The NBA All Star Game on Feb. 19 will once again feature the Best of the West versus the Beasts of the East – this time in the Big Easy. And while the highlight of the All Star Weekend in New Orleans will most likely feature some mainstays like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the rest of the roster always makes for an interesting discussion. With fan voting having begun, the conversation will only get more heated.
Some players in the league who’ve never set foot in an All Star Game are right now putting together strong campaigns for their first nod. So, while we can almost be certain that James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and DeMar DeRozan make their All returns, which players ought to suit up for their respective Conferences for the first time?
Here are five potential First-Time All Stars making a strong case for your vote!
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz
The forward is making a case for not only his spot in the NBA All Star Game, but for Utah’s appearance in the Playoffs over other fringe teams like the Blazers and Grizzlies. He’s averaging 22.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, and if you want to get an idea of how valuable he has become, check out how teams are already shopping for him. He’s a free agent next season, and one of the best all-around players in the market.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves’ record may look a little bleak, and yet no one will put down Karl-Anthony Towns for how well he’s been playing in just his sophomore season. The forward is averaging 21.5 points and 11.5 rebounds right now, and has helped Minnesota amass double digit leads in several matches before the team’s collective youth and inexperience cost them the end-game (such as that 2-minute, 12-point Houston collapse). Make no mistake, though – Towns will only get better.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Who have known that the Greek Freak have the makings of a potential franchise player? In his fourth NBA season, Antetokounmpo is now averaging 23.8 points per game, along with 9.0 rebounds and 5.9 assist, and he turned in a 39-point effort against the Wizards last month- a career high. The most fantastic thing about Giannis is his versatility on positions – there aren’t a lot of 6’11 forwards in the league who could play PG when the situation demands.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers
While the Clippers have dropped plenty of games recently, with Griffin and Paul both down, DeAndre Jordan remains a bright spot for the team. He’s averaging a double-double – 11.6 points and a whopping 13.3 rebounds per game – and could fill in the paint nicely for the Eastern All Stars. He’s already made the All NBA Team and All Defensive Team twice – an NBA All Star Game appearance is overdue.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Honestly, when the season began, how many people would have guessed that Porzingis would become the Knicks’ best player? On a roster that still featured Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, not a lot. And yet, Kristaps’s 20.1 points and 7.8 rebound stat line hardly belies how important he’s become for New York. Being a 7’3 monster who can stretch the floor, he’s likely to be the future of the franchise, deserving to see the All Star Game for the first time.
Any other idea who should make the list of NBA All Star Game players? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!