Being selected as an NBA All-Star is one of the highest honors a professional basketball player can attain, and as such, when a player makes their All-Star debut, it is seen as a huge deal by the player, his team and his fans.
There are a lot of players making strong cases to make the All-Star for the first time, so we decided to rank the 14 guys we believe have the best chances to earn that distinction this season.
Check it out below.
Anthony Edwards (Minnesota)
2021-22 stats: 22.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.6 spg, 44.3 FG%
After a slow start to his rookie campaign, Anthony Edwards has spent the last season-and-a-half proving why he was the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft, looking like the NBA’s next big thing at the 2-guard position.
Edwards can do it all on a basketball court, scoring from all three levels, rebounding and distributing well for an off-ball guard and having the ability to throw down monster dunks both in transition and the half-court.
The former Georgia standout has also seen his efficiency blow up after the advanced metrics rated his rookie season poorly. Now, he ranks 39th in VORP, 48th in BPM and 60th in BPM.
For the latest Anthony Edwards rumors, click here.
Tyler Herro (Miami)
2021-22 stats: 20.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.6 3PTM, 43.0 FG%
Another player in the crop of the NBA’s young, promising 2-guards is the Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro, who comes up next on our ranking.
Granted, Edwards is a more productive player than Herro and has a higher ceiling, but we ranked Herro one place higher on this list solely due to the fact that the backcourt competition to receive All-Star honors this season won’t be as strong in the East as it will be in the West.
Regardless, Herro is having a fantastic season for Miami, looking like one of the favorites to win Sixth Man of the Year nearly halfway through the campaign after an up-and-down sophomore campaign last year.
Even with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo missing a lot of time due to injury, the Heat still sit No. 3 in the East at 27-16 and No. 5 league-wide in net rating. Herro’s scoring – primarily as a pull-up shooter – and playmaking off the bench have been a huge reason for that.
For the latest Tyler Herro rumors, click here.
Jonas Valanciunas (New Orleans)
2021-22 stats: 18.4 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.9 bpg, 52.2 FG%
One of the league’s burliest big men, with a throwback post-up game and blossoming outside shooting touch, Jonas Valanciunas has been one of the Western Conference’s top centers all season long.
Not only is Valanciunas still a double-double machine with underrated playmaking ability and a bruising post-up game, as well as elite screen-setting toughness, but he’s also knocking down 43.0 percent of his three-point attempts in 2021-22, by far a career-high rate of success.
Valanciunas ranks 46th in VORP this season and 42nd in WS/48, and whoever has watched the New Orleans Pelicans this season can attest to this fact: The big Lithuanian should no longer be slept on as a top NBA big man.
For the latest Jonas Valanciunas rumors, click here.
Desmond Bane (Memphis)
2021-22 stats: 17.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 42.0 3PT%
The steal of the 2020 draft, Desmond Bane has made the Memphis Grizzlies front office look like geniuses for selecting him with the final pick of the first round that year, as even in Year-2 Bane looks like an elite role player and one of the top outside shooters in the NBA.
Since his arrival to the Association, Bane ranks seventh league-wide in three-point percentage (minimum: 200 outside shot attempts), knocking down 42.5 percent of his looks from there, a higher rate than the likes of Joe Ingles and Wayne Ellington, excellent shooters in their own right.
What’s more, according to Synergy Sports, Bane ranks in the league’s 85th percentile this season as a spot-up shooter, in the excellent range, producing 1.185 PPP on such opportunities.
Bane is more than just a spot-up outside shooter, too, showing a lot of promise as a driver to the basket and as a pull-up shooter off the dribble.
The Grizzlies have a real gem on their hands.
For the latest Desmond Bane rumors, click here.
Andrew Wiggins (Golden State)
2021-22 stats: 18.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 3PTM, 42.3 3PT%
No longer tasked with the expectations of having to carry a franchise behind the burden of being a former No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggins has thrived in a more complementary role as a member of the Golden State Warriors, especially this season.
Wiggins is setting career-high marks in 2021-22 in VORP (1.1), BPM (1.7) and WS/48 (0.144), in large part thanks to his much-improved shooting ability, as the Canadian swingman is posting a career-best 59.3 true shooting percentage.
Despite a late dip in form, Golden State has looked the part of a legitimate title threat this season, and that wouldn’t be the case without Wiggins’ off-ball production as a slasher and one-on-one scoring ability.
For the latest Andrew Wiggins rumors, click here.
Miles Bridges (Charlotte)
2021-22 stats: 20.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 48.0 FG%
Charlotte Hornets swingman Miles Bridges has been one of this season’s breakout players, setting career-high marks in nightly points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
He’s doing so with solid efficiency, too, as Synergy ranks Bridges as a very good scorer in overall offense. The former Michigan State standout is at his best as the pick-and-roll ball-handler (0.942 PPP) and as the pick-and-roll roll man (1.316 PPP), both in the very good range as well.
Bridges excelling in those two play types shows what a versatile player the swingman has blossomed into as a member of the Hornets, one who can do a bit of everything while throwing down some of the most exciting dunks in the NBA at the moment.
For the latest Miles Bridges rumors, click here.
Deandre Ayton (Phoenix)
2021-22 stats: 16.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.8 bpg, 63.7 FG%
The Phoenix Suns have been the NBA’s most impressive team thus far in 2021-22, and although their superstar backcourt gets most of the credit for that, Deandre Ayton’s contributions to the club’s success over the past two seasons should not be overlooked.
Ayton has arguably been at his best this season, too, posting a career-high clip in BPM (3.7) and WS/48 (0.219), and although his effort level can still sometimes wane, overall, his nightly impact is the best its ever been.
Ayton has specifically been a monster as the pick-and-roll roller, producing 1.35 PPP on such looks, the second-best mark in the league, per Synergy, with players with at least 100 such possessions.
His production as a rebounder and as a low-post scorer could come up huge for the Suns in the playoffs, too, as many of Phoenix’s foes don’t have the size or athleticism down low to keep up with Ayton when he’s on.
For the latest Deandre Ayton rumors, click here.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City)
2021-22 stats: 22.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 42.4 FG%
It would almost feel criminal to leave Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out of the All-Star festivities this season, though two things could be held against the Oklahoma City Thunder stud: the team’s record and how loaded the Western Conference is in the backcourt positions.
Gilgeous-Alexander does a bit of everything for the Thunder, scoring at a high level and rebounding and distributing at impressive rates for a guard.
The Canadian ball-handler possesses an extremely unique game, with herky-jerky movements that are impossible to predict and stop-on-a-dime shooting that leaves defenders clueless as to when to contest. As such, among players with at least 150 isolation opportunities this season, Gilgeous-Alexander ranks fourth at 0.95 PPP, per Synergy, a higher mark than Jayson Tatum.
There’s little doubt Gilgeous-Alexander should eventually earn an All-Star nomination, it’s just hard to say if that will be this year with those two aforementioned factors going against him.
For the latest Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rumors, click here.
LaMelo Ball (Charlotte)
2021-22 stats: 19.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 7.6 apg, 1.7 spg, 42.1 FG%
We’re reaching the part of this list where it’d be almost surprising if these players didn’t become first-time All-Stars this year, and that portion of the ranking is led off by LaMelo Ball, who has quickly become one of the most exciting players in the league.
Full of pizzazz, highlight passes and bombastic three-point completions, Ball has turned the Hornets not just into must-watch television, but also legitimate playoff contenders in the East in just his second season with the team.
Ball is on a list with Luka Doncic, another young phenom, as the only players to average a 19.3/7.1/7.5 stat line prior to turning 21 years old, proving how unique Ball’s all-around game is and how he’s a lock to be the next big thing at the point-guard position in the NBA.
Ball also already ranks 22nd league-wide in VORP (1.7) and 24th in BPM (3.9), which shows his production is far from empty or inefficient.
Missed games could hurt his chances, as well as how strong the guard crop is in the East, but Ball will get strong consideration to be an All-Star this season without a doubt.
For the latest LaMelo Ball rumors, click here.
Dejounte Murray (San Antonio)
2021-22 stats: 19.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 8.8 apg, 2.0 spg, 44.8 FG%
One of three players posting a 19/8/8 stat line this season – along with Doncic and James Harden – Dejounte Murray also leads the league in nightly steals in 2021-22, which goes to show just how much of a two-way load he carries for the San Antonio Spurs on a nightly basis.
Murray is a monster on both ends of the floor, even turning into a capable scorer this campaign, something he struggled with mightily early on in his career.
The 25-year-old ranks 16th in BPM in 2021-22, 14th in VORP and 26th in PER, making it difficult to foresee Murray not being named an All-Star this season, although the Spurs’ record could be used against him, as does his team’s market size.
Either way, San Antonio fans know how good Murray has been this year, as the young floor general has blossomed into one of the top two-way point guards in basketball this season.
For the latest Dejounte Murray rumors, click here.
Darius Garland (Cleveland)
2021-22 stats: 19.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 7.9 apg, 1.3 spg, 46.8 FG%
Another young point guard on a massively upward trajectory is Cleveland Cavaliers’ lead guard Darius Garland, who is averaging nearly 20 points and eight assists nightly in his third season.
Garland has been one of Cleveland’s most impactful players this year and a huge reason why the team sits at 26-18 record and No. 6 in the East. With him on the floor, the Cavaliers are 11.4 points per 100 possessions better than when Garland is on the bench.
Garland’s smooth game and accurate shooting touch make him a load to defend, as does his pick-and-roll creating abilities, making him an all-around point guard who excels in the modern game.
Prior to the season, Stephen Curry raised some eyebrows when he heaped praise on Garland just before his big breakout (via Cavaliers Nation):
Looks like Curry may know what he’s talking about when it comes to point-guard play.
For the latest Darius Garland rumors, click here.
Jarrett Allen (Cleveland)
2021-22 stats: 16.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 bpg, 69.9 FG%
Garland’s Cavs teammate and pick-and-roll partner, Jarrett Allen, is likewise enjoying a fantastic breakout campaign, one that very well could lead to his first All-Star nomination.
Allen ranks as an excellent offensive player according to Synergy, and although his game is not super multi-faceted, he’s so effective at what he does that it’s hard to argue with Synergy’s analysis there.
Allen’s leaping ability, impressive wingspan and solid hands make him a menace both on the glass and as a scorer around the paint. The former Texas standout is at his best cutting off the ball and finishing out of the pick-and-roll, as well as out of post-ups.
Like Garland, Allen has been a massive reason for Cleveland’s great success this season, and with that potential All-Star duo around, the Cavaliers are set up for even bigger heights in the future.
For the latest Jarrett Allen rumors, click here.
Fred VanVleet (Toronto)
2021-22 stats: 21.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 43.3 FG%
It would be a downright shock if Fred VanVleet didn’t make his first All-Star roster this season, as the Toronto Raptors floor general has been one of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference all season long, and even in the league at large.
Without VanVleet, there’s no chance the Raptors would sit where they do right now, at 21-20 and in position to make the playoffs behind a respectable +0.8 net rating. He’s scoring and distributing at high rates, as well as defending well, ranking 11th in the league in nightly steals.
The advanced analytics rate VanVleet highly, too, as the former Wichita State standout ranks seventh in the NBA in VORP and 13th in BPM. What’s more, Synergy ranks VanVleet as an excellent spot-up shooter and a very good scorer out of the pick-and-roll, producing 0.902 PPP on the play type.
Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, formerly the man in the charge of the Raptors, recently backed VanVleet’s All-Star candidacy:
Dwane Casey also endorses that Fred VanVleet has become Kyle Lowry.
“He’s earned every bit of what he’s getting… he should be an all-star.”
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) January 14, 2022
And he’s absolutely right. It would be highly questionable if VanVleet isn’t named an All-Star for his 2020-21 contributions.
For the latest Fred VanVleet rumors, click here.
Ja Morant (Memphis)
2021-22 stats: 24.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 6.7 apg, 1.3 spg, 48.7 FG%
Another player who should be considered a lock to make his All-Star debut in 2021-22 is Grizzlies lead guard Ja Morant, who has been explosively dominant this campaign for Memphis, outside of a couple of weeks that he missed due to injury.
Morant’s midseason highlight tape is one of the most impressive we’ve seen this year…
…and Morant agrees.
Morant is explosive, tough getting to the basket, has good court vision and is even knocking down threes off the dribble now, making him the young Murray State Racer nearly unstoppable one-on-one. He’s 15th in VORP on the campaign and eighth in BPM, ahead of the likes of Doncic, Harden and Rudy Gobert.
Add in the fact that Memphis is sixth in net rating in 2021-22 (+3.7) and third in the West at 37-15 to this point, and you have absolutely no reason to think Morant won’t be an All-Star this year.
It’s also more than likely it’ll be the first of many such accolades in Morant’s career, as the 22-year-old looks every bit like a superstar in the making.
For the latest Ja Morant rumors, click here.
Source: Yahoo Sports