The Nets will have three NBA All-Stars for the first time in their history. And despite the quirks of the format, they’ll end up together on Team Durant.
The top vote-getter and captain of the Eastern Conference, Kevin Durant — who is injured and will miss the game — selected his Brooklyn teammates Kyrie Irving and James Harden in Thursday’s NBA All-Star Draft. He also tabbed Knicks forward Julius Randle with the fifth pick in the second round, giving his team a New York flavor.
The All-Star game will take place Sunday in Atlanta.
As the top overall vote-getter, Lakers star LeBron James had the top pick in the first round, comprised of the starters, regardless of conference. He tabbed Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning MVP. That left Durant free to take Irving with the second pick.
“With the second pick in the 2021 NBA All-Star Draft, I’m going to select Kyrie Irving,” Durant said. He also had the top pick of the second round, a pool comprised of the reserves. Since Irving had edged out Harden in the Eastern Conference voting, the latter was available to get scooped up by Durant.
“I mean this is a pretty obvious pick,” Durant admitted. “He plays for the Brooklyn Nets; I’m going to go with James Harden.”
Durant and Irving came to the Nets together in June 2019, although Durant missed all of last season recovering from Achilles surgery. After adding Harden — who is having an MVP-caliber season — the Nets (23-14) entered the break just a half-game out of first place in the Eastern Conference. But Durant will also miss Sunday’s All-Star Game with a left hamstring strain that’s forced him to sit out the last nine straight for Brooklyn.
Team James will be highlighted by not only the Lakers star, but also the Greek Freak Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.
Team Durant also added Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum — who replaced the injured Durant as a starter — and Randle.
“This guy is going crazy this year, first-time All-Star, Julius Randle,” Durant said in selecting the Knick.
Randle entered Thursday averaging a career-high 23.1 points — including 41.2 percent from behind the arc — 10.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists in a breakthrough campaign. He had helped the Knicks to an 18-18 mark entering Thursday’s game against Detroit and a surprising fifth-place standing in the East under Tom Thibodeau.