When the Western Conference became stacked with talent following an offseason of trades and free agent signings, the projected All-Star rosters as they were known became majorly imbalanced.
The NBA has changed the format for the 2018 game to remove conference affiliations. The All-Star starters who receive the most fan votes from the East and the West will be named team captains. These two players will draft their teams from the voted-in starters and reserves.
This offseason four 2017 Eastern Conference All-Stars joined Western Conference teams (Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Paul George and Paul Millsap) while Gordon Hayward was the lone All-Star to leave the West.
That shift in talent opened up a bigger window of opportunity for players in the East, including Joel Embiid, to earn a selection. Embiid was in contention last season despite playing in limited games.
The NBA is carrying over its voting process to select 12 players from each conference. Ten starters will be chosen from a 50 percent fan vote, 25 percent current player vote and 25 percent media vote. Fourteen reserves will be picked by head coaches.
The All-Star Game now will be played for charity. Each team will decide upon a national or Los Angeles-area organization.
Joel Embiid does not expect to play in the Sixers’ first back-to-back Saturday.
“I’m not playing tomorrow. No back-to-backs yet,” he said before Friday’s game. “I don’t think so. I’ve got to check on that again. But there’s a plan in place and that’s what I’m going to follow.”
The Sixers faced the Celtics on Friday in their home opener and then will travel to Toronto Saturday night to take on the Raptors. It is their first of 14 pairs of back-to-back matchups this season. He projects he will eventually be cleared for them.
“This year, there’s not a lot of back-to-backs,” Embiid said. “I feel like I’ll miss some but I’m not sure when. But I’ll definitely play some back-to-backs this year.”
Embiid has yet to be cleared for consecutive games in his injury-hampered career. It is important for him for reach that checkmark.
“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.
Sitting out Saturday will not bump up his minutes Friday, Embiid said. He played 26:57 in the season opener Wednesday and is eyeing somewhere around 20 against the Celtics. Brett Brown is managing his playing time within a range, not a specific restriction like last season.
The key to being cleared for more minutes and back-to-backs? Staying away from injuries.
“I’ve got to balance it out because I’m ultra-competitive so I want to get out there, jump in the stands, dive for every loose ball,” Embiid said. “But at the same time, I’ve to find a balance in between staying healthy and doing all that.”