The 2014 NBA All-Star game will certainly include lots of surprises. The biggest change we will most probably see is in the starting lineups for the two conferences. The lack of a true center in either was caused by the league’s decision to change the balloting to a backcourt-frontcourt format, taking away the separate center position. It’s also notable that the two All-Star teams have much quality in the reserve spots. Let’s discuss some of the most notable takeaways for the 2014 NOLA All Star Games.

Dwight Howard is the most vivid example. We couldn’t imagine an All-Star Game in which Howard would participate but he wouldn’t be a starter. And yet this year, we’ll see that happening. Blake Griffin and Kevin Love received more votes than Superman, forcing him to become an All-Star reserve. This will be Howard’s eighth All-Star appearance and it will be the first time since 2007 that Howard will not be a starter.

Chris Paul was also not selected as a starter. This can’t be actually be called a snub, since CP3 has been injured for a big chunk of the season. Nonetheless, Kobe Bryant has missed an even bigger part of the season and he was still voted as a starter. Fans voted for the Black Mamba despite his sloppy performances in the season and although Kobe urged fans to vote for other, younger stars, like Damian Lillard. Kobe won’t participate in the All-Star game due to an injury. It’s significant that in his first All-Star appearance, Stephen Curry finished ahead of Chris Paul in voting and he will now be a starter.

Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Paul and Howard form a Western All-Stars reserves, which have all be selected more than five times through their careers.

We meet similar quality and depth in the Eastern All-Stars, too. Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson, who highlight the Eastern All-Star reserves have earned more than eight and six All-Star selections respectively in their careers. Add in Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah and you have a group of quality reserves, in an Eastern All-Stars starting lineup in which the tallest player is LeBron James, listed 6’8”. LeBron will most probably play the center spot to start the All-Star Game.

In general, we will most probably see the two coaches changing their starting lineup sooner than later in the game, since the starting lineups don’t seem well-balanced.

Finally, it’s notable that there will be some significant absences from the All-Star Game. Players which we considered as a lock for the All-Star Game and other who stood big chances of earning a selection were eventually not voted by fans around the world.

Lance Stephenson, Goran Dragic and Anthony Davis are the most significant case. All three have been recording terrific seasons and for lots of analysts around the league, they deserved an All-Star participation.

Get ready for a fascinating All-Star Game, a celebration for both fans and for the players, before we proceed to the final stage of the season and all the way towards the playoffs.