Joel Embiid couldn’t help but smile when asked Wednesday night about the expectation that he’d be named an All-Star reserve.
“I don’t know if I’m going to an All-Star,” Embiid said with a big grin.
No shocking snub happened for Embiid. After missing out on a sixth straight All-Star starter selection, Embiid was indeed announced Thursday among the NBA’s 14 All-Star reserves. Embiid has won back-to-back Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards and his 33.5 points per game lead the NBA.
“You never know,” Embiid said. “Like I said the other day, I’m used to the disrespect, so I would not be surprised if I don’t make it. So we shall see. If I don’t make it, it’s whatever. If I do, it’s a blessing — every single year, starters or not. I’m competitive, so obviously you want to be the best and I felt like I put myself in the position to be up there and the best.
“Disappointing, but that’s not what matters. Like I keep saying, when we’re right I feel like we have an opportunity to accomplish something big, so that’s where my focus is.”
Teammate James Harden's All-Star fate was less certain than Embiid's heading into Thursday night. The NBA's head coaches did not choose Harden as an All-Star, ending his streak of 10 straight selections. Harden's All-Star case was evidently hurt by him sitting out 14 games with a right foot tendon strain.
Embiid obviously feels Harden was deserving and tweeted that the NBA has "some explaining to do."
Captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will draft their teams immediately before the Feb. 19 game in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The 33-year-old Harden has averaged 21.4 points and 11.0 assists for the 33-17 Sixers, who sit third in the Eastern Conference standings. Harden was happy to be asked Wednesday night about going 3 for 3 on catch-and-shoot three-pointers in the Sixers’ win over the Magic. He’s taken 1.7 catch-and-shoot threes per game this season — up from 1.2 with the Sixers last year — and made 47.5 percent of them, per NBA.com/Stats.
“I’m working on it, so that’s pretty exciting,” Harden said. “Don’t want to do too much, just catch and shoot. You put the work in; I work on it every day. Opportunities are going to come, whether it’s from Joel, whether it’s from dribble penetration and guys getting to the paint, creating mismatches, creating double teams and they’ll get a shot for me.”
Last year’s All-Star Game took place shortly after the Sixers acquired Harden from the Nets. Though he did not participate because he was rehabbing a left hamstring injury, Harden was honored as a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team.
“I’m not going to sit up here and say I should be an All-Star, make a case or none of that, but the numbers show it. Our seed shows it,” Harden said Wednesday. “It would be I think my 11th in a row, so obviously it’s always an honor. You never want to take none of that for granted. It means you’re doing something right and you’re making an impact on your team. … If my name is called, great. If not, we have bigger and better goals for the season.”