The 2014 NBA All-Star Game starting lineups have been unveiled, and while many of the usual suspects made the cut, there are a handful of fresh faces set to suit up for the East and West in this winter's highly anticipated exhibition showdown.
NBA fans will have to wait until Jan. 30 for the reserves to be announced, but for now there's more than enough to dissect with the starters learning their fate nearly a month in advance of the Feb. 16 event.
Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the starting lineups for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game and three players facing the most pressure to perform in New Orleans.
|Eastern Conference||Western Conference|
|Kyrie Irving, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers||Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors|
|Dwyane Wade, SG, Miami Heat||Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers|
|LeBron James, SF, Miami Heat||Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Paul George, SF, Indiana Pacers||Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers|
|Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks||Kevin Love, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves|
LeBron James, SF, East
There isn't a bigger superstar on the planet than LeBron James, and that means the King will be facing immense pressure to deliver for the East in New Orleans.
Most consecutive NBA All-Star selections- Kobe Bryant 16, LeBron James 10, Dwyane Wade 10— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 24, 2014
On top of the fact that the Eastern Conference has dropped two straight matchups with the Western Conference, LeBron hasn't come away with All-Star Game MVP honors since 2008. The good news for the two-time NBA Finals MVP is that the last time he was awarded the MVP, the All-Star Game was held in the Big Easy.
While there's no knocking LeBron's level of play in recent All-Star Games, there's also no denying that he'll be the center of attention this February.
But given what LeBron has done thus far in 2013-14, averaging 26 points, seven rebounds and more than six assists per game on 58 percent shooting from the floor, you've got to love his chances of exceeding the hype and taking home another trophy for his fast-growing collection.
Stephen Curry, PG, West
Golden State's Stephen Curry will make his All-Star Game debut in 2014, and the expectation is that he will take, and make, a ton of three-pointers.
After all, Curry's 128 three-pointers made (as of Jan. 23) rank third in the NBA behind only teammate Klay Thompson and Portland's Damian Lillard. While Curry's three-point percentage is below 43 percent for the first time in his professional career, his career highs in points (23.5) and assists (9.2) more than make up for his drop-off from deep.
You've got to love the way Curry's skill set translates to the fast up-and-down pace of an NBA All-Star Game, though. With tons of possessions being created and the potential for uncontested alley-oops, Curry has a shot to steal the show in New Orleans.
Paul George, SF, East
Although Paul George is set to make his second consecutive appearance in the NBA All-Star Game in 2014, he'll be making his first as a bona fide NBA superstar.
While Indiana Pacers fans have been aware of George's greatness for some time now, the small forward's brilliant play is still brand new to casual fans and those who choose to ignore smaller market teams. As a result, the 23-year-old will be facing pressure to live up to the hype generated by his stellar playoff run last spring and sensational start to 2013-14.
George talked about his selection and the exposure shortly after the roster announcement, per ESPN.com:
It means a lot because that means the fans are really watching us as a team. For us to have the No. 1 record in the league, and playing at a high level, I think the fans are starting to follow us as a whole and I think that's the biggest thing with me being a starter.
George is an absolute stud on both sides of the ball, but with sky-high expectations thanks to the Pacers' scorching-hot start this year, he'll have to deliver against the world's best players in order to legitimize his newfound stardom to a tough crowd.
It's a challenge George is unlikely to shy away from this February.
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