Breaking Down First Time All-Star Candidates
A Look at who Could Make Their First All-Star Game This Season
In the 2015–16 season, we witnessed one of the most talented rookie classes of the past decade. With another year of development, a few of those players could actually make their way into the All-Star game this season. In addition to the youngsters, there are also a few slightly older players who have been snubbed in the past, but could finally make it this year. So, let’s take a look at the candidates who will have a shot to make their first All-Star game in the 2016–17 season.
Karl Towns is a freak on the basketball court. He has the ability to stretch the floor with shooting, put the ball down and drive to the basket, and he can even have his way on the low post. There is not much the twenty year old phenom can’t do. After one of the most productive rookie seasons in NBA history, Towns is ready to make his All-Star debut in New Orleans this season.
Towns’ teammate Andrew Wiggins showed flashes of an incredibly high ceiling last season. The star potential is there, and with Tom Thibodeau running the show in Minnesota, Wiggins and his fellow teammates could really take a huge step in the right direction this year. In just his second year in the league, Wiggins averaged just north of 20 points per game — a three point improvement from his rookie season. With another year of NBA experience under his belt, and much better talent around him, Wiggins could really make some noise this year. He is in prime position to become a perennial All-Star, and this could be his first year.
DeAndre Jordan was named to the All-NBA First team last season, and All-Defensive First team in each of the last two seasons. Despite those accomplishments, Jordan has shockingly never been selected to an All-Star game. This season, that could change. Jordan has improved dramatically on both sides of the ball in the past few seasons, and he’ll only continue to get better. If all goes well for Jordan in his 2016–17 campaign, he should finally be named to the All-Star team.
After being snubbed from the All-Star game in 2016, Kemba Walker is ready for the big show. Walker put together an outstanding year, averaging 20.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. However, Kemba is often overlooked by many. Now that he is the undisputed leader of the Hornets, who gained much more notoriety in the playoffs, Walker could get the recognition he didn’t get last time around. If he improves his production from last year, Kemba is in line for his first All-Star selection in 2017.
The reigning Most Improved Player is on his way to stardom alongside fellow backcourt teammate Damian Lillard. With the impressive run the Blazers had last season, this team, centered around their powerhouse backcourt will only get better. With his newfound confidence, McCollum can improve on his already impressive 20.8 points and 4.3 assists per game from last season. Last year was the first time he played more than 15 minutes per game and he looked like a new man compared to his first two seasons. Improvement like that is no fluke. McCollum has serious talent and will be a very real candidate to make the 2017 All-Star game.
At the end of last season, Porzingis was guaranteed to be on this list. Then Phil Jackson traded for Derrick Rose and signed Joakim Noah, making Porzingis the third option on a team that does not have a gifted passer. The Latvian Forward should have been the focus of this offense, but he may get a bit overshadowed by Derrick Rose who is playing for a new contract and a ball hungry Carmelo Anthony. His rapidly growing fan base should help his All-Star pursuit, but lack of touches may end up preventing Porzingis from being selected to this year’s All-Star game.
Last year, the Greek Freak averaged a very well-rounded 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Those were all career highs by a long shot, and he achieved those numbers by shooting a career best from the field as well. He has the excitement and athleticism of an All-Star, but his game does need some work. If he can improve on his below average three ball, which was an abysmal 25%, and get a bit more agressive and consistent, Giannis could find himself going to All-Star games for the next 10+ years.
Beal seemed to be one of the most promising young players after his first two seasons in the league, but injuries have prevented him from making the next big leap. This summer, the Wizards placed a $128 million bet on Beal, so now it’s time to prove he’s worth the big bucks. With one of the smoothest shots in the league and a new coach in Scott Brooks who is known for bringing out the best in young players, Beal should be itching to make his way to New Orleans come Febuary. Whether or not he can stay healthy enough to do so will be the million dollar question.
Oladipo finds himself in a very interesting situation. He spent his first few seasons in Orlando and now he enters OKC as the sidekick to one of the best point guards in the game. Oladipo was traded to the Thunder on draft night, and now that Durant is gone, Oladipo will likely be the second option behind Westbrook. The former Hoosier did not have the breakout year everyone was expecting last season, but his move to OKC should allow his career to really take off. While it is a bit of a long shot, Oladipo could slide his way into All-Star consideration in the upcoming season.