since then, he has gone on to be selected as a two-time All-NBA Team member and a five-time All-Star. He has also played for the United States National Team in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Right now, he is averaging 26.5 points, 5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, and it will be exciting to see if he can maintain his performance going into the All-Star Game.
This is the end of a report on the All-Star Game. What do you think about the Starter roster this year? Any bets on which team will win? I personally want to see Lebron James continue his undefeated reign in the All-Stars, though I would also like to see Durant win as well. Thanks for reading up to this point, and see you at the All-Stars.