NBA All-Star Game 2021 Rosters: Eligible Starters, Reserves and Analysis

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks are seen during the second half of the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Huh)
Nam Huh/Associated Press

The player pool for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game is set.

Now, it's on captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant to assemble the rosters ahead of the world's greatest pickup game, slated for Sunday, Mar. 7 at Atlanta's State Farm Arena.

James and Durant will make their picks during Thursday's All-Star Draft at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.

After laying out the lists of eligible starters and reserves, we'll delve into the decision-making process awaiting the two captains and examine different strategies for roster construction.


2021 NBA All-Star Starters and Reserves

Eastern Conference


Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics (replacement starter for Durant)


Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

James Harden, Brooklyn Nets

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers (injury replacement for Durant)

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic


Western Conference


Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers


Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns (injury replacement for Anthony Davis)

Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans


All-Star Draft Analysis

For the first time since the Association switched to the playground-style draft, a captain will not be participating in the actual event.

Durant hasn't suited up since Feb. 13 due to a nagging hamstring injury. While the ailment will sideline him for the contest, he'll still be responsible for drafting Team Durant.

Both Durant and James will make their selections first from the pool of starters and then the remaining reserves. James will once again have the first pick by virtue of receiving the most fan votes in the league.

So, how should the captains go about making their picks? Well, that all depends on their primary motivation.

If it's winning above all else, then it's simple: draft the best player available with a slight focus on roster construction. That latter part just means avoid redundancies—which, admittedly, aren't many in this increasingly position-less game. But it does mean probably avoid doubling down at the center spot in the opening group and pay mind to potential spacing concerns from not having enough shooting.

But what if the All-Stars give a nod to presenting the best show possible? This is an entertainment spectacle after all, so maybe it'd be better to lean into those funky lineup constructions of rolling with three centers together or the kind of super-small-ball looks often reserved for Space City.

It could also put a premium on players with aesthetically pleasing styles of play. All due respect to the post work and pick-and-pop prowess of Vucevic, the genius-level passing from Jokic out of the high post and the fiery mid-range touch of Randle, but those aren't exactly the biggest needle-movers for casual fans.

They want yo-yo handles, like the kind Curry and Irving possess. They want limitless shooting range, like Curry and Lillard provide. They want ferocious above-the-rim finishes, like Williamson and LaVine deliver on a nightly basis.

With the league again utilizing the Final Target score ending, James and Durant might want to have some crunch-time closers on their rosters, too. That should give a boost to Portland's finest, since clutch situations are often measured in Dame Time. It could also prop up LaVine (the league's leader in clutch points) and Harden (and his absurd 54.8/53.8/92.9 clutch shooting slash).

There are plenty of things for James and Durant to ponder between now and draft time, but maybe the best piece of advice is this: When building a roster constructed entirely with All-Star talent, there may not be a wrong way to do it.