Speculation ramped up during the week Ben Simmons was staring at a slap in the face by being snubbed as an NBA All-Star but the Aussie basketballer was officially unveiled as a reserve in the Eastern Conference side to be captained by Kevin Durant.
It means Simmons will play in his third All-Star game next month, appearing alongside Philadelphia teammate Joel Embiid and reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, while the reserves list features the likes of James Harden and Jayson Tatum.
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Plenty of quality players missed out, though. LA Lakers star and Western Conference captain LeBron James couldn’t believe the “disrespect” shown to Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker.
“Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!! Simple as that,” James tweeted.
Atlanta Hawks young gun Trae Young, DeMar DeRozan of San Antonio and Sixers sharpshooter Tobias Harris were also unlucky to be snubbed.
Simmons is on a hot streak of late, proving the doubters wrong after being dragged into trade rumours about being shipped away from the 76ers to make room for Harden, who wanted out of Houston.
Harden eventually fell at the Nets and Simmons stayed in Philly, where he has been in incredible form for the past month.
His scoring average has jumped from 13 points a game in December/January to 22 points in February and Embiid’s absence from a road game against Utah appeared to be the catalyst for Simmons’ new-found aggressiveness.
That 42-point explosion was followed by 28 points on 9/11 shooting against Toronto on Monday. In both games, critically, Simmons showed an ability and willingness to take and make free throws.
His increased offensive output coupled with defence that very few people on the planet are capable of producing saw Simmons make a late run for his third consecutive All-Star berth, which was confirmed on Wednesday.
The Australian is averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game this season, but in his last four games, averages 27.8 points.
Stephen Curry — Golden State Warriors
Luka Doncic — Dallas Mavericks
LeBron James — Los Angeles Lakers (captain)
Kawhi Leonard — Los Angeles Clippers
Nikola Jokic — Denver Nuggets
Western Conference reserves
Chris Paul — (Phoenix Suns)
Paul George — (Los Angeles Clippers)
Damian Lillard — (Portland Trail Blazers)
Donovan Mitchell — (Utah Jazz)
Rudy Gobert — (Utah Jazz)
Kyrie Irving — Brooklyn Nets
Bradley Beal — Washington Wizards
Kevin Durant — Brooklyn Nets (captain)
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Milwaukee Bucks
Joel Embiid — Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)