Well, we’re a whole 3 weeks into the NBA season, about 8% through. More than enough time to prognosticate upon who will be representing their teams in the NBA All Star game next February in Chicago.
Now, not everyone will get to be an all star. Disappointing to all the participation trophy givers and receivers out there. But this is a designation that requires hard work, sacrifice, extreme skill, and a bit of luck sometimes.
A quick scan of the Western Conference shows 38 names that warrant at least some level of consideration. So before we get to who makes the cut, lets review some of the names that will be bandied about before settling upon the final roster.
THE HONORABLE MENTIONS, AKA, PLAYERS WHOSE FANBASES WILL GO APE SHIT WHEN THEY DON’T MAKE IT:
Kristaps Porzingis – Post – Dallas Mavericks
The young Latvian has shown that Donnie Nelson was shrewd to make a move for him when he did. Porzingis will be an all star in the West. Just not this year.
Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – Combo Guards – Denver Nuggets
Both are very good players, and part of the Nuggets superb depth and balance. But neither has risen to the level of NBA All Star, especially in the hyper-competitive western conference.
Lou Williams – Wing – Los Angeles Clippers
The all time great 6th man should get consideration as a lifetime achievement award type nod. And while he may get that consideration, its the actual nod he won’t get.
Montrezl Harrell – Post – Los Angeles Clippers
Williams’ own teammate may give him a run for his money as 6th man of the year. Harrell has seen most of his minutes this year off the bench for Doc Rivers, and is averaging around 21 points and 7 boards while bringing that energy you love to see from your reserves.
Rudy Gobert – Post – Utah Jazz
The toughest omission for the West, the Frenchman is a superior defender, and a capable scorer. Its not a matter of saying that he isn’t an all star, its a question of, who do you leave off?
Bojan Bogdanovic – Wing – Utah Jazz
The Jazz went out and found themselves a better version of Joe Ingles. The Croatian wing has become the secondary scorer that many expected Mike Conley to be. Certainly worthy of consideration, but not quite up to the standard needed.
Clint Capela – Post – Houston Rockets
Another example of a fine player worthy of having his name thrown into the mix out of respect. But also clearly a cut below what it takes to make this squad. We thank you coming to the party Clint, but its time for you to go home.
DeMar DeRozan – Wing – San Antonio Spurs
The best player on a Greg Popovich team, it feels wrong to leave him off. But there simply isn’t room. He’s an all star player without an all star roster spot.
DeJounte Murray – Ball Handler – San Antonio Spurs
The versatile two way player is an up and comer, and another late first find for the adept Spurs scouting department. Not anywhere near the level needed to be in the discussion for a western conference all star point guard, but keep an eye on this young talent.
Andrew Wiggins – Wing – Minnesota Timberwolves
Wiggins name is on here simply for the box score fantasy basketball crowd. He puts up all star worthy numbers, and you’d insist upon being on this list. Until you actually watch him play. A player who stockpiles hollow numbers, isn’t really a viable consideration.
CJ McCullum – Ball Handler – Portland Trailblazers
Another victim of a numbers crunch. McCullum gets overshadowed by his flashier, more famous backcourt mate. But make no mistake, CJ will be a worthy all star member whenever he eventually makes it.
Shai Gilgeous Alexander – Ball Handler – Oklahoma City Thunder
The centerpiece of the trade that sent Paul George home to L.A., Gilgeous Alexander has continued his emergence in the mid-west. A no-brainer future all star, the future is not here yet.
Danilo Gallinari – Wing – Oklahoma City Thunder
The haul Sam Presti got for Paul George wasn’t exactly bad. Gallinari is an upscale stretch four averaging over 20 points a game. He’s consistent, he puts up numbers, and is a leader on his team. But he’s just a level below all star.
Chris Paul – Ball Handler – Oklahoma City Thunder
An all time great point guard. Chris Paul’s inclusion on an all star team this year would be an emeritus position. Unless we’re talking a Dwyane Wade/Dirk Nowitzki farewell tour appearance, you won’t see CP3 on another all star team.
Ja Morant – Ball Handler – Memphis Grizzlies
A strong early contender for Rookie of Year, especially with Zion out to start the year. Morant will shine all star weekend this year, but it’ll be in the rookie-sophomore game.
Steph Curry – Ball Handler – Golden State Warriors
Steph will still get a large portion of the fan vote, mostly because fans are dumb. His return will likely come right around the all star break, meaning he’ll have missed all but less than a handful of games this season. That won’t stop people from saying the showman sharpshooter deserves a spot.
D’Angelo Russell – Ball Handler – Golden State Warriors
DLo would sure be a welcome all star member, he can run the social media for the squad, giving fans a real snapchat locker room experience. Russell will be sure to have some nice scoring numbers for the suddenly tanking Warriors. But he’s no real threat to take a spot from a more worthy performer.
Draymond Green – Post – Golden State Warriors
Draymond’s impact should hover around low level triple double numbers this season, along with his usual defensive prowess. But he won’t rise to all star level status. Not this year.
Eric Paschall – Forward – Golden State Warriors
Okay, this one is a bit tongue in cheek. Still though, the 41st pick in June’s draft has already shown his value, and that he has a bright future in this league. There is a vacuum left in Golden State, and he is currently doing his best to fill that.
De’Aaron Fox – Ball Handler – Sacramento Kings
One of, if not the quickest guards in the league, this sparkplug is part of the next wave of stars in the league. But as of right now, its still the next wave, not the current one. The fact that the Kings have stumbled out of the gates this year doesn’t help.
Buddy Hield – Wing – Sacramento Kings
If he played for the Lakers, or the Knicks, or the Celtics, he may already be an all star. Instead he’s roamed the perimeter in New Orleans and now Sacramento. He can score in bunches, and he can score from deep. He belongs in any conversation about the best scorers in the league.
Harrison Barnes – Wing – Sacramento Kings
Barnes is a consistently above average player. A perfect #3 if you have a dynamic duo. And with time, he may be the #4 man in Sacramento (Marvin Bagley should eventually rise to the top of their food chain). Though he isn’t an all star, he’s not that far away.
Brandon Ingram – Wing – New Orleans Pelicans
Ingram has certainly made a leap thus far in the season, taking the reigns as the go to scorer in the bayou. But he made the mistake of playing in the west, and in the west, you’ve gotta pay your dues before they let you play in any reindeer games. If he can maintain his current pace, he won’t have any down time next February.
Jrue Holiday – Combo Guard – New Orleans Pelicans
He’s been nicked up to start the year, but make no mistake, Holiday is a high level player. Unfortunately he’s probably the 8th or 9th best point guard in the West. A designation that won’t see him named an all star anytime soon.
Zion Williamson – Forward – New Orleans Pelicans
Zion has played exactly as many real NBA game minutes as you or I, zero. But the high flying rookie will still garner votes just because the all star game is an exhibition, and people want to see the man-child perform. At this point, there is nothing, other than potential, to lead anyone to say he should be an all star, but since when does common sense factor into anything in 2019?
So now that we’ve gone over 26 names who won’t be participating in the big boy all star game later this season, how about taking a look into our crystal ball to see who will be there!
YOU’RE 2019-2020 WESTERN CONFERENCE NBA ALL STARS:
Anthony Davis – Post – Los Angeles Lakers
Davis joins a long, illustrious lineage of Laker post players. From George Mikan to Pau Gasol, the Lakers have a history of cherry picking the best post players around and making them their own. Davis, assuming health in February, is a no brainer.
Karl Anthony Towns – Post – Minnesota Timberwolves
After over a year of rumors about Anthony Davis’ future, of when, and to whom will Davis be traded after seeing his talents wasted in New Orleans, that is all finally over. Well folks, it seems likely that Karl Anthony Towns is poised to replace Davis at the top of the rumor mill. That shouldn’t distract him from firmly asserting himself as an all star.
Kawhi Leonard – Forward – Los Angeles Clippers
The reigning Finals MVP will hopefully be able to squeeze the game into his “load management” schedule. One of the top handful of players in the league the 2 way dynamo is an all star game starter
Lebron James – Forward – Los Angeles Lakers
The back and forth between James and Leonard for the hearts of Los Angeles will continue all season. But for one night, it’ll be a joy to watch them play together. Following a subpar season last year, it feels like Lebron is on a mission. An all star game MVP this year wouldn’t be a shock.
James Harden – Combo Guard – Houston Rockets
Harden could average close to 40 this year. His bag of tricks and gimmicks to get himself in position to get buckets continues to expand. Have no fear, the beard will be here when the teams are announced.
Luka Doncic – Ball Handler – Dallas Mavericks
The Slovenian Sophomore Sensation was born for this world class exhibition game. The kid, as skilled as he is, just has a flare for showmanship. He’ll forever be linked with his Atlanta counterpart Trae Young thanks to a draft night trade. They should square off in this game for the next decade.
Nikola Jokic – Post – Denver Nuggets
Watching the Joker play now feels like what it would have looked like to see Arvydas Sabonis playing in the league in his prime. Uber-skilled, Jokic is the best player on one of the best squads in the west.
Donovan Mitchell – Ball Handler – Utah Jazz
Its so tough to separate from the pack when it comes to Western Conference ball handlers. That being said, now that Mitchell has been given the chance to play a lot more off the ball, he should cement himself as belonging in this group. He’s paid his dues, its time this year.
Paul George – Wing – Los Angeles Clippers
At this point, its a stretch, simply because it was just the end of this week that George started to even practice, let alone consider playing in a game. That being said, its super early, and his absence now will long have been forgotten when voting is heating up in January. Undoubtedly George is one of the top players in the league.
Russell Westbrook – Ball Handler – Houston Rockets
Westbrook is a walking, talking, dribbling triple double. His move to Houston hasn’t changed that. The way this experiment has gone in the early going doesn’t speak well for the Rockets lifting off in the playoffs, but it won’t diminish the odds of Westbrook making this squad.
Damien Lilliard – Ball Handler – Portland Trailblazers
Another ball handler? Yeah, the league is loaded with them. It seems like if you don’t have an all star quality point guard then you’re just not trying. Dame Lilliard can make an argument for being the best of the bunch on any given night. He spent too many seasons knocking on the door to be let into this game to give up his spot now.
Devin Booker – Wing – Phoenix Suns
The Suns are the feel good story of the young season as they’ve jumped light years ahead in the development. Obviously all credit goes to Aron Baynes, but still Booker is their best player and a world class scorer. Now that the team is playing competitive basketball, the casual fans may realize just how good this kid is.
- Written by Jason Sullivan
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