Three Players That Will Be Missed in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game

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Damian Lillard (Photo by Mark Downey Lucid Images/Corbis via Getty Images)

All-Star Weekend has arrived in the NBA and it’s a highlight of the basketball calendar. The main event – the 2017 NBA All-Star Game – takes place on Sunday and it is certain to be an exciting spectacle. 24 of the league’s best players will face off and showcase the best that the league has to offer. But the NBA has many great players, so each year there will always be some notable absentees. Here’s a breakdown of three significant players that will miss out on the All-Star game.

Three Players That Will Be Missed in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game

Joel Embiid

Embiid narrowly missed out on a starting spot through fan, media and player voting. Next, he was overlooked by the coaches in favor of Paul Millsap. To add injury to insult, a torn meniscus has kept Embiid out of action for the last few weeks. It was another setback in a career laden with injury concerns. However, when he’s been healthy, Embiid is one of the best players two-way players in the league. He’s combined a mean block rate with the best rookie scoring outburst since NBA great Wilt Chamberlain.

Furthermore, Embiid’s jovial personality is what the All-Star Game is all about. His performances have changed the Philadelphia 76ers‘ attitude immediately. They are fearless and – when Embiid is on the floor – successful. It’s been less than a year since they finished the season with ten wins, but they look like an entirely different team already. Embiid will likely appear in next year’s edition of the All-Star Game, but he’ll be sorely missed in New Orleans.

Damien Lillard

Lillard’s omission is due to the strength of the Western Conference’s backcourt. Even Russell Westbrook, who’s averaging a triple double, couldn’t make the starting five in the All-Star Game. Lillard misses out mostly because of his Portland Trail Blazers stuttering season. They sit 10th in the West and two games out of playoff contention; despite Lillard’s bold ambitions of making the Conference Finals at the start of the season.

Despite his team’s lack of success, Lillard has been excellent this season. Averaging more than 25 points, 5 assists, and nearly 5 rebounds. Only three players in the league average a 25-5-5 stat line: Westbrook, James Harden, and LeBron James. That trio is arguably the top three MVP candidates, so Lillard is in exclusive company. His ability to score off the dribble is both rare and fun to watch, so it’s unfortunate that we won’t see it on Sunday.

Nikola Jokic

If consideration for the All-Star Game had begun at the start of January, Jokic could very well be a starter. Since then, he’s averaged over 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists, as well as adding a steal and block for good measure. The Denver Nuggets have gone 10-9 in the games Jokic has played in 2017, pushing them into the final playoff spot in the West. The Nuggets have been more keen to involve the Serbian center and he has paid them back with some incredible performances.

Jokic has everything on offense. A vast array of post moves, shooting abilities that extend to the three-point line, one-handed putbacks and laser passing. His defense is still a work in progress but it’s not bad – and who watches the All-Star Game for defense? Like Giannis Antetokounmpo last year, Jokic’s improvement has come a little late for him to be an All-Star, but be sure to see him throwing no-look lob and full court passes in future editions of the All-Star game.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of the NBA is that there are probably at least five other rejects that would have been great to watch in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. It’s an elite league and 24 players will demonstrate that on Sunday. It’s a shame Embiid, Lillard and Jokic won’t be joining them.

 

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