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The Next All-Stars: Pacific Division

David Yapkowitz continues Basketball Insiders’ Next All-Stars series by discussing De’Aaron Fox and others from the Pacific Division.

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Making an NBA All-Star team is tough. There are only 24 spots, 12 in each conference, and with the longevity seen in great players, it’s not uncommon to see most of the same players year after year. Each year though, there may be a surprise here or there. A player just breaks out and has an outstanding year. A team does better than anticipated and the top guy on the team gets the nod. Whatever the reason may be, we sometimes see a player sneak in and unseat a regular.

There’s always the countless arguments too about who got snubbed and who seemingly got in based on reputation and not actual play. This is the NBA, the best of the best, there’s going to be deserving players left off every year.

In our quest here at Basketball Insiders to bring you basketball content at a time when a lot of uncomfortable uncertainty surrounds our daily lives and there is no imminent return of sports on the horizon, we’ve delved into the next possible crop of All-Stars. Here’s a look at some of the players in the Pacific Division who have a shot at donning an All-Star uniform in the near future.

De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

A big summer is on the horizon for Fox and the Kings. He’s going to be entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be eligible for an extension ahead of restricted free agency. He was arguably a borderline All-Star caliber player this season. He’s the franchise guy in Sacramento and is looking at a max contract.

There’s a lot of good point guards in the Western Conference playing at a high level. Stephen Curry will be back healthy. Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard aren’t going anywhere. Chris Paul is showing no signs of slowing down. If you consider Luka Doncic a point guard, he’ll be in the mix for many years to come. Ja Morant is nipping at their heels.

But Fox is showing he is worthy of being thrown into the conversation. He put up 20.4 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting from the field and 6.8 assists. His three-point shooting and his defense should come along as he continues to grow.

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

As mentioned in the Underrated Players collection last week, Ayton arguably had a case for Rookie of the Year last season. When he returned from his suspension this season, he picked up right where he left off. He and Devin Booker have the potential to become the next great guard/big man duo in the league.

Luckily for Ayton, there is a dearth of top talent at the center position across the league. In the West, you’ve got Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns, who both figure to be All-Star regulars. Rudy Gobert is in that mix too. But after that, there’s no reason why Ayton can’t elevate himself into that conversation and snag some All-Star appearances.

Ayton is already a walking double-double and he has made some strides on the defensive end as well. He’s shown better decision making, especially when it comes to making the right pass out the defense. Needless to say, his brimming potential and a good candidate for a future All-Star.

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

After the draft, and especially after the 2018-19 season, the Bagley pick was almost universally slammed in the basketball community. After all, Luka Doncic was there for the taking and the Kings passed.

Unfortunately for Bagley and the Kings, this season was derailed with injuries and he only suited up in 13 games. He had a very good rookie season, however, that saw Bagley put up 14.9 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting and 7.6 rebounds. He’s a very talented low post player who can also put the ball on the floor. He would benefit greatly from an expanded shooting range.

Bagley’s skillset makes him a very intriguing player. He can thrive in today’s NBA with his versatility and if he’s able to play both center and power forward. He has the potential to fit right alongside Fox, better than Doncic would have. The Kings are going to need a big leap from him next season.

Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors

There’s probably going to be a lot of head shaking and scratching with this one. And rightfully so, Wiggins hasn’t exactly been the model for consistency during his career, something that’s usually necessary for an All-Star nod. He will also turn 26 next season, older than the other players on this list.

But nobody on the Warriors roster has more to prove than Wiggins does. On the outside, it appears as if he’ll fit into the Harrison Barnes role. That is, playing off Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green by knocking down open threes and giving the team an athletic finisher at the rim.

Overall, he’s more talented than Barnes and his skillset is a little bit different. Wiggins put up just over 20 points per game during his brief appearance with the Warriors before the season was suspended. Both Curry and Thompson will ease their way back into the lineup. Wiggins has also never played with guards as talented as those two and with motivation, he’ll be in prime position to come out blazing next season.

If he can maintain any consistency, including him on this list might not look too bad.

The big men on this list probably have an easier shot at an All-Star appearance than Fox and, most certainly Wiggins. But Fox is already playing at a near All-Star level, although All-Star nods do not routinely go to players on teams with subpar records. Wiggins, ever the outlier, hasn’t run his course just yet – give him three Hall of Famers and Steve Kerr, then buckle up.

While the basketball world awaits some semblance of normalcy, Basketball Insiders has you covered.

David Yapkowitz has been a staff writer for Basketball Insiders since 2017. Based in Los Angeles, he focuses on the Pacific Division as well as the NBA at large.

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