The starters for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game have been announced, led by captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant for the second consecutive year.
James was leading the fan vote during the last update on Jan. 20 with 6.8 million votes. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar is a starter for the 18th consecutive year. He has been a team captain every year since the NBA adopted the current All-Star format in 2018.
Durant was able to maintain his spot as the top vote-getter on the fan ballot in the Eastern Conference, despite not being able to play in a game since Jan. 15 due to a sprained MCL. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported the Brooklyn Nets star won't play in the NBA's midseason game.
This will mark the second straight year that Durant has been voted as a captain but won't play in the All-Star Game. He sat out the 2021 event in Atlanta because of an ankle injury.
With James and Durant set to captain their respective teams, here are the rest of the starters that they will build their rosters from during the All-Star draft.
Western Conference All-Star Starters
Frontcourt: LeBron James (Lakers), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andrew Wiggins (Warriors)
Guards: Stephen Curry (Warriors), Ja Morant (Grizzlies)
Eastern Conference All-Star Starters
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Nets), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Joel Embiid (76ers)
Guards: DeMar DeRozan (Bulls), Trae Young (Hawks)
The frontcourt talent from both conferences is absolutely loaded. The Western Conference has James and reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic at the top right now.
James has been doing everything in his power to keep the Lakers afloat amid their struggles and injuries. The three-time All-Star Game MVP is averaging 32.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists with a 54.1 field-goal percentage in 18 games since Dec. 19.
Speaking of nearly single-handedly keeping a team afloat because of injuries, Jokic has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Denver Nuggets in the first half this season. The 26-year-old is making his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance thanks to ranking seventh in scoring average (26.2), second in rebounding (13.8) and ninth in assists (7.6).
Joel Rush @JoelRushNBA
Nikola Jokic lead the league (among many stats) in Box Plus Minus (BPM) at 14.1.<br><br>Giannis is 2nd at 10.4, a gap between the two of 3.7.<br><br>To bridge that same 3.7 gap, you have to go down to Ja at 8th w/ 5.8, after going through Embiid 8.9, LBJ 8.2, Butler 7.8, KD 7.3, Steph 6.8. <a href="https://t.co/wvp7qxZf6h">pic.twitter.com/wvp7qxZf6h</a>
The Nuggets (26-21) are still sixth in the Western Conference despite Michael Porter Jr. only playing nine games and Jamal Murray still out rehabbing his torn ACL.
Andrew Wiggins, now in his eighth season, is an All-Star for the first time. He has been instrumental in Golden State's 35-13 start. The 26-year-old is shooting a career-high 40.4 percent from three-point range and averaging 18.1 points per game.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Wiggins has had quite the career turnaround since being acquired by the Warriors in February 2020. He has been an essential part of their defense over the past two seasons, in addition to being a more efficient offensive player.
Since Durant likely won't be available to play, the top two Eastern Conference frontcourt All-Stars are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.
Antetokounmpo is playing better this season than when he led the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA title in 2020-21. He is averaging a career-high 6.0 assists per game, along with 28.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per contest.
Embiid is arguably the MVP favorite this season and the best big man in the Eastern Conference right now. He ranks second in the NBA in ESPN's player efficiency rating (31.75) and has scored at least 30 points in 14 of his last 15 games.
The starting guards in the Western Conference appear to have a clear edge over their Eastern Conference counterparts.
Stephen Curry has tailed off a bit since a red-hot start to the season, but he's still averaging 25.8 points per game in 44 starts. He leads the league in three-pointers made (209) and attempted (560).
This will be Curry's eighth career All-Star appearance. The Golden State Warriors guard has started the game each time he's been selected.
Joining Curry as the West's other backcourt starter is Ja Morant, whose breakout season landed him his first All-Star selection. He has led the Memphis Grizzlies to third in the Western Conference standings with a 33-17 record.
Morant is on pace to average career highs in scoring (25.8 points per game), rebounding (5.9), field-goal percentage (48.9) and three-point percentage (35.8). He has also been a human highlight reel on both ends of the court.
Morant is the fourth player in Grizzlies history named to the All-Star team and first since Marc Gasol in 2016-17.
DeMar DeRozan has proved all of his doubters wrong with his dazzling play for the Chicago Bulls this season. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring average (26.4 points per game) and is shooting 49.7 percent from the field on 19.1 attempts per contest.
This will be DeRozan's fifth career All-Star appearance but his first since 2018 when he was in his final season with the Toronto Raptors.
Regardless of what position he has played, DeRozan has undoubtedly performed like one of the league's best players and is a deserving All-Star starter.
Trae Young returns to the All-Star team for the second time in three seasons. The Atlanta Hawks point guard remains one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NBA. He ranks fifth in the league with 27.7 points per game, third in assists (9.3) and is shooting a career-high 38.0 percent from behind the arc.
The All-Star draft will take place Feb. 10. The 2022 All-Star Game will be held at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland on Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. ET.