The NBA announced that both Philadelphia 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been ruled out of the 2021 All-Star Game due to contact tracing after their barber testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
This is something the NBA was hoping to avoid when deciding to follow through with the All-Star Game. Luckily though, neither Embiid nor Simmons had come in contact with anyone else yet, so every other player is still good to go for Sunday’s game.
Because they were ruled out so late, the NBA is not planning to replace the two All-Stars. Embiid was a starter for Team Durant, while Simmons was a reserve for Team LeBron, so now both teams will only have 11 available members for the game. New Orleans Pelicans young star Zion Williamson is expected to replace Embiid in the starting lineup for Team Durant.
While playing in the NBA All-Star Game is something every player hopes to do, this was certainly the right decision by the league as they cannot risk some of the game’s top stars missing time due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Embiid is in the midst of a career season for Philadelphia, currently one of the favorites to win the MVP award along with LeBron James and others at the halfway point. In 30 games, Embiid is averaging 30.2 points to go along with 11.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Simmons is having another typical season for himself, averaging 16.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists, which is a big reason why the 76ers have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-12.
Conley to replace Booker
One other player who won’t be playing in the All-Star game is Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who is nursing a knee injury. Booker was originally selected as a replacement for Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis as he continues to recover from an Achilles and calf injury.
Booker was ruled out in time for the NBA to select a replacement, so Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley was named an All-Star for the first time in his 14-year career. Conley has been playing some of his best basketball in a while and was deserving of the nod as the Jazz hold the best record in the NBA.
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