Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will replace Stephen Curry as a Western Conference All-Star starter, according to NBA insider Chris Haynes.
Morant gets the nod over Portland Trail Blazers All-Star reserve Damian Lillard, an 11-year NBA veteran and back-to-back Western Conference Player of the Week.
Also inserted into the Western Conference All-Star starting lineup is Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, who is replacing the injured Zion Williamson. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is replacing the injured (and now traded) Kevin Durant in the starting lineup on the Eastern Conference side.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Edwards, Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam have been named as All-Star injury replacements.
Lillard, a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team and seven-time All-Star, has never been named an All-Star starter, a consequence largely due to playing in the same era as Curry, James Harden and now the emergence of Dallas Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic.
With Curry out and Lillard playing arguably the best season of his career, this appeared to be his best chance to be named an All-Star starter. At 32, Lillard is averaging a career-high 30.9 points per game, along with 7.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds. He’s also shooting a career-high 46.3 percent from the field.
Instead, Morant will receive the honor. The fourth-year pro, one of the most electrifying talents in the league, is averaging 27.4 points on 46.8 percent shooting, 8.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds as the leader of the No. 2 seed Grizzlies.