By Agence France-Presse
Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul and Houston’s Russell Westbrook, who were traded for each other in the offseason, highlight the reserves for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game next month in Chicago.
Paul will be making his 10th appearance and Westbrook his ninth as they are two of seven reserves added from the Western Conference, the league announced on Thursday.
They are joined by Portland’s Damian Lillard, who is making his fifth appearance, and Denver centre Nikola Jokic, who earned his second nod. New Orleans forward Brandon Ingram and Utah teammates Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, of France, will be making their all-star debuts.
Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons top the list of players chosen by the league’s coaches from the Eastern Conference.
Lowry is heading to the showcase for the sixth consecutive season.
The 33-year-old Lowry was one of seven Eastern Conference reserves named on Thursday for the February 16 game where he will join teammate Pascal Siakam who was selected as a starter last week.
Miami’s Jimmy Butler, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Miami’s Bam Adebayo and Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis were also picked from the East.
While the reserves included plenty of veteran talent, Mitchell, Gobert, Ingram, Adebayo, Tatum and Sabonis are all first-time selections.
Gobert becomes the third French player to make the All-Star game after Tony Parker and Joakim Noah. The reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year is in his seventh season.
Milwaukee’s reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James will captain the two teams for the mid-season exhibition.
On Thursday the NBA announced that a new format will be in place that will honor the jersey number 24 of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Under the first-time format, each quarter will be played as a “mini-game” for charity.
Scores will be reset to 0-0 at the start of the second and third quarters.
Going into the fourth, the teams will start with all the points they have amassed with a target score set to win the game.
The target will be the number of points scored by the leading team through the first three quarters — plus 24.