Just like old times, it will be LeBron James leading his team
into battle at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. But on Feb. 20 — just
like last season — he’ll be doing it as a captain for the 2022 NBA
For a change, though, James is joined in the league’s top class
by two first-time All-Stars: Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies and
Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors.
On Thursday night, the league announced that for the second
consecutive year, James and Kevin Durant were voted as captains of
the league’s midseason classic.
Along with Morant and Wiggins, James will be joined by the
league’s reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic, as well as Wiggins’
teammate, Stephen Curry. Out East, Durant will be joined by Joel
Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young and DeMar DeRozan as
Team LeBron and Team Durant will draft their respective teams on
Feb. 10, one week after the All-Star reserves are announced.
The 2022 NBA All-Star Game will be the league’s 71st in history,
and will continue one of the game’s great traditions as the
league’s top stars will convene in Cleveland for the exhibition.
Occurring during the league’s 75th anniversary season, All-Star
Weekend is certain to be memorable, and that will especially be
true for Morant and Wiggins, each of whom beat out established
stars en route to making the first All-Star appearance of their
For Morant specifically, he has put together an impressive
2021-22 season to the point where he managed to unseat Luka Doncic,
who joined Curry as the other backcourt starter from the Western
Conference last season.
Damian Lillard missing in action helped Morant’s cause as well,
but thanks to an incredible first-half of the season, Morant has
emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate and arguably deserves the
honor more than any other guard in the league.
It’s understandable to not necessarily feel the same way about
Wiggins, who finished third among the West’s frontcourt players,
narrowly edged out teammate Draymond Green for the honor, while
Paul George, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns finished fifth,
sixth and seventh, respectively. The Warriors have been one of the
league’s top teams so far this season, and Wiggins has played a key role.
Of that group, Towns has put together the most impressive
season; however, his Minnesota Timberwolves have hovered around
.500 for much of the campaign. Also, the Timberwolves don’t enjoy
the same level of popularity as the Warriors, as evidenced by the
fact that Wiggins received more than two times as many fan votes as
Towns (3.4 million to 1.6 million).
In the end, Wiggins finished third in the league’s weighted
voting system with a score of 4.25, narrowly edging Green for the
coveted third spot among the Western Conference’s front court
players. Green finished with a weighted score of 4.75. Wiggins
benefited greatly from the fan votes, as Green and Gobert had more
media votes and player votes than him.
Edging out Towns probably gives Wiggins special satisfaction
considering the Timberwolves traded Wiggins to the Warriors in
exchange for D’Angelo Russell in 2020. He also now has bragging
rights over Green.
The coaches from each conference will vote on the other 14
All-Stars, with each coach submitting a ballot consisting of two
guards, three frontcourt players and two “wildcard” players who can
be voted in regardless of their position.
Chris Paul and Devin Booker are bound to find themselves in the
conversation along the likes of Gobert, Towns and Doncic in the
From the Eastern Conference, James Harden, Zach LaVine, LaMelo
Ball, Darius Garland and Jayson Tatum will likely lead a crowded
class of overachievers who hope to share the honor.
If nothing else, what we have learned from Morant and Wiggins’
improbable rise to All-Star starters this season is that the
2021-22 season — one unlike any in the history of the NBA — has
created great opportunities for a wide variety of players.
As the league prepares for its midseason classic with hopes that
the worst of the ongoing pandemic is behind it, as fans, we can all
look toward Feb. 20 as an opportunity to simply enjoy the game,
even if some of the league’s more popular stars — Paul George,
Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, to name a few —
aren’t participating as they normally would.
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