Last night, All-Star rosters for each conference were finalized with the announcement of the reserve players. Of course, the conversation now shifts to which players were snubbed from the game that should have been included.
With only 12 spots available, there will always be a player or two snubbed from the game. This year, several players made a strong case to earn their first trip to the game but ultimately didn’t get the nod. Some of these players could still earn an invite to the game should an injury occur between now and All-Star weekend, but that remains to be seen.
As we’ve already covered which players were snubbed from the game, we’d like to discuss which players have established themselves as future All-Stars. With so many players in the league, this list could go on for a while, so we narrowed it down to six potential players. Of course, there could be other players not mentioned here that ultimately earn an All-Star selection in the future, but we settled on these guys. For this list, we considered players with less than five years of experience. Sorry, Mike Conley.
Which players could be future All-Star players? Here are six names to keep an eye on (in no particular order):
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers:
Sorry, Embiid. The popular vote didn’t do you any favors, either. While Embiid ultimately didn’t earn a spot on the Eastern Conference roster, it’s still remarkable that we’re even here today having this discussion. There were times during his rehab from multiple foot surgeries that it was questioned if Embiid would ever even play for the Sixers.
Embiid has been flat-out masterful at times this season. In limited minutes, he’s averaging 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.1 assists in 25.3 minutes per game. While he hasn’t logged enough games to be considered qualified, Embiid’s 2.5 blocks per game would rank second in the league – his 74 total rejections ranks 11th among all players. He leads all rookies in points, rebounds and blocks. If Embiid can remain healthy in the future, there is no question he’ll find himself partaking in the weekend’s festivities in future years.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz:
There was a significant amount of support for Gobert to earn a spot on this year’s Western Conference squad, and it seems reasonable to think that he’ll get there eventually in the future. The frontcourt in the West proved to be too stacked with talent as players like Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan earned the nod over Gobert.
Gobert is averaging career-highs all across the board in points (12.8), rebounds (12.6), blocks (2.5) and field-goal percentage (66.4 percent). He currently ranks fifth among all players in rebounds, first in blocks and second in field-goal percentage. He’s perhaps the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year this season as he’s first in the league in total blocks, block percentage, defensive rating and defensive win shares. While he may not be an All-Star, he’ll surely be using his snub as fuel over the rest of the season.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves:
As his teammate Kris Dunn said, Towns has been “unreal” this season. In just his second season in the NBA, Towns is averaging 22.4 points, 11.9 rebounds, three assists and 1.5 blocks per game. He’s tied for 19th in scoring, seventh in rebounding, 14th in blocks and 20th in PER. Towns finished seventh in the fan vote and 10th in player voting.
What likely hurt Towns’ chances this season are the players ahead of him. As we previously mentioned with Gobert, several of the league’s top frontcourt players are ahead of him in the rankings like Green, Cousins, Gasol and Jordan. While it may not have been his time this season for the All-Star game, his future looks awfully good.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks:
While the Knicks have largely been a dumpster fire this season, Porzingis has been one of few bright spots for the team. Although he’s been dealing with an injury recently, Porzingis has shown a lot of promise this season. He’s averaging 18.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 assists per game.
Porzingis has benefited this season with a bigger offensive role for the Knicks. He nearly has more three-point attempts than he had all of last season and he’s converting on a higher percentage, shooting 38.4 percent from three-point range this season. Given his rise in just a season and a half, it won’t be surprising to see Porzingis playing in the All-Star game sooner than later.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets:
As his own head coach will say, Jokic is an All-Star. Obviously not in literal fashion this season, but it won’t be surprising to see him eventually there. Jokic is averaging 15.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season. His 15.2 points per game feels a bit low considering the month he’s had in January.
In 11 games this month, Jokic is averaging 23.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He’s already had two games this month with at least 30 points. He had no 30-point games prior to this month. He’s establishing himself as one of the better scoring big men in the league and should only continue to improve. It’s hard to believe this is just his second season in the NBA.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards:
For Beal, the backcourt in the East is as stacked as they come. The decision to place Beal into the game over, say, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker or his teammate John Wall would be a difficult decision. While he didn’t earn a nod this season, he’s proven to be one of the better backcourt players in the conference when he’s healthy.
Beal is averaging a career-high 21.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. Beal and Wall have formed one of the best backcourts in the league, and if the Wizards can continue staying relevant in the future, Beal should eventually earn a spot in the All-Star game.
These are just a few of the players that we’ll likely see in the All-Star game one day. While these players made our list, others like Andrew Wiggins, Myles Turner, Hassan Whiteside and C.J. McCollum among others are right there as well. For now, we’ll just have to see these players continue to dominate games and continue to grow.
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