Damian Lillard denied All-Star starting spot
Portland's Damian Lillard was outvoted for a spot in the starting lineup among Western Conference players in the NBA All-Star Game, March 7 in Atlanta.
All-star starters were named Thursday during a TNT broadcast.
Two players will be captains for the teams in the All-Star Game, and they will pick players to be part of their team on March 4; one of the captains will be the L.A. Lakers' LeBron James, the top fan vote getter for Western Conference players.
So, it was James, Denver's Nikola Jokic and L.A. Clippers' Kawhi Leonard in the frontcourt, and Golden State's Stephen Curry and Dallas' Luka Doncic as guards named as West starters.
Doncic and Lillard were tied for the fifth spot in a formula for deciding starters.
Fan voting was 50% of the formula, and a media panel and player vote were 25% each. Doncic got the edge because he finished second in fan voting among guards and Lillard third (behind Curry).
Doncic had more than 3.3 million votes and Lillard more than 2.8 million.
"I think Damian Lillard should be a starter," TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal said. "He's actually playing better (than Doncic). Nobody is feared in the game like this Damian Lillard guy. Time in and time out, he's pushed off this list."
Said TNT's Kenny Smith: "The most feared man in basketball is Damian Lillard. He's still top three in terms of MVP (candidates) — then you should be starting. He's one of the top five basketball players in the world."
TNT's Charles Barkley said because it's a popularity contest, players like Lillard and Utah's Donovan Mitchell are often overlooked in being named starters. Mitchell had just over 700,000 votes and was fourth among backcourt players.
Lillard will surely be named a reserve player, which would be his sixth all-star appearance.
Brooklyn's Kevin Durant is the other captain. Starters among Eastern Conference players are Durant, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Washington's Bradley Beal and Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving.
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