Joel Embiid was already the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Now, he’s got a teammate joining him in Chicago.
Ben Simmons was chosen to participate in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game as one of 14 reserve players for the Feb. 16 contest. The Sixers guard was locked out of the fan, player and media voting — and by an alarmingly healthy distance, in eighth place in fan voting — but the coaches rectified that slight on Thursday.
Simmons will join Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum and Domantas Sabonis as reserves for Team Giannis (Eastern Conference). Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was responsible for tweaking the final roster by vitue of Milwaukee’s conference-leading record.
Simmons is averaging 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game while ranking fourth in the NBA in triple-doubles with four. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Jan. 20.
On Wednesday, Sixers coach Brett Brown talked at length about why Simmons deserved an All-Star nod. This will mark his second straight selection after earning Rookie-of-the-Year honors for the 2017-18 season.
“To me, it’s one of those head-scratching, no brainers. He is a clear NBA All-Star,” Brown told reporters. “I can’t imagine Ben Simmons [being left out of All-Star Game]. I mean look at what Ben Simmons has done.”
The starting five for the East consists of Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker and Trae Young.
Tobias Harris Snubbed on East All-Star Team
Did Tobias Harris get snubbed from the All-Star game?
The Sixers small forward has been one of the team’s most reliable scorers this year. Harris is averaging 19.4 points per game while shooting 36-percent from three. Granted, he has disappeared in some clutch moments but he’s also been unstoppable at times.
Harris has four games of 30 points or more, including dropping a season-high 35 on Dec. 23 versus Detroit. He’s getting 21.6 points per game over his past three games. According to his coach, Harris has been one of the Sixers’ best players all year and should have been in the All-Star conversation.
“I think Tobias [Harris] — like really if our record was better, that probably would be a no-brainer, too,” Brett Brown said of Harris. “Look at the year he has had. He deserves to be talked about in this conversation.”
Team LeBron: Western Conference All-Star Team
On the other side of the court, Team LeBron (Western Conference) also filled out their squad on Thursday. It’s shaping up to be an evenly-matched game.
The starters were announced last week and include LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic and James Harden. Joining them on the roster will be Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell and Russell Westbrook. Those picks were chosen by Lakers head coach Frank Vogel who gets to coach the West by virtue of the Lakers’ conference-leading record.
Obviously, everything that happens in the NBA right now has been overshadowed by the death of Kobe Bryant. There will be a multi-faceted tribute to the Lakers legend at the All-Star Game, including a whole set of rule changes. Vogel put into words what Bryant meant to the league.
“He was the most feared man in the league for an entire generation,” Vogel said after practice, via SB Nation. “The influence is league-wide, basketball community-wide, Lakers family-wide and his influence will be felt forever.”