The NBA All-Star starters were announced the other day, as we got the names that will start in the showcase in Atalanta on March 7th, 2021. The East side is led by captain Kevin Durant, who is joined by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, and Bradley Beal. On the other side, the West is represented by captain LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, Stephen Curry, and Luka Doncic.
For the biggest part, everybody was satisfied with the picks, but the only decision that got some traction was Damian Lillard being snubbed in favor of Luka Doncic. Even though the media and players had Lillard ahead of Doncic, the fan vote was crucial, as it counted for half the points and was ultimately the key to Doncic starting.
The young Slovenian star was honored, but he still showed humbleness and respect for his rival:
“I didn’t expect that I was going to start this game. I know that maybe [Damian] Lillard deserved it more than me.”Luka Doncic, via Tim MacMahon
On the other side, “Dame” wasn’t getting too worried about it, as he just shrugged it off in his statement:
“When I was younger I cared a lot more. Obviously, that’s an accomplishment to be an All-Star starter. It’s something that I haven’t done, so of course, I would like to have been named the starter, but I honestly wasn’t surprised… That’s just what the reality is. I think for a lot of people who are saying [they are shocked by the result], they’ve taken notice of what I’ve done in the Bubble and what I’ve done this year.”Damian Lillard, via NBC Sports
When you compare the two players, you can see every player has their advantages. Doncic has been averaging 29.1 ppg, 9.4 APG, and 8.6 RPG, being a nightly triple-double threat. His most significant setback has been the fact that the Mavericks have been struggling this season, but you can’t put that on Luka’s back as he has done everything he can.
On the other side, Lillard has been tearing it up lately, stepping up majorly for the Blazers, carrying them during this time in which McCollum and Nurkic have been injured. He is averaging 30 ppg, 7.9 APG, and 4.5 RPG, with the Blazers having a very good record, a much better one than the Mavericks.
Both of them showed class and maturity in their statements, as in the end, it is really a matter of preferences and taste. In my opinion, you couldn’t go wrong with either one. I would even go out on a limb and say that the two should have started together instead of Stephen Curry, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter as they will play in the game at the end.