CHARLOTTE – Former Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook heads the list of reserves announced for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game. The Oklahoma City Thunder guard, the All-Star Game MVP in both 2015 and 2016 and the league MVP in 2016-17, received his eighth All-Star selection.
Other reserves include four first-time All-Stars: Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, the reigning Rookie of the Year; Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton.
Seven reserves were selected from each conference, joining the 10 starters who were announced last week. However, the game won’t feature a showdown between the East and the West. Instead, sides will be selected by captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, the top Western Conference vote-getter, and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, the top Eastern Conference vote-getter.
On Feb. 7, the teams will be determined in a two-round draft. James will have the first pick of the starters, with he and Antetokounmpo then alternating selections through the eight options. The second round will feature the selection of the reserves, with Antetokounmpo picking first.
One All-Star who won’t be among those drafted is Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, who underwent surgery Monday to repair a torn right quadriceps tendon. Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell was selected as his replacement.
“I just want to thank the players, coaches, fans and media for voting for me, it’s most appreciated,” Oladipo said in a statement released by the Pacers. “I am honestly speechless just knowing I have the support of my peers, people I look up to and admire, as well as the fans. All I can say is thank you and I am working on coming back stronger not just physically, but mentally as well.”
The defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors will have three All-Stars, with reserve Klay Thompson joining starters Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.
With Middleton joining Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee has multiple All-Stars for the first time since Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson were selected in 2001.
Later Thursday, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer clinched the role as coach of Team Giannis when Milwaukee beat the Toronto Raptors 105-92. Milwaukee (37-13) is now assured of having the Eastern Conference’s best record through Sunday, which is the deadline for determining which coaches will lead the All-Star teams by virtue of leading their conference’s top squads.
Budenholzer was an All-Star coach in 2015 when he was in charge of the Atlanta Hawks.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s selection as a reserve extends San Antonio’s streak of having at least one All-Star to 21 years in a row, the NBA’s longest active run.
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was selected to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game, tying the longest streak ever by a player who never was an All-Star in his first eight seasons. Chauncey Billups previously accomplished the feat.
The All-Star Game will be played Feb. 17 in Charlotte.
EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR RESERVES
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (2nd All-Star selection); Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (6th); Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (5th); Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (1st); Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (2nd); Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (1st);Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (1st).
WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR RESERVES
San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (7th); New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, (6th); Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (1st); Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, (4th); Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, (5th); Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns (2nd); Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (8th)
EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS
Captain: Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (3rd); Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (3rd); Philadelphia 76ers forward/center Joel Embiid (2nd); Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (6th); Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (3rd).
WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR STARTERS
Captain: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (15th); Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (6th); Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (10th); Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (6th); Houston Rockets guard James Harden (7th).
–Field Level Media