Who Will Be First Time All-Stars In 2019-20?
Ah, yes, I remember my first time.
If you just read that opening sentence, it means that my editors are doing one of two things. Option A: I have worn them down so much that they just decided to let me run rampant with these blogs. Option B: Someone isn't doing their job. Regardless, let's jump head first into the discussion. Which players can reach their first All-Star game this year?
The best way to approach this is to consider who may not be participating in the festivities next year. D'Angelo Russell and Kawhi Leonard shifted coasts, opting to play in a state named after raisins and according to Tupac, love. Kevin Durant would have replaced Leonard's spot but his achilles doesn't feel like playing basketball right now.
Other names to consider are Kyle Lowry and Kris Middleton. The Raptors could really struggle next year but, would that team send emerging star Pascal Siakam to the game and not ambassador? Hard to imagine a scenario in which that happens but it is possible. Middleton has been so underrated that he may not be overrated. This season could he take a step back in not talent but, fan perception? Again, it is a possibility.
As of now, let's roll with the idea of two spots becoming available. The forward position will like come down to two candidates (for first time honorees.) Jayson Tatum comes to mind. This summer Tatum appeared to have heeded the advice of literally everyone everywhere and attack the rim more. If he can get to the line between five and six times a game while helping his team outperform expectations, then Tatum could be making his first appearance.
Siakam is the likelier candidate, however. While he does not possess the ceiling of Tatum, Siakam is more All-Star ready right now. The Raptors could gut out an underdog season with Siakam taking center stage in the absence of Leonard. It seems like he could be his successor Succession. Let's pencil in Siakam and concurrently my future angry tweet of "So, we just gonna act like Tatum isn't an All-Star now?"
There is a guard spot up for grabs, too. I considered Josh Richardson for this position yet, this would likely mean he would have surpassed Tobias Harris as the Sixers third nominee. Is that going to happen? If the Sixers are leading the East at the time of the break, which I predict them to be doing, then this may not be far fetched. Richardson would have to make a significant leap in his shooting numbers, however.
But, wouldn't it be sweet if Richardson stopped Jimmy Butler from making the big game? Although Butler will probably take the guard spot, it is fun to ponder such things. If not Richardson at this position, consider names like Trae Young, Caris LeVert and even the stupidly efficient Malcolm Brogdon. As of writing, though, expect only one new addition to the 2019-2020 East representatives.
The West has one guaranteed replaced and that will be a guard who takes the place of the injured Klay Thompson. This debate will surely be fun as the game grows nearer. There are four major candidates to consider, CJ McCollum, Luka Doncic, Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell. Which one has the best odds?
Over the last three seasons only five players have averaged at least 21 points per game while shooting a minimum of 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep. On that list is Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyrie Irving and McCollum. If Portland finds a way to be a top team in the loaded West, McCollum could finally get his nod.
Doncic and Murray are two other candidates worth discussing. Doncic is someone who could get major fan votes by overseas stans and domestic hoopers who love his highlights. Plus, the man is talented enough to have the Mavericks contending for one of the last Western Conference playoff seeds. Still, both Doncic and Murray may have to wait a couple years until some older players get outed and I can finally release a piece in the drafts titled, "The Changing of the Guards."
This brings us to Utah's Mitchell. My affinity for Mitchell is well known. Earlier this year I predicted he could contend for a top-five finish in the MVP voting. This would almost ensure he was an All-Star as well. The case for Spida? The Jazz made some major roster upgrades and are one of my favorites to finish as a top three seed. How could they not have a representative? Mitchell showed his top tier potential after last year's break, putting up Wade level numbers. If he comes even somewhat close to that type of play, Mitchell will be beating teammate Mike Conley in the race to make an All-Star appearance.
So, what is my best guess? Siakam and Mitchell make the coveted exhibition contest. Apologies go out to everyone from Tatum to Murray and others I considered but did not mention, such as Aaron Gordon and John Collins. Debating is the best part of this, however, so who do you think will get the vacant spots?