If you've watched Joel Embiid play this season, you likely have little doubt that he’s one of the best players in the NBA.
That became official on Thursday night, when the Sixers center was named an All-Star starter for the second straight season. Embiid is the first Sixer to be selected to back-to-back All-Star games since Allen Iverson, who made seven consecutive All-Star teams from 1999-2000 to 2005-2006.
This year’s game will be held on Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Embiid is averaging 27.2 points, 13.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks per game for the 32-17 Sixers, and he has a league-leading 40 double-doubles. He’s defended 798 shots, most in the Eastern Conference, and opponents are shooting just 44.6 percent against him.
His impact on the Sixers is massive on both ends of the floor. Embiid has a 31.7 percent usage rate, behind only the incomparable outlier that is James Harden. The Sixers’ defensive rating rises from 102.3 when he’s on the court to 108.1 when he’s on the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker were named the other starters from the East, while LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Stephen Curry and James Harden were selected from the Western Conference. Starters were decided by weighting fans votes at 50 percent, player votes at 25 percent and media votes at 25 percent.
Head coaches will choose seven reserves from each conference to round out the rosters, which will be announced next Thursday at 7 p.m.
Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler are strong contenders for two of those spots, as we detailed here. The Sixers haven't had three All-Stars in a season since Charles Barkley, Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks in 1986-87.
Captains James and Antetokounmpo, the two leading vote-getters, will choose their teams in a draft on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. on TNT.
That promises to be an interesting event, with the trade deadline at 3 p.m. on the same day.
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