Celtics

Kemba Walker named All-Star starter

Kemba Walker. AP Photo/Sam Hodde

MIAMI (AP) — Celtics point guard Kemba Walker was named one of the 10 starters for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced Thursday night.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks will be the captains, just as they were last season. They earned the captaincies by being the top overall vote-getters from the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively.

The other starters for the Feb. 16 game in Chicago: Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks.

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James, as the leading overall vote-getter, will have the top pick when he and Antetokounmpo pick their teams; Antetokounmpo will pick first in the second round, when the reserves are chosen.

The reserves will be announced Jan. 31, with NBA head coaches doing the voting for those. James and Antetokounmpo will pick their teams on Feb. 6, first splitting up the eight remaining starters and then choosing from the pool of 14 reserves.

James’s coach will be his All-Star coach, too: Lakers coach Frank Vogel is headed to Chicago, after his team clinched the best record in the Western Conference by the Feb. 2 cutoff with a win in Brooklyn on Thursday night. The Lakers are 36-9, second-best in the NBA behind only Milwaukee.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is ineligible to coach the All-Star Game because he did the job last year. The coach of Team Giannis will be the coach of the team with the Eastern Conference’s best record — not including Milwaukee — through games played on Feb. 2.

The starters were chosen through a formula that gave 50% of the weight to fan votes, 25% to player votes and 25% to voting done by a panel of 100 media members.

For the most part, the fans got who they wanted. The three frontcourt selections from the East and West mirrored the fan voting, as did the West guards. The only exception was among East guards: Young was the fans’ top pick, while Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving was second among fans and Walker was third.

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Walker, however, was the top East guard choice among media and NBA players. Irving was sixth in both of those tallies, enough to drop his total score below Walker.

NBA players cast votes for 292 of their colleagues as potential starters. Media members voted for a total of 26 different players.

James is a starter for the 16th time, an NBA record. Being a 16-time All-Star also puts him third on the all-time appearance list, behind 19-time selection Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and 18-time selection Kobe Bryant.

James received 6,275,459 fan votes, edging Doncic for the West captain’s spot by 163,724 votes. James has been a captain all three years of this format being in place by the NBA; Team LeBron beat Team Giannis last year, and Team LeBron beat Team Stephen Curry in 2018.

Antetokounmpo received 5,902,286 votes, easily the most in the race to be the captain from the East. Embiid got the second-most votes in the East, at 3.1 million and barely half of Antetokounmpo’s total.

Fan voting, the NBA said, was up 7% from last year.

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