Zion Williamson to Start for Joel Embiid on Team Durant in NBA All-Star Game

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2021

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) moves the ball up court in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Zion Williamson will replace Joel Embiid in the starting lineup for Team Durant in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.

The NBA confirmed the change after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news in the wake of Embiid and Ben Simmons being ruled out due to Health and Safety Protocols. The Sixers stars were in contact with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

None of the other players or coaches were affected because of the NBA's quarantine rules in Atlanta.

Doc Rivers, the coach for Team Durant, was responsible for picking Embiid's replacement.

Williamson is averaging 25.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season for the Pelicans, who are a disappointing 15-21 at the break. New Orleans has turned over the keys to the offense to Williamson over the last month, allowing him to flash additional playmaking skills in his second NBA season. That said, it will be hard to replace a player like Embiid, who is widely seen as the first-half MVP. 

Team Durant was already without its namesake, with KD being forced to sit out Sunday's game due to a hamstring injury. Williamson will be joined by Bradley Beal, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum.

Sunday's All-Star broadcast will feature the Skills and Three-Point competitions before the game, along with the dunk contest taking place at halftime.

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