Two former Kansas Jayhawks basketball players will start in 2022 NBA All-Star Game

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Former Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins is an All-Star for the first time in his NBA career, which has spanned eight seasons.

Wiggins, a 6-foot-7, 197-pound native of Thornhill, Canada, who played one season at Kansas (2013-14), on Thursday was announced as a starter for the Western Conference in the NBA’s annual showcase game slated for Feb. 20 in Cleveland.

Former KU center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be starting his fifth straight All-Star game, will head the lineup for the Eastern Conference.

Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, will be joined in the Western Conference starting lineup by Golden State teammate Stephen Curry, Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, 2021 NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets as well as LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fan ballots made up 50% of the vote with a media panel and current players each accounting for 25% of the vote.

Wiggins, who turns 27 on Feb. 23, averages 18.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game for Golden State.

According to ESPN.com’s Tim Bontemps, “Wiggins was able to edge teammate Draymond Green for the third West frontcourt spot. Wiggins received fewer player and media votes, but he ranked third among the fans’ voting while Green was sixth. As a result, Wiggins ended up with a weighted score of 4.25 points. Green came in at 4.75.”

ESPN cited Elias Sports Bureau research that indicates Wiggins is the third first-time all-star to be named a starter in his eighth season or later. Bob Boozer, a graduate of Kansas State, was named a starter in his eighth season in 1967-68. Kyle Lowry was named a starter in his ninth season in 2014-15.

Wiggins according to ESPN.com is the “40th different No. 1 overall pick in the modern draft era (since 1966) to make an All-Star team in his career — but the first of those not to make it until his eighth season or later.”

“He has earned his ‘Two-Way Wiggs/ nickname with a career-best 111 offensive rating and 106 defensive rating, also a career high,” wrote Dalton Johnson of nbcsports.com. “The small forward often guards the opposing team’s best scorer, especially when Draymond Green isn’t available.”

Embiid will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup by Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, plus Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, Atlanta’s Trae Young and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Durant may not play because of injury.

Embiid is averaging 29.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Embiid has averaged 31.6 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists since returning in late November from a case of COVID-19.

“I’m a competitor, so anytime I go out there, I still have fun, but also to try to win,” Embiid told TNT of participating in the All-Star game. “That’s my goal. I’m just going to go out there, having fun, try to win, and be the MVP.”

The All-Star reserves will be selected by the coaches in both conferences. They will be revealed next Thursday on TNT. James and Durant then will pick their respective teams.

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