A new NBA seasons means a fresh start for every player, however, every season we see familiar faces selected to the All-Star Game. While there are some guarantees to make the annual event, like LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant to name a few, there will always be a few new faces.
Sometimes a new face is exactly what we expected because they may have received the short end of the stick the prior season. Other times, a player 'comes out of nowhere' and we are surprised to see them selected as an All-Star.
While there is a lot of talent in the NBA, there are only 12 roster spots for the Eastern Conference All-Star's and 12 roster spots for the Western Conference All-Stars. In order to make the leap from a 'B-type' star to a NBA All-Star, a player not only needs to have a phenomenal season but they'd also have to overtake the prior year's All-Star, while simultaneously outperforming other viable candidates.
It's just a few weeks into the regular season, but we've already seen the emergence of several All-Star candidates that may surprise you. Here are the 8 possible surprise All-Stars from the East and 8 From the West:
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18 EAST: GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO
Giannis Antetokounmpo was drafted in 2013 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks and is still a Buck today. He has the height of a centre at 6'11 but plays point guard. He is without a doubt a new breed of player and is proving to the league he is a premier guard.
Known as the Greek-Freak, he's having a fantastic year, averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2 steals, and 2.2 blocks per game. He is absolutely filling the stat sheet and if you are a fantasy basketball player, you probably saw him go in the first round because of his ability to be so well rounded.
He's also shooting extremely efficient, at 49.3 percent from the field and 78.6 percent from the free throw line. He's also attempting 6.5 free throws a game. There is no doubt that he is one of the league's most versatile players.
17 WEST: KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS
Karl-Anthony Towns is in just second year of the NBA and was selected first overall in the 2015 NBA Entry Draft. The 7'0 Center made an immediate impact and won the Rookie of the Year.
This season he continues to impress and although he isn't quite as efficient overall, his early season stats are tough to ignore. He's averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. He's shooting 50.1/72.6/42.6 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
We would expect his efficiency to improve since it's down from last season but it's incredible to believe that his current efficiency isn't his career best already. The former Rookie of the Year should definitely be in the discussion for the All-Star game. Although it wouldn't necessarily be a surprise that he's in the discussion, it would be surprising that he beats out Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
16 EAST: KEMBA WALKER
Kemba Walker was drafted in 2011 in the first round, ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, who are now the Hornets.
He's only played for Michael Jordan's team throughout his career and we've seen steady growth in his abilities. He's undoubtedly one of the best guards in the league and has several clutch shots on his resume but he's never been selected as an NBA All-Star.
This could be the year for the 6'1 point guard because he's averaging 24.8 points per game along with 3.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He also turns the ball over just 1.7 times per game and is shooting an extremely efficient 47.6/81.7/43.8 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line. These stats are not only the best of his career but impressive for any point guard in the league.
15 WEST: MIKE CONLEY
Mike Conley is a veteran of many NBA seasons. He was originally drafted in 2007, fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and he has spent his entire career in Memphis. After signing an enormous contract during this recent offseason, it was arguable that he was overpaid.
However, he's shown early on that he is earning his big pay day. He's having a career season so far by averaging 19.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. The key statistic is his points per game, which is a career high.
The most impressive statistic from the Arizona native is his three point shooting though, he is shooting 48.7% from the free throw line. His free throw percentage is also up to 88 percent which is a career best thus far.
It was surprising when he got paid this off-season but maybe the point guard can surprise us with an All-Star selection too.
14 EAST: HASSAN WHITESIDE
Hassan Whiteside wasn't even an NBA player just three seasons ago but during the 2014-15 season, he got a second chance and did not disappoint.
He is a rebounding and blocking machine but is now also scoring with the best of them. He's averaging 17.9 points per game while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. Despite how efficient he is scoring, the most impressive stats are his 2.6 blocks per game and unprecedented 15.4 rebounds per game.
The seven foot beast is the Miami Heats' franchise player since the departure of Dwayne Wade and the injury to Chris Bosh. There is no doubt with rebounding and blocking stats like that, he should be in the All-Star discussion.
13 WEST: C.J. MCCOLLUM
C.J. McCollum is in his fourth NBA season after being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2013, tenth overall. Last season was his breakout season and this season he's even better.
Last year he averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.2 steals per game while shooting 44.8/82.7/41.7 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line. Although those numbers are impressive enough to be in the All-Star discussion, this season he should definitely be considered. This year he is averaging 21.9/4/3.4/1.2 steals per game while shooting 47.3/89.8/44.6 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
There is no doubt that the guard combination of McCollum and Damian Lillard are one of the league's best, while the 6'3 duo should both be considered for an All-Star selection, with McCollum being the possible surprise selection.
12 EAST: KRISTAPS PORZINGIS
Kristaps Porzingis was drafted just last year in 2015 and was selected fourth overall. The fans of New York were extremely disappointed with this selection, booing Kristaps upon selection. Social media went nuts in a negative way but just shortly after, fans of the Knicks were on the Kristaps boat.
Now, just into his second season, the lanky 7'3 forward-center is not only showing incredible promise, but he should be in the All-Star discussion.
The Latvian native is averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. On a team full of ball hogs, it's incredible he's been able to take 15.5 shot attempts per game. He's been able to shoot very efficiently at 50.2/78/39 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
His excellent play doesn't come to a surprise but I don't think anyone expected him to perform this well, considering Carmelo Anthony and Derek Rose love to shoot the ball a lot.
11 WEST: RUDY GAY
Rudy Gay has bounced around from team to team, struggling to stabilize in one place. Even this season, there are whispers of him being traded. However, at the age of 30, he is having the best season of his career.
Rudy's been known to put the ball in the basket during his 11 year career but he's never done it this efficiently. He's also never been selected to an All-Star game, despite his impressive numbers. Understandably so, since he's always been just short of those that have been selected.
However, you can't ignore his 20.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 steals and one block per game. Even more importantly, you can't ignore his efficiency, shooting 47.4/82.3/42.9 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
It's likely he misses out again like he does every year but it would be quite the surprise if Rudy were to be selected to his first All-Star game after 11 seasons.
10 EAST: AVERY BRADLEY
Avery Bradley is now entering his seventh NBA season and has never been seen as All-Star material, although definitely one of the better players in the NBA. However, his early season numbers are hard to ignore.
He plays for the Boston Celtics, which means he isn't the first option with Isaiah Thomas being the go-to guy. Despite that, he's managed to average 17.9 points per game but what's even more impressive are his rebounding numbers at eight rebounds per game. Where did this even come from? He's just 6-2 and his previous career best was 3.8 rebounds per game.
He's also shooting extremely efficient, at 46.4/73.1/37.8 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line and adds 1.2 steals per game. As the season progresses, if he is able to sustain or even improve on these statistics, it'll be hard to ignore him in the All-Star conversation.
9 WEST: GEORGE HILL
George Hill was drafted way back in 2008 by the San Antonio Spurs. He was an excellent role player for the Spurs over three seasons and did the same for the Indiana Pacers over five seasons. He's now on the Utah Jazz and is having an incredible season.
With early season injuries to Derrick Favours and Gordon Hayward, George Hill was given a chance for some serious run and he came out running big. He's averaged 20.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He's doing it while shooting an unbelievable 55/85.7/44.2 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
Throughout his career, it always appeared that the 6'3 guard was capable of playing this way but always played in the shadows of other stars. This season he finally got his opportunity and he has shined. Now, we can't ignore these incredible stats from the All-Star discussion, should he be able to sustain.
7 EAST: JABARI PARKER
Jabari Parker was selected second overall in 2014 by the Milwaukee Bucks and was drafted with high hopes.
In his first year in the league, he averaged a respectable 12.3 points per game. In his second year, he averaged 14.1 points per game. Now in his third year, he's exploded and is averaging 19.7 points per game. He also grabs 6.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
The 6'8 forward is having a breakout season with Khris Middleton on the shelf with an injury. He is showing a lot of promise and is extremely efficient at 46.3/81.1/38.5 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
With Middleton expected to be out until the last quarter of the season, Parker has been given an opportunity to shine and he is demonstrating that he just might be considered for an All-Star selection.
5 WEST: ANDREW WIGGINS
Andrew Wiggins was drafted first overall in 2014 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love before ever playing a game. The Canadian native is having a breakout season and although he is an excellent player, his current stats are incredible and surprising.
He's gone from averaging 16.9 points in his rookie year, to 20.7 in his second year, and now 23.9 points per game this season. He's essentially playing the same amount of minutes as last season at 36 minutes per game but his three point percentage is all the way up from 30 percent to 41.8 percent.
One of his best traits is his ability to get to the free throw line, which he is now doing 8.1 times per game. He's turned himself into an elite NBA scorer and is the leading scorer on the up and coming Minnesota Timberwolves. It would be a pleasant surprise to see him get selected to the All-Star game.
4 EAST: MYLES TURNER
Myles Turner was drafted in 2015, 11th overall by the Indiana Pacers. At the ripe age of 20, he's been turning heads since late last season.
He plays behind several players, including Paul George, Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, so he's sometimes overshadowed. However, if you've been paying close attention, this kid can really ball. He attempts just 10.1 shots per game but is averaging 14.5 points per game at 53.6 percent from the field. Although that number isn't enough to be an all-star, his playing time may increase as the season progresses from his current 28:55 minutes per game.
The 6'11 Forward-Center averages 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game. He also shoots 78.1 percent from the free throw line, which is very impressive for a big man. These stats on under 30 minutes a game are hard to ignore, so you may be surprised by Turner as we approach February.
3 WEST: ZACH LAVINE
Zach Lavine was drafted in 2014, 13th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The reigning two time Slam Dunk Champion is demonstrating he can do more than just dunk. He is likely to participate in the All-Star Weekend as a dunk contest entrant again but he may even be playing in the game if he continues to play the way he has been.
He's averaging 19 points, three rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game early on this season. Even more impressive is his efficiency at 44.9/87.5/39.1 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line. Although these numbers aren't quite as impressive as some of the other candidates, his 19 points per game this season may surprise many.
He's definitely making a case for himself, especially since there are a lot of eyes on him already for his incredible dunking ability. It may be fun to have him in the actual game, where fans would surely go wild on the potential dunks they could see.
2 EAST: JOEL EMBIID
Joel Embiid was selected third overall in 2014 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He's been said to be "the real deal" and has impressed many people with his game early on in his short career.
He's playing in just his first NBA season and is resting quite a bit with a minute restriction but he's making a lot of noise despite the lack of playing time. He's averaging just 22.6 minutes per game but is putting up 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He's also doing it extremely efficiently at 48.5/77.8/46.2 percent from the field/free throw line/three point line.
The 7'0, 22 year old seems to be able to do it all and has a very impressive player efficiency rating of 23. Just imagine how many points, rebounds and blocks he would get if he played 35 minutes per game. By the time February rolls around, he may not only be in the Rookie of the Year discussion, but also in the All-Star discussion.
1 WEST: HARRISON BARNES
Harrison Barnes was drafted in 2012 by the Golden State Warriors. As a Warrior, he played in the shadows of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson but even his own ex-teammates always talked big about the 6'8 forward. They called him unselfish and stated he could be a franchise player on another team.
Well, he is now on another team and indeed, he is showing the NBA world his capabilities. The Dallas Mavericks are in dead last with just two wins and 12 losses, while battling injuries but the one positive has been Barnes' performance.
He's averaging 21.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. He's also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 86.2 percent from the free throw line.
Despite his former teammates talking big about Harrison's game, it's still surprising to see him do this well so quickly. He just might surprise fans with an All-Star appearance.
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