The best players to never make an NBA All-Star team

Profile Picture: Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy

March 1st, 2021

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game will be played on Mar. 7 in Atlanta, and once again, Mike Conley will be watching from home. The veteran point guard was passed over by voters for the 14th time, despite having the best season of his career for the first-place Utah Jazz.

At 33, this was likely going to be Conley’s last chance to appear in the league’s midseason classic, which is extraordinary when you consider his impressive body of work and the fact he was once the NBA’s highest-paid player.

Conley can at least console himself with the knowledge he isn’t the only top shelf player to be repeatedly snubbed.

Join us now as we examine the best players to never make an NBA All-Star team.

10. Jason Terry

Position: Point Guard
Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks
Years Active: 2000-2018
Accolades: NBA Champion, NBA Sixth Man of the Year, All-Rookie Team

One of the most prolific three-point shooters in NBA history, Jason Terry had the finest season of his career in 2001-02 when he averaged 19.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game for the Hawks. Those totals may have gotten him an invite to All-Star Weekend had he been on a better team, but Atlanta was among the worst clubs in the Eastern Conference, and coaches gave the nod to Ray Allen and Baron Davis instead.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom brings the ball up during a game against the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

9. Lamar Odom

Position: Power Forward
Teams: Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks
Years Active: 2000-2013
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, Sixth Man of the Year, All-Rookie Team

Stretch fours who can lead a break and nail threes may be commonplace now, but they were still a rarity when Lamar Odom broke into the league over two decades ago. The "Candy Man’s" diverse skill set made him a nightmare to guard, and made him the perfect running mate for Kobe Bryant, with whom he won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

Odom's best shot of making an All-Star squad came in his lone season with the Heat in 2003-04, when he averaged 17.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, and was among the league leaders in minutes played and triple-doubles.

8. Toni Kukoc

Position: Small Forward
Teams: Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks
Years Active: 1994-2006
Accolades: 3x NBA Champion, Sixth Man of the Year, All-Rookie Team

Toni Kukoc was finally given a chance to showcase his full range of skills during the 1998-99 season after Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen left Chicago, and he didn’t disappoint. The Croatian sensation averaged 18.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game, and was among the league leaders in minutes per game, assist percentage, and usage percentage.

Unfortunately, Kukoc chose a horrible time to have a career year, as a lockout prevented the league from hosting a mid-season classic that season, thereby robbing him of his best chance of becoming an NBA All-Star.

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San Antonio Spurs small forward Richard Jefferson (24) drives past Dallas Mavericks guard Rodrigue Beaubois (3). (Photo by Albert Pena/Icon Sportswire)

7. Richard Jefferson

Position: Small Forward
Teams: New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets
Years Active: 2002-2018
Accolades: NBA Champions, All-Rookie Team

Few wings were more explosive in their prime than Jefferson, whose speed and athleticism made him nearly unstoppable in the open court. The Arizona alum averaged 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.3. assists from 2004-09, and was a key member of two Eastern Conference championship teams during his time in New Jersey.

6. Cedric Maxwell

Position: Small Forward
Teams: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets
Years Active: 1978-1988
Accolades: 2x NBA Champion, NBA Finals MVP

The Celtics would likely have one less title were it not for Cedric Maxwell, who earned NBA Finals MVP honors in 1981 when he averaged 17.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game against the Houston Rockets. "Cornbread" is still a hero in Beantown because of that series, but his role on the team gradually began to decrease with the arrival of future Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, all of whom cut into his minutes and touches. By the time Maxwell left the Celtics, he was already 30 years old and no longer the same high-energy player he had been in his prime.

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Monta Ellis of the Golden State Warriors watches on during free throws vs. the Sacramento Kings. (Photo by Greg Ashman/Icon Sportswire)

5. Monta Ellis

Position: Shooting Guard
Teams: Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers
Years Active: 2006-2017
Accolades: NBA Most Improved Player

We won’t try to convince you that Monta Ellis was a Hall of Fame talent or MVP-caliber player, but he did enjoy a phenomenal two-year stretch from 2010-11 in which he averaged 24.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game while leading the league both years in minutes played. Unfortunately, that production didn’t win over Western Conference coaches, who picked veteran players like Manu Ginobili and Jason Kidd to fill out their bench instead.

4. John Williamson

Position: Shooting Guard
Teams: New York/New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Bullets
Years Active: 1974-1981
Accolades: 2x ABA Champion

The only player on our list to average over 20 points per game for his career, "Super John" was a two-time ABA champion with a penchant for lighting up the scoreboard. The New Haven native was especially impressive during the 1977-78 season, when he averaged 29.5 points on 45.4% shooting from the floor for the New Jersey Nets.

3. Rod Strickland

Position: Point Guard
NBA teams:
 New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Bullets, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets
Years Active: 1989-2005
Accolades: All-NBA Team, , All-Rookie Team, AST leader

There must be something in the water in New York, because the city has produced some of the finest ball-handlers and passers to ever lace ‘em up. Example No. 1,543 is Rod Strickland, a Bronx-born maestro who led the league in assists in 1997-98, and averaged seven dimes or more per game 10 times.

Strickland came close to being an All-Star in 1995-96, when he averaged 18.7 points and 9.6 assists for the Trail Blazers, but lost his spot to Gary Payton and John Stockton.

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Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams takes a shot in an NBA game. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire)

2. Lou Williams

Position: Shooting Guard
Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers
Years Active: 2006-present
Accolades: 3x Sixth Man of the Year

No player has ever been more productive coming off the bench than Lou Williams, who holds the record for most career points by a reserve in NBA history. Alas, his reputation as a super sub has often worked against him when fans have voted on All-Star Game starters. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner has been passed over 16 times, and is unlikely to see his fortunes change next year when he turns 35.

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Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (3) looks on during a NBA game between the Portland Trailblazers and the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

1. CJ McCollum

Position: Shooting Guard
Team: Portland Trail Blazers
Years Active: 2014-present
Accolades: NBA Most Improved Player

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, but could still become an All-Star in the next few years if he continues to add new wrinkles to his game.