We’ve seen many top NBA players who deserve to make the All-Star Game through the years but didn’t.
With just 24 All-Star slots up for grabs, coaches and the voting public are hard-pressed to make the right choices. However, to the dismay of many, we have seen a good number of deserving players miss the cut. Some have played for so long but have yet to make an All-Star Game.
Worse, there are also retired players who have never made one.
BallerMindFrame.com’s Mike Hammel rattles off several big-name players who have yet to don (or have never donned) an NBA All-Star uniform:
- Rudy Gay- Al Jefferson- Josh Smith- Monta Ellis- Ron Harper- Marcus Camby- Mike Bibby- Derek Harper- Drazen Petrovic- Rod Strickland
For the 2014-15 NBA season, several ballers have served notice they deserve the prestigious nod. It’s just unfortunate they will be left out because other players, even if they haven’t been playing as well, are All-Stars in the eyes of the coaches and online voters.
As much as we’d like to see the likes of Nikola Vucevic, Gordon Hayward or Mike Conley, Jr. represent their respective conferences in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game, there’s a good chance they won’t. It may take both an All-Star-caliber season and a deep playoff run or even an NBA title to help them gain recognition in subsequent years.
For the purposes of this article, we will rate these aspiring All-Stars according to their stats and potential to somehow crack the 2015 NBA All-Star Game in New York City.
Note: Unless otherwise mentioned, all stats are current as of Jan. 13 and are courtesy of ESPN.com.
10 Andre Drummond
2014-15 stats: 12.5 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 0.6 APG
Quick, when was the last time a Detroit Pistons player was named to the All-Star team?
This last happened six seasons ago, when a certain Allen Iverson (who was in his first year in Detroit after he was traded for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess) got the nod, per NBA.com
Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond played under relative scrutiny in his first two pro seasons. When the team released Josh Smith last December, Drummond took center stage in Detroit's recent seven-game winning streak. He averaged 14.4 points and 16.4 rebounds during that tear.
It's just unfortunate Drummond played on really bad Pistons teams during his first two years in the league. Now that Detroit is making a bit of noise, people have slowly taken notice of the athletic big man. However, the Pistons' recent winning ways may not be enough to propel Drummond to his first All-Star game berth.
9 Eric Bledsoe
2014-15 stats: 16.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 6.0 APG
Since agreeing to a lucrative five-year, $70 million deal in September of 2014, Eric Bledose has delivered the goods for the Phoenix Suns.
While he may not be having his best statistical season to date, (his 16.5 points-per-game average is actually a slight drop-off from his 17.7 average a season ago), he has still made an impact with his shooting and leadership skills on the court. He has also recorded two triple-doubles in 2014-15 (27 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 8th and 16 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against the Dallas Mavericks on December 23rd).
With the likes of Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Chris Paul manning the point for their respective teams, Bledsoe is hard-pressed to even be the third point guard of the Western Conference All-Stars in 2015.
Unless the point guard landscape in the West changes drastically any time soon, Bledsoe will find it difficult to lock up his first All-Star Game nod.
8 Goran Dragic
2014-15 stats: 16.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.9 APG
Goran Dragic is another Phoenix Suns point guard who has turned in another solid season worthy of All-Star consideration.
Just like Bledsoe, Dragic's scoring output has dipped (from 20.3 PPG in 2013-14 to 16. 7 PPG in 2014-15) mainly because of Isaiah Thomas' acquisition.
Bleacher Report's Stephen Babb weighed in on Dragic's season in his December 2014 article:
"The Phoenix Suns' addition of Isaiah Thomas in the offseason has predictably robbed Dragic of minutes and touches alike, compounding a situation that already existed to some degree with combo guard Eric Bledsoe doing his share of the handling as well.
He's averaging 16 points and 4.1 assists per contest while making 49.3 percent of his field-goal attempts—an incredibly solid mark given how much of his scoring comes from the perimeter."
Dragic was named the NBA's Most Improved Player and a member of the All-NBA Third Team last season. While those are certainly impressive, his career wouldn't be complete without him becoming an NBA All-Star.
7 Paul Millsap
2014-15 stats: 16.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.1 APG
Who would have thought the Atlanta Hawks would be sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 29-8 record in early January?
The Hawks have made the playoffs in seven straight years, but haven't been able to get past the second round of the playoffs. However, with Paul Millsap as one of the main reasons behind their resurgence, that could all change.
Millsap has always been a smooth low-post operator with a reliable medium-range jumpshot. Opposing defenses can't afford to sag off him, either, as he can also hurt you with his three-point shooting (33.3%).
However, the most impressive aspect of Millsap's game has been his defense. He is averaging 1.8 steals per game, a statistical area usually dominated by much shorter and quicker guards. That tells you something about Millsap's versatility—he's a handful who can do just about anything on the floor.
For that, he should be in the All-Star Game. However, he may just be overshadowed by Chris Bosh and Kevin Love, two guys who play for bigger-market teams.
6 Jeff Teague
2014-15 stats: 17.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.2 APG
Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeff Teague is the classic example of a player who just keeps getting better every year.
Hard evidence of this is his scoring average every year. He broke into the pros in 2009-10 with a 3.2 points-per-game average. This season, it has gone all the way up to 17.4 points per contest.
It's not just his offense. Teague is producing career bests in six more statistical categories: field-goal percentage (.482), offensive rebounds per game (0.5), defensive rebounds per game (2.3), rebounds per game (2.8), assists per game (7.2) and steals per game (1.8).
NBA.com's Fran Blinebury weighed in on Teague's 2014-15 season in his Jan. 8 blog:
"But with the East-leading Hawks demanding attention thanks to 20 wins in their last 22 games, Teague is the hand on the tiller that's put the wind in their sails. In their current six-game winning streak, he's scored at least 20 points every night and adding 7.8 assists a game. Teague and the Hawks are both for real."
Blinebury couldn't have nailed it any better than that. Teague is the main cog in Atlanta's seventh-ranked offense (102.9 PPG). He and Paul Millsap definitely deserve All-Star Game consideration.
5 Nikola Vucevic
2014-15 stats: 18.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.2 APG
Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard have been the most noteworthy centers in Orlando Magic team history. It's time to include Nikola Vucevic in the conversation.
Let's face it: Orlando has been largely irrelevant for the past two seasons. This year, the Magic has a 14-27 record and in danger of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The only positive is that during that span, Vucevic has been making plenty of noise.
From averaging 13.1 points two years ago, Vucevic has upped that to a very respectable 18.8 points per game. He's also very active on the glass, as evidenced by his 11.1 boards per contest.
Vucevic is arguably the best offensive center in the East. He has nifty post moves, a good medium-range jump shot and countless hustle buckets. He's like a quicker version of Rik Smits or Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
There's nothing fancy about Vucevic's game. But make no mistake about it, if there's a time for him to finally become an All-Star, it's now.
4 Tobias Harris
2014-15 stats: 18.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.0 APG
The trend of teammates who are supposed to be NBA All-Stars this season continues. There's the Eric Bledsoe-Goran Dragic backcourt tandem for the Phoenix Suns and the Atlanta Hawks' "Mutt and Jeff" combination of Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap.
And then there's the Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris.
Harris, in particular, has taken on a more of the scoring load since Arron Afflalo returned to the Denver Nuggets in the offseason. Harris is enjoying a career year in points (18.0), field-goal percentage (.471), three-point percentage (.405) and steals (1.1). He has a nice-looking jump shot to complement his ability to take the ball to the hoop.
Vucevic is all praises for Harris in a Dec. 14 interview with The Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins:
"He plays with a lot of confidence. That comes from him working so hard. He put a lot of time in this summer to improve his game, and he did. Every day, you'd see him work out and try to get better, and it shows on the court."
Harris is set to become a restricted free agent once the season draws to a close. Should he somehow make the Eastern Conference All-Star team, expect his stock to soar even higher.
3 Mike Conley
2014-15 stats: 18.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.2 APG
Mike Conley, just like his Eastern Conference counterpart Jeff Teague, is yet another player who has gotten better almost every year.
It was just two seasons ago when Conley's Grizzlies were in the Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately, they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Conley was a steady force during that season's playoffs, averaging 17.0 points and 7.1 assists per game. Now, he's gained more experience and is ready to lead Memphis to the promised land.
Conley has certainly stated his case for an All-Star berth this season: He "is one of just five players to record multiple games with double-digit points and rebounds and multiple games of double-digit points and assists," per Grizzlies.com's Gabrielle Leon. Those four other players are LeBron James, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and Reggie Jackson.
Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph explains to Leon why Conley is a top-tier point guard:
"It's definitely confidence. He has confidence in his shot; he puts a lot of work in. He worked all summer, worked on his body. Now I tell him, 'We play against the Chris Pauls and the Deron Williams, he's Mike Conley,' right up there with those guys. That's what he proves, that's what he shows night in and night out."
Nobody can definitely argue with that.
2 Gordon Hayward
2014-15 stats: 18.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.1 APG
Just like the Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic (who agreed to a four-year, $53 million deal with the Magic in October of 2014), the Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward has made it known in no uncertain terms that he should be an All-Star after locking up a lucrative deal with his team.
Hayward, who became a restricted free agent last summer, is still with the Jazz after the team matched a four-year, $63 million offer dangled by Michael Jordan and his Charlotte Hornets last July. He has proven he's the hot commodity he is by leading the Jazz in scoring with an 18.9 points-per-game average.
More than that, his 4.1 assists per game places him fourth among the league's small forwards. That being said, Hayward is today's version of Detlef Schrempf. Through the years, the Jazz's All-Star delegation was normally comprised of John Stockton and Karl Malone. The last All-Star they had was Deron Williams back in 2010-11.
It's about time that drought comes to an end with Gordon Hayward as the Jazz's next bona fide All-Star.
1 Monta Ellis
2014-15 stats: 20.6 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 4.5 APG
While 17-year NBA veteran Dirk Nowitzki is still without question the face of the Dallas Mavericks, Monta Ellis could take his place once he retires.
Nowitzki and Ellis have switched places in Dallas' scoring hierarchy in 2014-15. Ellis is the Mavs' top scorer with an average of 20.6 points per contest.
NBA.com's Fran Blinebury stresses there's no reason for Ellis not to be an All-Star this season:
"After all those seasons of beating him up for his horrible shot selection, don't you have to give Ellis credit for learning to be more selective and yet losing nothing in terms of production? He's been more than happy to settle in as the top gun in Dallas that has allowed 36-year-old Dirk Nowtizki not carry so much of the burden.
After a slow start, the Mavs have put themselves into the race for a top four seed with Ellis pulling the trigger. As Nowitzki keeps getting headlines for his climb up the all-time scoring list and might get lifetime achievement votes from the coaches, the little firecracker has earned a look."
And why not? Ellis , an 10-year veteran who has played in just three postseasons, deserves another crack at the playoffs. While the high octane Mavericks are in a position to go on a deep playoff run, Ellis will remember 2014-15 all the more if he is given serious All-Star consideration.