CLEVELAND (AP) — Jarrett Allen went from being snubbed to a sub.
Passed over in fan voting and overlooked by coaches as a reserve, Cleveland’s center will replace an injured James Harden at this year’s All-Star Game in Cleveland and give the Cavaliers two All-Stars for the first time since 2018.
Allen’s strong second season with the Cavs has helped push them among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The 6-foot-10 Allen was rewarded Monday by being chosen to take Harden’s place by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Allen will join teammate Darius Garland for this year’s event at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Both will play for Team LeBron (James), which will be coached by Phoenix’s Monty Williams.
Harden is dealing with a left hamstring issue that is delaying his debut with the Philadelphia 76ers. Harden, who was chosen by coaches as an All-Star reserve, was traded last week by the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster deal for Ben Simmons.
This is the first All-Star selection for Allen, who is averaging 16.2 points, a career-high 11.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots in 49 games. The 23-year-old is also second in the league in field-goal percentage (66.5%).
Shortly after learning Harden would miss the game, the Cavs began re-campaigning for Allen, who was passed over last week when Silver named Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball as Kevin Durant’s replacement.
“He should have been named an All-Star reserve from the jump,” said teammate Kevin Love, a five-time All-Star said of Allen. ”I told him, that doesn’t really matter how you get there. He’s been so consistent for us.
“He’s been a leader in that respect, brings it every single night. Posts a double-double, shoots extremely well from the floor. He’s a guy that wants to get better, a guy that wants to lead. It’s such a skill to play hard every single night and J.A. does that. He produces for us time and time again.”
Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff was equally effusive.
“I’m not knocking anyone else and obviously I’m biased, but I don’t know of anybody who deserves it more,” Bickerstaff said before Allen was selected. “If you talk about valuing the things that we’re supposed to value as a league and highlighting that, it’s impact on winning and being high-character people and teammates.
“Because of Jarrett and what he’s done for this team, we are where we are right now in a competitive Eastern Conference. He’s not out highlighting himself. All he worries about is helping this basketball team win and contributes at a high level. There is no other replacement in my mind.”
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