Ben Simmons’ elite skills at both ends of the court have been rewarded with the Australian ace selected for the NBA All-Star game for a third successive year.
The Philadelphia 76ers guard is among the lost of 14 players selected by the NBA’s head coaches as reserves for the showpiece game on March 7 in Atlanta.
Simmons is on the eastern conference list that includes James Harden, Julius Randle, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic.
In the west, Zion Williamson gets a nod along with Chris Paul, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis.
Simmons, who made a slow start to the season as the Sixers found their feet under Doc Rivers as their new coach and two new starters, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists for the east’s top team.
In his past four games he is averaging 27.8 points, which includes a career-best 42-point haul, while his defence has many touting him as one of the game’s elite two-way player.
“I’m very grateful to be in this position and be able to say I’m a three-time All-Star in the best league in the world,” Simmons said.
“I think defensively I’ve stepped it up… And offensively just trying to be the point guard and run the team, staying aggressive and keeping my guys locked in.
New Orleans forward Williamson, 20, is the fourth-youngest player in the game’s 70-year history to be named an All Star, as one of four first timers – the others being Boston’s Brown, New York’s Randle and Chicago’s LaVine.
Phoenix veteran Paul is an All Star for the 11th time while Brooklyn’s James Harden is one for the ninth consecutive year.
Team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Durant of the Nets will draft their teams next week, with the rosters to be unveiled on March 4.
Starters, revealed last week, were chosen through a combination of voting by fans, NBA players and a media panel.
For the west they are: Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, James, Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Joki.
For the east they are: Kyrie Irving, Bradley Beal, Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid.
Some of the unfortunate players to miss selection were Atlanta’s Trae Young, an All-Star last season, Miami forwards Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler and Phoenix sharp-shooter Devin Booker.
“Devin Booker is the most disrespected player in our league!!!! Simple as that,” James tweeted.
Utah’s Quin Snyder will coach Team LeBron while Rivers will coach Team Durant.