The NBA has announced that Suns guard Devin Booker will replace injured Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in this weekend’s All-Star Game and 3-point contest. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 first reported (via Twitter) that Booker would be Lillard’s replacement for both events.
Booker, 23, was widely considered the most notable Western Conference snub when the 2020 All-Star reserves were revealed last month. He took the exclusion hard, publicly suggesting the picks were about entertainment, drama and politics rather than rewarding the NBA’s best players. Now, after Lillard suffered a groin injury that will sideline him through the break and specifically endorsed Booker as his replacement, the Suns star will get a chance to play in his first All-Star Game.
In 52 games (35.9 MPG) this season, Booker has averaged 26.4 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.2 RPG with a shooting line of .496/.358/.920. Considering his scoring numbers are more impressive than those put up by several All-Stars, Booker presumably didn’t make the initial cut due to Phoenix’s poor record and his limitations on defense. Bradley Beal, the biggest snub in the Eastern Conference, was omitted from the list of All-Star reserves for similar reasons.
Beal was ineligible to step in for Lillard since the replacement had to come from the Western Conference, despite the fact that the All-Star Game won’t actually pit the East vs. the West. Booker will join LeBron James‘ team, since LeBron selected Lillard in last week’s All-Star draft.
Lillard had also been scheduled to put on a rap performance during Saturday night’s festivities in Chicago — it’s safe to say Booker won’t be replacing Dame D.O.L.L.A on stage as well, though it remains to be seen whether that performance will still happen.