The NBA today announced the seven reserves from the Eastern and Western Conference ahead of the 2021 All-Star Draft.
With only 12 roster spots available, including the starters, competition for spots is as tight as ever, with several players sure to be feeling as though they'd done enough through the first 30-odd games of the season to earn their place in Atlanta.
The starters are determined by a combination of fan, player, and media voting, with the reserves selected by the league's head coaches. Of those reserves, four players will be making their All-Star debuts, including Zion Williamson, Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle and Zach LaVine.
With enough talent to field a third All-Star team, such is the depth of talent around the league, let's take a look at the players who were most deserving on the outside looking in.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
After making his All-Star debut last season, Booker made a strong case to be among the reserves, with the Phoenix Suns flying high in the top four of the Western Conference.
Booker's numbers have only dropped marginally on last season, averaging 24.7 points on 50.1 percent shooting and 38.1 percent from the 3-point line. Ultimately the Suns were only going to have one All-Star with point guard Chris Paul getting the nod over his backcourt mate.
If there's an injury replacement, Booker is my pick to hear his name called first.
Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that.- LeBron James (@KingJames) February 24, 2021
Mike Conley Jr. Utah Jazz
The Jazz have been on fire to start the season, cruising to a league-best 25-6 record, so giving them three All-Star spots wasn't out of the question.
Their 21 double-digit wins are tied for the most through 31 games with the 2008 Boston Celtics and with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell named to the reserves, Conley had a solid case to join them.
The veteran is averaging 16.4 points and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range and is having as big an impact on winning as anyone, second only to Gobert in +/- among players to have played a minimum of 15 games. At 33 years old, this could have perhaps been his last shot at making the All-Star game.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
DeRozan, a four-time All-Star, looks to have found his role as the veteran leader of the Spurs' young brigade.
Sitting at 16-11 on the season, good for sixth in the West, DeRozan has the Spurs way ahead of pre-season expectations, and he's doing it as their leading scorer and playmaker, averaging 19.8 points and 6.9 assists, while ranking 12th in the league in clutch scoring.
- De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
- Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
- Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
- Christian Wood, Houston Rockets.
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder
- CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
Sabonis was an All-Star last season and is playing even better this season, putting up 21.5 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game for the Pacers who sit fourth in the East.
The 24-year-old has take a big leap shooting the 3 this season, connecting on 35.6 percent of his threes on 2.8 attempts per game and has recorded three triple-doubles, making that seven in a Pacer uniform - the most in franchise history.
With his numbers and team success, his All-Star case is as strong as anyones.
Domantas Sabonis is the first player in NBA history to average 20/10/5 and not make the All-Star team.- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 24, 2021
(Submitted by @Hoop_statistics) pic.twitter.com/3xFv6zi8QB
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
Much like CJ McCollum in the West, injuries/games played isn't working in Butler's favour after the five-time All-Star was forced to miss three weeks of the season due to health and safety protocols.
In the 19 games he has played, he's averaged 19.1 points, 7.6 assists 7.6 rebounds and has four triple-doubles, the fifth-most in the league this season.
Jimmy Butler records a triple-double for the third straight night.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 19, 2021
He was already the first player in Heat history with back-to-back triple-doubles.
It's Butler's 4th triple-double this month, more than he ever had in an entire season before 2020-21. pic.twitter.com/sb1LHgKRji
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
An All-Star starter last season, to out of the game altogether is a tough one for Trae Young, who is likely more of a victim of the increase in talent in the Eastern Conference this season.
The 22-year-old is putting up All-Star numbers of 27 points, good for eighth in the league and 9.5 assists per game, good for third in the league, but the Hawks remain outside the playoff picture and with the East now loaded with high-level guards, wins matter this season.
Despite that...between the logo threes, nutmegs and flashy dimes, Young is exactly the type of player you want to watch in the All-Star game.
Trae Young is the first player in 30 years to average 25+ points and 9+ assists in a season and not make the All-Star team.- StatMuse (@statmuse) February 24, 2021
(Submitted by @KevinKeneely1) pic.twitter.com/4safI573LB
- Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
- Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
- Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
- Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
- Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards
- Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat
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