The NBA All-Star game is on.
The Utah Jazz’s wait for All-Star selections, meanwhile, simply goes on.
The NBA on Thursday made official its plans to hold an All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta. That night, the league announced the Western and Eastern conferences All-Star starters on Thursday night — an announcement that left Jazz fans wanting.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, by virtue of leading his squad to the best record in the West, is set to coach the conference’s All-Star squad. But it remains to be seen which of Snyder’s players will be joining the coach in Atlanta.
The West’s starters are LeBron James (captain), Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic.
The East’s starters are Kevin Durant (captain), Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley said Thursday he believed Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell should have been among the starters.
“Donovan Mitchell should be rewarded in my opinion,” he said. “No disrespect to anyone. But this kid has been the best player on the best team in the NBA, and it’s unfortunate he’s not starting.”
Chuck believes Dame and Donovan Mitchell should’ve been West starters
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 19, 2021
Jazz fans will hope to hear multiple names from their team called when the Western Conference reserves are announced. Mitchell, an All-Star a season ago, leads the first-place Jazz in scoring at 24.2 points per game (No. 17 overall in the NBA). Rudy Gobert, also an All-Star last year, is averaging 14.2 points, 13.4 rebounds, 2.7 blocks as the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. And veteran point guard Mike Conley, who many believe is the league’s best point guard to have never been selected for an All-Star game, has a league best Net Rating of 17.7 while putting up 14.9 points and 5.7 assists per night.
The All-Star starters were determined by fan, media and player voting.
Mitchell’s weighted score was fourth-highest among Western Conference guards. He received 741,272 fan votes, 10 media votes, and was ranked fifth by the players.
Conley had the 14th-highest weighted score.
In the front court, Gobert had the ninth-highest score after receiving 388,106 fan votes, five media votes and a No. 7 player ranking.
This year’s All-Star weekend will be condensed into a single night with the Skills Challenge and 3-point Contest taking place before the All-Star game. The Dunk Contest is set to take place at halftime.
“NBA All-Star in Atlanta will continue our annual tradition of celebrating the game and the greatest players in the world before a global audience,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
The All-Star rosters will be set through a draft format in which team captains will select from a pool of starters and reserves.
The league announced it will establish additional health and safety protocols, essentially creating a “mini bubble” in Atlanta, through private travel arrangements, a single hotel for players and coaches and enhanced testing.
As part of this year’s event, the NBA and the Players Association will commit more than $2.5 million in funds toward Historically Black Colleges and Universities and support awareness around equity and access to Covid-19 care, relief and vaccines.
“HBCUs provided premium education to our communities at a time when access to higher learning was denied to us. They were there – and have remained there – for us. We now stand with them,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said.
TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage will begin at 3 p.m. MT on March 7. The Skills and 3-Point contests start at 4:30 p.m. The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will then tip off at 6 p.m. The game will follow the same format as last year, with the teams competing to win each quarter and playing to a Final Target Score during the untimed fourth quarter.