February 22, 2024

Trae Young, Scottie Barnes replacing Joel Embiid, Julius Randle in All-Star Game: Why they were picked


By John Hollinger, Eric Koreen and Lauren Merola

Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young will replace Philadelphia 76ers forward Joel Embiid and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, who are both sidelined with injuries, in the 2024 All-Star Game.

Barnes and Young were named as Eastern Conference team replacements by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Young, a now three-time All-Star, is eighth in the NBA in scoring (27.3) and second in assists (10.9) behind Tyrese Haliburton. They are the only two players in the league averaging at least 10 assists. Young has recorded an NBA-high 490 total assists, a category he also led in each of the past two seasons.

First-time All-Star Barnes, the fourth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft who blossomed upon his entry into the league, was named the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year and hasn’t looked back. He averaged 15.3 points during his rookie and sophomore seasons before upping his contributions to 20.2 points per game this season. Barnes’ scoring average, rebounds (8.1) and assists (5.8) this season are all career highs.

Barnes is the only other player besides 2024 NBA All-Star starter Giannis Antetokounmpo to have at least 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 250 assists, 50 blocks and 50 steals this season.

Embiid was in the midst of a monster season before having surgery on the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He is expected to be re-evaluated in four weeks, though when he will see the court again looms over what was an ongoing historic season for the big man. Embiid broke the 76ers’ franchise record for points in a game with 70 on Jan. 22, becoming just the ninth player in league history to do so.

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Embiid was a voted starter for the East alongside Haliburton (Indiana Pacers), Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Damian Lillard (Milwaukee Bucks) and Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks). Randle was selected to come off the bench. And he, too, was a cog in the wheel of a team that was gelling and showing out, especially since the Knicks’ addition of OG Anunoby on Jan. 1. New York’s gone 15-3 since.

Randle was the second leading scorer behind Jalen Brunson, another 2024 NBA All-Star reserve player, and led the team in rebounds. Despite being out for nearly two weeks, his spot still holds in both categories.

Randle suffered a dislocated shoulder against the Miami Heat on Jan. 26. He was hurt driving to the basket with minutes to spare, on the brink of victory, against Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. Randle is expected to be out for at least a few weeks.

Why Young was chosen

Young continues his pattern of only making the All-Star team in even years, having also been selected in 2022 and 2020. He was left off the initial list of East reserves largely as a result of the Hawks’ struggles this year; Atlanta is 10th in the East at 22-28.

While his size makes him a liability on defense, Young has stepped up his effort on that end of the floor this season as well, subjectively having his best year despite the Hawks ranking just 28th overall. He’s the eighth Atlanta-era Hawk to make the All-Star team at least three times, joining Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Joe Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, Dominique Wilkins, Dan Roundfield and Lou Hudson. — John Hollinger, NBA senior writer

Why Barnes was chosen

It was easy to think the Raptors’ record would eliminate Barnes from All-Star potential. Heading into Tuesday’s games, the Raptors are five games worse than the next team to land an All-Star — the Hawks. But the third-year forward has shown off his two-way game, certifying himself as a playmaker on both ends.

Barnes can go from hitting a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to erasing a shot attempt with a thundering block on the other. A scoring average of 20.2 points is low for an All-Star, but his ability to impact the game in so many different ways has impressed league observers to the point that he got this spot. — Eric Koreen, Raptors staff writer

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(Photo: Cole Burston / Getty Images)





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