NBA

Six Future All-Stars – Western Conference

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While next month’s All-Star game will recognize the current crop of NBA superstars performing at a high level, it’s important to note there are more than a few guys waiting in the wings for their opportunity to shine on the big stage.

Normal All-Star locks like Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul are set to watch the festivities from home (or in the stands) this year, which should serve as a blatant reminder that the league is constantly changing the guard.

As the league’s hierarchy shifts new players will emerge to fill the void of once dominant, but now fading stars. In this piece, we’ll take a look at six players from the Western Conference that are headed for future All-Star status.

Future All-Star Consideration Criteria

  • Never been selected to the All-Star game
  • Must play in the Western Conference
  • Rookies have been excluded

Karl-Anthony Towns, Forward-Center, Minnesota Timberwolves
All-Star Projection: 
Next season

This should be the last season that the 2016 Rookie of the Year won’t have his name called for the All-Star game. The second-year forward is averaging 22.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, three assists and 1.4 blocks per contest this season. These are monstrous numbers and would normally be good enough to get a roster spot. However, the Timberwolves as a team have struggled to live up to the preseason hype, which diminished Towns’ worthiness of a nod.

C.J. McCollum, Guard, Portland Trail Blazers
All-Star Projection:
2-3 years

Damian Lillard’s All-Star snub has generated more headlines, but McCollum undoubtedly has numbers worthy of consideration moving forward. The fourth-year guard is averaging 23.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 48 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent shooting from three-point range. The Blazers as a unit have been less than impressive after making the playoffs last season in a strong campaign. McCollum has been one of the team’s most consistent performers and, at 25 years old, is starting to enter his prime years.

Rudy Gobert, Center, Utah Jazz
All-Star Projection:
2-3 years

The Jazz’s anchor in the middle has made his bones in the league as a dominant defensive player. Gobert isn’t the most polished offensive player but has improved his scoring average every season since entering the league. This season Gobert is averaging 12.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while playing a career-high 33.5 minutes. At 24 years old, Gobert has plenty of time to reach the All-Star game at his current trajectory.

Mike Conley, Guard, Memphis Grizzlies
All-Star Projection: 
Never is a strong possibility

Conley has been a key cog in a Grizzlies unit that has become a playoff fixture in the Western Conference for almost a decade. But sadly, he’s known for being one of the best players in the league without an All-Star appearance on his resume. At one point, Conley was severely underrated, but he’s since gained respect from the masses. But the emergence of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum will complicate matters for Conley in the future when it comes to All-Star game selections since they put up better stat lines. The return of Chris Paul next season is a strong possibility and guys such as Eric Bledsoe and Jrue Holiday have enough talent to make a run at a selection.

Andrew Wiggins, Guard-Forward, Minnesota Timberwolves
All-Star Projection:
2-3 years

As noted earlier, the first order of business in Minnesota is getting Karl-Anthony Towns an All-Star berth. But the Timberwolves also have another young budding star in the fold in Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. The third-year former University of Kansas standout is averaging a career-high 22 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field. At 21 years old, Wiggins isn’t close to even scratching his ceiling as a ball player.

Steven Adams, Center, Oklahoma City Thunder
All-Star Projection:
3-4 years

Adams is never going to be a boxs core stuffer but he’s established himself as a no-frills, hardworking, tough as nails performer. If you need a hard screen, Adams is there to deliver it. If you need a hard foul, Adams is there to commit it. If his coach decides to go small and keep him on the bench for long stretches, Adams accepts it and doesn’t complain. Once again, Adams isn’t the most talented or athletic guy on this list, but playing alongside All-Star Russell Westbrook provides the potential of a future All-Star selection down the line.

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About Lang Greene

Lang Greene

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last eight seasons

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