Julius Randle was selected to represent the Knicks at the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, but Jalen Brunson was not.
Randle will make his second All-Star appearance in three years after being named one of seven reserves out of the Eastern Conference for the midseason showcase event on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City.
Brunson, who sat out Thursday’s game against the Heat with a non-COVID illness, still is looking for his first All-Star nod despite averaging a career-best 22.8 points and 6.2 assists in 49 games in the first year of a four-year, $104 million contract he signed via free agency last summer.
“I think both are deserving,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said before the selections were announced on TNT. “I think Julius had a monster year all season and I’m hopeful Jalen gets recognized for the contributions that he made.”
Joel Embiid (76ers), Bam Adebayo (Heat), DeMar DeRozan (Bulls) and guards Jaylen Brown (Celtics), Jrue Holiday (Bucks) and Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers) joined Randle as Eastern reserves.
Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Domantas Sabonis (Kings), Lauri Markkanen (Jazz) and Paul George (Clippers) were named as reserves in the West.
The East’s starters are Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, Kevin Durant of the Nets and Jayson Tatum of the Celtics in the frontcourt, along with guards Donovan Mitchell of the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving of the Nets.
Randle endured a step-back season last year after winning the league’s Most Improved Player award and being named second-team All-NBA in 2020-21. But he entered Thursday’s game registering career bests of 24.7 points and 10.9 rebounds while appearing in all 53 games this season for the Knicks.
Neither Randle, who receives a $1.2 million bonus for being named to the squad, nor Brunson were made available to the media before Thursday’s game.
“I think he’s had a great season. A lot was made of last season. Last season he was challenged in a different way because of what he had done the previous season and we had injuries to our point guards last year. So he had to do a lot,” Thibodeau said. “People were locked in pretty good to him. I think getting Jalen has freed him up. And he’s done a good job of diversifying his game.”
Those voted in to start for the West were LeBron James of the Lakers, Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Zion Williamson of the Pelicans up front, with Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic in the backcourt.