5 players who deserve to be first-time NBA All-Stars
The 2021 NBA All-Star Game may not be cancelled after all. ESPN reported on Monday that the league is considering holding its midseason classic on March 7, with Atlanta emerging as the most likely host city.
Should the showcase take place, fans can expect to see superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo strutting their stuff. They may also be joined by a new face or two as the 2020-21 season has seen the emergence of several dazzling new stars.
We’ve taken stock of the Association’s best and brightest young talent and have selected five players who deserve to be first-time NBA All-Stars.
1. Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
The NBA All-Star Game is made for hyper athletic players like Jaylen Brown who fly down the court at mach speed and throw down thunderous slams with zero regard for human life.
The fifth-year guard ranks seventh in the NBA in scoring at 27.3 points per game and is eighth in offensive win shares and offensive box/plus minus. What does all of that mean? Simply put, Brown is one of the most valuable players in the NBA, and the Celtics thrive when he’s on the court scoring in bunches and putting the clamps on the opposing team’s top perimeter talent.
2. CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)
Surprised to see that CJ McCollum has never made an All-Star team? You should be. The 29-year-old shooting guard has averaged 20 points or more in each of the last six seasons and has ranked in the top 20 in points per game five times since 2016.
McCollum was posting career-high in points (26.7), assists (5.0), and steals (1.3) this season before fracturing his left foot on Jan. 15 in a win against the Atlanta Hawks. He’s expected to be on the shelf for four weeks, but deserves an All-Star nod after years of being unfairly snubbed.
3. Collin Sexton (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Collin Sexton officially kicked off his All-Star campaign on Jan. 20 when he scored a career-high 42 points in Cleveland’s shocking 147-135 double overtime win against the Nets. Then, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he dropped 25 points on Brooklyn two nights later to propel a convincing 12-point victory. The scoring outbursts were especially impressive since they came against the team many are forecasting to win the Eastern Conference.
Sexton has long been a prolific scorer, but he’s also become an efficient one in his third season. The Alabama product is hitting a career-high 50% of his shots from the floor and 46% of his three-point attempts, and is well on his way to becoming one of the most dangerous bucket-getters in the league.
4. Christian Wood (Houston Rockets)
Remember when James Harden was the Rockets’ best player? Those days are long gone thanks to the mega four-team trade that sent the former MVP to the Nets. Houston’s top dog is now the newly acquired Wood, who was shipped to the Rockets on Nov. 24.
The lanky 6’10” forward has already led Houston in scoring six times this season, and is among a select group of players averaging a double-double, with 23.5 points and 10.8 boards per game. Wood likely won’t make fans forget about The Beard, but he is a foundational piece the franchise can build around for the future.
5. Julius Randle (New York Knicks)
Julius Randle was already an incredible physical specimen when he entered the league in 2014. Now, seven years later, he’s also an incredible basketball player. The Kentucky alum has become a dependable scorer, fearless rebounder and, most surprisingly of all, a pretty nifty passer. Randle’s 6.1 dimes per game are a career-high, and demonstrate his impressive development more than any other metric.
The Knicks clearly aren’t going anywhere this season, but it would be nice to see Randle go to the NBA All-Star Game to reward his hard work and continued maturation.
Honorable mention: Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons), Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings)