Being chosen for an All-Star team is a proud achievement in any sport. Some players are superstars right out of the gate. LeBron James was an NBA All-Rookie in his first season and has gone on to play in 12-straight NBA All-Star Games. With guys like him and other perennial All-Stars such as Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony, openings on the NBA Eastern All-Star Team are at a premium. With Kobe Bryant’s retirement, a long-held spot has become vacant out West but the competition is tough. 2016 All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook appears poised to be an All-Star for years to come, as does Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
When there are so many athletes that are worthy of All-Star status, it makes it hard to choose who to select. Names like Paul George, DeMar DeRozen, and the up-and-coming Klay Thompson will be near the top of the list for years to come but there is always room made for that special young star. Kawhi Leonard and Andre Drummond both made their All-Star debuts in 2016. The previous All-Star Game saw Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler in their first appearances and the year before that saw Stephen Curry and John Wall make the cut. There was even room for veteran Paul Millsap to make the team for the first time in his 10-year career.
The NBA always seems to make way for the new blood and the 2017 All-Star Game should be no different. Whether they are veterans or young players, the following list contains the names of players that are on the All-Star bubble. Here are 15 NBAers who could become first time All-Stars in 2017.
15 DeAndre Jordan
The towering 6’11" Clippers center played in 360 straight games before sitting out in January 2016 with pneumonia. At 27-years-old, DeAndre Jordan has been an important piece of the Clippers for the past few years. After almost signing with Dallas before the 2015 season, several Clipper teammates personally visited DeAndre in a last ditch effort to keep the two-time NBA rebound leader in L.A. It worked. Jordan re-signed with the Clippers and he had another great season in which he nearly led the NBA in rebounds per game and became the Clippers’ all-time rebounds leader.
Improving his horrendous free-throw percentage would alter his chances of getting his first All-Star selection in 2017.
14 Serge Ibaka
This seven-year veteran power forward has led the league in blocks while proving that he is an excellent two-way player. Unfortunately, he has some stiff competition in a quest for his first All-Star selection. With perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant out of the picture and the possibility of Kevin Durant playing in the Eastern Conference next season, it is not out of the question that Serge Ibaka would get some long-awaited recognition with an All-Star nod in 2017, especially if Durant leaves and Ibaka gets more touches.
He seems to get better every season and is one player who is deserving of an All-Star selection. If not in 2017, look for Serge to be there soon.
13 Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is a seven-foot rookie center who appears destined to be an impact player in the NBA for years to come. As the first overall draft pick in 2015, there is a lot of pressure on Karl-Anthony but he looked like a seasoned veteran during his first campaign with Minnesota. Barring injury or other unknowns, Towns will participate in an All-Star Game one day soon. The 20-year-old is definitely going to garner some All-Star votes and is a strong candidate to appear in the 2017 All-Star game in Charlotte. It isn’t a question of if he’s ever selected, it’s a matter of when Karl-Anthony Towns is chosen.
12 Andrew Wiggins
The Toronto born first overall pick, Andrew Wiggins, was traded to Minnesota before the start of the 2014 season. He had a memorable year that earned him several Rookie of the Month honors, the Rookie of the Year Award, and a spot on the All-Rookie First-Team.
His second season was every bit as impressive as he upped his average point total to 20.7 PPG and continued to excel at the free-throw line. Like many on this list, Wiggins is the real deal and will make his All-Star debut in the near future. With no members of the Timberwolves on the 2016 All-Star roster, Andrew is a good bet to represent the franchise in the 2017 All-Star Game.
11 Gordon Hayward
Measuring in at 6’8" and weighing 226 pounds, Gordon Hayward is coming off the best campaign of his six-year career. The ninth overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft posted a few career highs and was on the hardwood for an average of over 36 minutes per game. He’s a workhorse who constantly produces but he has never played in an NBA All-Star Game. Coming off a strong 2015/16 season will boost Hayward’s All-Star hopes. While some consider him the victim of a deep list of All-Star candidates, a fast start next season could be the key to getting the recognition that Hayward deserves.
10 Giannis Antetokounmpo
It’s tough to add this guy to the list because his name is so hard to spell, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is as deserving of All-Star consideration as much as many other on this list. In the 2015 season, the 21-year-old became the youngest Milwaukee Buck to score a triple-double. Giannis used his increasing minutes to boost his rebounding and PPG averages. He had one of his strongest games in Milwaukee’s victory over Golden State which snapped their 24 game winning streak. Being so young, Giannis has a lot of time and all the talent needed to play in the All-Star Game.
9 Nerlens Noel
Aside from having one of the coolest names in the NBA, Nerlens Noel is one of the league’s best young talents. Drafted sixth overall by the Hornets at the 2013 Draft but immediately traded to Philadelphia. Nerlens earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team and he has been steadily improving his play. As he quickly develops, Noel’s name is beginning to get mentioned when it comes to All-Stars.
While he still needs a bit of work, Nerlens is the type of player that could really break out next season and find a place in the All-Star Game. He is another young gun with an All-Star future.
8 Mike Conley
Mike Conley was playing some of his best basketball in 2015/16 before a foot injury hampered his season. In his nine-year career, the 28-year-old fourth overall pick of the 2007 Draft has been a steady producer. While his numbers have trended slightly down over the past couple of seasons, Conley is a guy who would look good in an All-Star Game. If his foot can completely recover and Conley can elevate his game going into next season, he could easily draw some All-Star votes. Like any other position, there are a lot of All-Star caliber point guards which makes it hard for a guy like Mike Conley to get over the bubble.
7 J.J. Redick
Another wily veteran who has become a very good player is J.J. Redick. An eleventh overall pick of the Orlando Magic, J.J. has been a member of the L.A. Clippers since 2013. He has been playing the best basketball of his career and has proven to be a guy who produces when given enough minutes. Of course, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul do more than their share which makes it a little harder for him to get noticed.
Redick might be a much longer shot than most on this list, but his contributions should at least put his name in the discussion.
6 Derrick Favors
He’s young, he’s talented, and his production has been rapidly increasing since he entered the league as the third overall pick in 2010. Derrick Favors is one of the most exciting young players in the game today. The 24-year-old power forward has blossomed as a member of the Utah Jazz over the past five years. Derrick and fellow bubble boy Jason Hayward are working hard to get the Jazz back into the playoffs, but it is an uphill battle. It is also an uphill battle to make his first All-Star appearance, but he definitely has the skills to do it.
5 Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal is a 22-year-old up and coming shooting guard who was chosen third overall in 2012. He made the NBA All-Rookie First Team and has progressed tremendously over his first four years. The injury bug has bitten him on a few occasions but he has managed to bounce back well. He needs to stay healthy and be a regular contributor if he wants to lead his Washington Wizards to championship glory and get himself in to the All-Star game. His above average playoff production is an indication of his ability to take his game to the next level. He would be an exciting addition to the 2017 All-Star Team and one would expect the young stud to get some votes.
4 Andrew Bogut
A lot was expected out of Andrew Bogut when the Bucks picked him first overall in 2005. The seven-foot tall center has shown flashes of brilliance but has been often injured. Since being shipped to Golden State in 2012, Bogut has seen a decline in production but his reduced playing time is largely responsible. He only averaged 20.7 minutes per game in 2015 thanks to the depth of the Warriors’ lineup.
Bogut would likely get more minutes on another roster, so this selection is contingent on the Warriors moving on from the big man after this year. His production would increase and fans would get to see what he can really do. The door is closing on Bogut’s All-Star aspirations, but there is still a chance he could luck out and make it in 2017.
3 Nicolas Batum
It’s too bad that a player like Nicolas Batum has never been an All-Star. His workload and production have been high over the past few seasons and he is coming off a fine year in which he led his team in average assists per game. He helped the Charlotte Hornets reach the playoffs where they were once again eliminated in the first round.
The Eastern Conference is loaded with All-Star talent which makes it more challenging to be named to the All-Star team, but there is room. This is especially true for one of the best defensive players in the league. His productive 2015/16 campaign should earn him a good contract in the off-season, as well as give him some All-Star consideration.
2 Reggie Jackson
After being traded from the Thunder to the Pistons in 2014, Reggie Jackson has seen his game reach new levels. He averaged a career high and team leading 18.8 points per game and he is a cornerstone of the Pistons revival. Getting in the way of Reggie getting his first All-Star selection is the sheer volume of equally deserving point guards that play in the Eastern Conference.
If he brings his game up even more next season, there is a possibility that Reggie can get his first All-Star nomination in 2017.
1 Khris Middleton
Along with the aforementioned and hard to spell Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton is one of the league’s best young talents and he is trying to bring success to the Milwaukee Bucks. The 24-year-old second round pick in 2012 had a superb 2015 season in which he led his team with 18.2 PPG. Middleton is a more realistic All-Star candidate of the two young Bucks stars, but they should both be in the running for an All-Star appearance. After his breakthrough 2015 season, Khris is in a great spot to have an even better 2016, which would give him serious consideration at an All-Star nod.