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All-Star Preview: Draft results, Beal’s starting role, event schedule and more
On Sunday night, Bradley Beal will hear his name announced as an All-Star starter for the first time in his nine-year NBA career, joining the biggest names in the NBA at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Beal was voted into his starting spot in a landslide, finishing first among Eastern Conference guards in fan, player and media voting. The recognition is well-earned as he currently leads the NBA in points per game (32.9), 30-point games (22) and ranks second in the league in 40-point games (4) through the first half of the season.
Beal was drafted eighth overall by Team Durant in Thursday night’s NBA All-Star Draft and will start alongside Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum.
TEAM DURANT: Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic and Zion Williamson
TEAM LEBRON: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Ben Simmons
Among the long list of great players Beal will share the court with on Sunday night, his name stands out. Beal’s ascendance this season has drawn the attention and respect – as seen in the All-Star voting – from the entire basketball community. While opposing coaches did not cast votes for All-Star starters (coaches vote for all 14 reserve positions), the respect they have for Beal is apparent in their approach to defending him. Beal has faced double- and triple-teams all season long and drawn effusive praise from those tasked with holding him in check.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier this season that Beal has earned the fact that opponents “throw everything and the kitchen sink to slow him down.”
To this point in the season, those all-in defensive efforts have yet to show results. He leads the league with a 35.8 usage rate, but has seen his efficiency climb from last year’s 30-point-per-game campaign. Per Basketball reference, Beal’s player efficiency rating (24.8) and true shooting percentage (.597) have increased since last season while his turnover percentage (10.6) has dropped. Beal is currently on pace to become the 17th player in league history with multiple seasons averaging at least 30.0 points per game and just the third player to do so in the last decade (Harden, Durant).
Sunday night will provide a national stage for Beal’s remarkable talent and an opportunity to put to rest any question of where he stands among the league’s best.
Per NBA.com: The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will have the same competitive format as the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. The two All-Star teams will compete to win each quarter for their respective beneficiaries…Each of the first three quarters will begin with the score of 0-0 and will last 12 minutes. The winner of each 12-minute quarter (first, second and third) will be the team that scores the most points within that quarter…The Final Target Score will be determined by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points…to honor the late Kobe Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the final 10 seasons of his career… Once the Final Target Score is set, the teams will play an untimed fourth quarter and the first team to reach (or surpass) the Final Target Score will win the NBA All-Star Game.
A full breakdown of the game format can be found HERE.
While the game format from last year remains, the surrounding NBA All-Star festivities will look a little different this season. The traditional All-Star Saturday Night events are now set to take place the same night as the All-Star Game. The Taco Bell Skills Challenge and MTN DEW 3-Point Contest will each take place pregame, beginning at 6:30 P.M. The AT&T Slam Dunk Contest, normally the crown jewel of the Saturday night showcase, will take place during halftime of the All-Star Game.
The Skills Challenge will feature Robert Covington (Trail Blazers), Luka Doncic (Mavericks), Chris Paul (Suns), Julius Randle (Knicks), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers) and Nikola Vucevic (Magic).
The 3-Point Contest field is made up entirely of All-Stars: Devin Booker (Suns), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Zach LaVine (Bulls) and Donovan Mitchell (Jazz).
The Slam Dunk Contest features just three contestants, Anfernee Simons (Trail Blazers), Cassius Stanley (Pacers) and Obi Toppin (Knicks).
All the night’s action will be broadcast nationally on TNT.