NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has named Mike Conley as the replacement for Team Durant's guard Devin Booker in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on March 7 at the State Farm Arena, the home of the Atlanta Hawks.
The Suns' backcourt star has been ruled out due to a left knee sprain, the league announced.
The irony won't be lost on Booker, who was brought in as a replacement for injured LA Lakers forward Anthony Davis in this year's edition of the NBA All-Star Game.
Booker's replacement, Mike Conley Jr., will also take his spot in the 3-Point Contest, which will air before the NBA All-Star Game.
NBA All-Star 2021: 3 Players who deserved to be in the game before Mike Conley Jr.
Mike Conley Jr., the 14-year veteran, will be rolling out in Atlanta for the first NBA All-Star appearance of his career. He is averaging 16.1 points per game, while shooting a career-high 42.2% from the three-point line in 29 games this season.
Conley had been one of the leading figures to make it to his first NBA All-Star Game in over a decade, but failed to make his space in a stacked Western Conference full of elite guards like the splash brothers (Steph and Klay Thompson), the former Rocket James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Westbrook to name a few.
As fans of the Utah Jazz celebrate their team having three All-Star participants this season, others have been left scratching their heads in dismay.
Mike Conley has put up impressive numbers this campaign but the league has snubbed other elite players who have filled up the stat sheet with much better numbers than Mike and deserve to be part of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.
In this piece, we will take a look at three NBA talents who have been blazing for their clubs this season but will be watching the NBA All-Star Game from their homes like the rest of us.
#1 DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)
DeMar DeRozan is a premier talent who should have received the green light to join the 2021 NBA All-Star Game. The San Antonio Spurs have proven to be one of the most lethal teams in the West this season and it's baffling to see them go without even one All-Star selection.
DeRozan should have been the ideal choice as he is leading the legendary ball club with averages of twenty points, 7.2 assists, and 4.9 rebounds on an efficient 48.4% shooting display.
More than just the averages is the impact he's made on the Spurs team this campaign, shouldering them against all odds and positioning them as a top contender.
While Conley is at best the third wheel in the Utah Jazz's system, DeRozan remains the captain of his side and deserves his not-to-be 5th All-Star appearance this year.
#2 De'Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings)
De'Aaron Fox is a walking bucket who can light up opposing teams within a matter of seconds. It's nothing short of a travesty for him to be sitting out of the NBA All-Star Game with the numbers he's posting this season.
The fourth-year guard has been on fire from the field, registering a career-high average of 23 points, 7.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 35 games heading into the NBA All-Star Break.
Fox, the fifth overall pick in 2017 brings more to the table than his scoring averages as has a knack for making timely buckets, especially in late-game situations.
Perhaps his team's lackluster season record has swayed momentum away from his candidacy as Sacramento is currently occupying the 13th spot in the West with a 14 - 22 record.
It would have been fun to watch Fox hit the floor in the NBA All-Star game as he would have certainly made for some highlight plays with his scoring prowess.
#3 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC Thunder)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the brightest young players in the association. He has emerged as the floor leader for the new-look OKC Thunder squad this season.
SGA has been steadily improving his production from the floor over the past three years, reaching new heights this campaign. He is arguably the most deserving player to have been snubbed from the 2021 NBA All-Star Game as the 22-year-old combo guard has been posting phenomenal numbers on a nightly basis.
In 30 games this season, Shai has averaged 23.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.2 assists. What makes his effort more impressive is his efficiency, as he is making it drop at a high level.
In the first half of the season, he has shot the ball with 51.1% accuracy from the floor and a respectable 41.2% from deep. While his star power may be flying under the radar, for now, fans can rest assured his time to shine brightly is on the horizon.