Gilgeous-Alexander, Markkanen and Jackson celebrate outstanding seasons with first All-Star selection

The Western Conference All-Star reserves included three selections for the first time, led by Most Improved Player candidates Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lauri Markkanen.

The booking announcement on Thursday followed the headline reveal a week earlier, where Los Angeles Lakers megastar LeBron James was named captain of the West team.

He will be joined by Dallas Mavericks MVP candidate Luka Doncic, New Orleans Pelicans powerhouse Zion Williamson, reigning Denver Nuggets back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic and Golden State Warriors icon Stephen Curry.

The Memphis Grizzlies are the only top-two team in either conference without a starter, but they will still send two players to All-Star Weekend with Ja Morant returning for his second-favorite defensive player of the year, Jaren Jackson. Jr. his first appearance.

Jackson leads the NBA with 3.3 blocks per game, while his combined 4.3 blocks and steals are well above second-ranked Nic Claxton (2.6 blocks, 0.7 steals) and Anthony Davis (2.0 blocks, 1.3 steals).

He is joined by fellow first-time draftees Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz’s key offseason trade acquisition Lauri Markkanen.

At 30.8 points per game, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks fifth in the league while boasting elite efficiency splits of 50.5 percent from the field, 35.9 percent from three and 91 percent. percent from the free throw line. He is also the only point guard to average at least one block per game (1.1) and is the only player in the league to average at least 1.5 steals (1.7) and one block.

While Gilgeous-Alexander’s trajectory was pointing upwards, Markkanen’s rise has been more of a surprise.

Having never scored more than 18.7 points per game or shot better than 48 percent from the field before, the Finland international team star now has as many as 24.9 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and a dizzying 43.4 percent. from deep

Also earning a spot in the West reserves was Los Angeles Clippers wing Paul George, who leads all reserves this year with his eighth pick, as well as Portland Trail Blazers all-time leading scorer Damian Lillard, with his seventh

The Sacramento Kings were campaigning for two All-Stars due to their impressive third-place finish in the West, but had to settle for just center Domantas Sabonis after point guard De’Aaron Fox was arguably the conference’s biggest snub.

Fox leads the team in scoring at 24.3 points per game and is also enjoying his first season shooting over 50 percent from the field, while Sabonis leads the league in rebounding at 12.4 per game to go along with his 18.8 points (61.5 percent). ). shot) and 7.1 assists.

Other than Jokic (10.0 assists per game), Sabonis is the only interior player in the league to average at least seven assists.

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