Voting for All-Star participants usually turns into a popularity contest, with the league’s brightest stars all assured of a place. The last few roster spots are often the most sought after, with more than a handful of players vying for a spot amongst their star peers, and there are some viable candidates eager to earn their first gig at the midseason classic in Utah early in 2023. Some of the ascending stars from around the league are putting their hand up to be included in the selection process, but just how many first-time All-Stars will we see this year?
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Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves
Minnesota hasn’t meshed to start the year like a lot of T-Wolves fans would’ve hoped. That doesn’t mean that Anthony Edwards deserves less credit for what he’s accomplishing in year three though, increasing his scoring rate yet again to now average 23.1 PPG. Edwards has been wreaking havoc on the defensive side of the ball as well, chalking up 20 steals in his last four games as he continues to evolve into a superstar. His time is coming, but can he squeeze his way onto a roster this season? We’ll have to wait and see.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder
Having been the subject of trade speculation for years now, it’s clear OKC won’t be entertaining offers for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander anymore. A walking 30-point bucket to commence the season, SGA is keeping this mediocre Thunder roster alive as they look to climb out of the cellar of the Western Conference. Regardless of what Oklahoma City’s record looks like at the break, Gilgeous-Alexander obviously deserves to be selected for his first All-Star appearance alongside his star peers.
De’Aaron Fox, Kings
Sacramento isn’t familiar with having a winning record 25 or so games into a season, and De’Aaron Fox’s play is a big reason why they find themselves multiple games over .500. Scoring at the most efficient clip in his career to date, Fox has been the catalyst for the Kings, with the rest of his teammates buying in and helping the team experience success. The guard spots are loaded in the West, but if Fox can keep excelling at a high level and Sacto continues to win, a maiden All-Star berth could be coming his way.
O.G. Anunoby, Raptors
Hear me out, O.G. Anunoby is a dark horse to win Defensive Player of the Year honours this season. Everyone was expecting the Scottie Barnes breakout in 2023, but instead, Anunoby has stepped up for Toronto to average close to 20 PPG while league the league in steals. The sixth-year Raptor stepped up big time during Pascal Siakam’s 10-game absence, leading the team for total minutes and scoring 22 points a night. Anunoby will likely generate more buzz in the DPOY race than he will in the All-Star conversation, but that doesn’t mean his name shouldn’t be mentioned.
Lauri Markkanen, Jazz
He’s cooled off recently, although Lauri Markkanen has already done enough this season to suggest he’s All-Star worthy. Through 26 games, the smooth-shooting forward is averaging a career-best 22.2 PPG and helping the Utah Jazz overachieve in the eyes of many. Carrying the momentum over from a successful EuroBasket campaign this offseason, there’s no reason why Markkanen can’t be a strong contributor for the Jazz for years to come. Despite his play going up a notch, there are no guarantees that he cracks the All-Star roster this season.
Evan Mobley, Cavaliers
Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are widely expected to make the cut for the ASG, but will the Cavs get a third All-Star? Evan Mobley’s counting stats don’t look great when you stack them up against the other contenders for this roster, and he’s probably still a few years off making a serious push for an All-Star spot. Still, the budding big man continues to make strides, particularly on defence, sitting 1st in the entire league for three-point shot contests and 10th in total blocked shots. Make no mistake, Mobley’s time is coming…
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Tyrese Halliburton, Pacers
Aside from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Tyrese Haliburton is the other shoe in on this list. No one currently has more double-doubles on the season than Haliburton as the Indiana guard is enjoying a coming out party with dazzling dimes and more than his fair share of scoring. The Pacers will go as far as Haliburton can take them in 2023, and while they’re probably a few years away from making any serious noise out East, this could be the first of many All-Star games we see Tyrese feature in.
Paolo Banchero, Magic
We haven’t seen a rookie make the All-Star game since Blake Griffin back in 2011 and it looks like that trend is going to continue unless Paolo Banchero starts to ball out of his mind. The first-year Magic forward has made his presence felt early on, averaging 23.5 PPG and 8.3 RPG through his first dozen NBA games. The rubbish record of the Orlando Magic won’t do his All-Star claim any favours, however, there is a world where Paolo dominates and forces the hand of voters.
Jamal Murray, Nuggets
He’s still working his way back from an ACL tear, but Jamal Murray is starting to look like himself again. In his most recent outing against Portland, Murray was at his shot-making best, finishing with 23 points, 8 assists, and one cold-blooded game-winner. Denver clearly has their sights set on a championship this season and as a result, we’ll probably see Jamal and the rest of his teammates prioritise rest and health over individual accolades. Murray deserves to be an All-Star, but he may have to wait until 2024 to have those dreams realised.
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Anfernee Simons, Trailblazers
Giving CJ McCollum the flick and handing over “Robin” duties to Anfernee Simons seems to be working for the Trailblazers. While Damian Lillard was in street clothes recently, Simons took over the role as Portland’s go-to-guy and didn’t look out of place, averaging 29.4 PPG through seven contests. As previously mentioned, the guard spots on the All-Star list are going to be hotly contested this year, and it’s tough to see Ant Simons squeezing his way onto a team if Dame is back and eating into his workload. Still, stranger things have happened.
Desmond Bane, Grizzlies
A somewhat serious toe injury has virtually ruined Desmond Bane’s chances of seriously contending for an All-Star bid in 2023, which is a shame because he was starting to excel in Memphis. Before leaving the court a month ago, Bane was pouring in 24.7 points a night and shooting an elite 45% from deep while helping steer the Grizzlies to a 9-3 record. Memphis’ long-term goal of winning it all will mean Bane won’t be rushed back before he’s fully fit and firing, and there’s still time for him to stake his claim for a maiden All-Star appearance.
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