The NBA All-Star Weekend is just around the corner and the fan voting period is nearing its end. The final returns of the same will be announced in three days and the starters will be named on 23rd January, 2020.
While some of today's NBA superstars maintain their high performance levels across multiple seasons, even taking things up a notch as the years progress, not every player finds it easy to sustain that dexterity over the long haul. Thus, it's imperative that many players who made it to the NBA All-Star Game last season would fail to do so this year.
Now, there are a host of players suffering from long-term injuries and it's given that they would not warrant a selection this time around. Therefore, it's key to focus on currently fit players whose performance level has either dipped or stagnated and they're unlikely to get an All-Star selection this year. Here are the All-Stars from last year who will miss out on the festive game in all likelihood this year.
#5 Nikola Vucevic
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic made it to the All-Star Game as a reserve following what was a breakout year for him last season. The Montenegrin averaged 20.8 points per game and 12 rebounds per game to warrant a selection as one of the reserves.
The fact that Vucevic propelled the Magic to the playoffs resulted in him receiving a 4-year $100 million extension this season but unfortunately, he hasn't met the expectations of the Orlando front office so far.
While his numbers haven't taken a drastic hit and the Magic are still occupying a playoff seed, Vucevic's numbers aren't good enough when compared to the long list of frontcourt players who've balled out hard on playoff-bound teams in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, Vucevic has received significant help from teammate Evan Fournier who himself is averaging 19 points per game.
#4 LaMarcus Aldridge
One of the things that have never happened in the NBA in this millennium is the San Antonio Spurs missing out on the playoffs, but that is the situation we're looking at right now. After umpteen years, Gregg Popovich's side is out of a playoff seed midway through the season with little guarantee that the franchise would make it to the postseason this time around.
Much of it has been down to the decline in the form of LaMarcus Aldridge. Averaging 18.9 points per game this season, his production has fallen by a little over 2 points per outing. However, he's also lacked chemistry with the team on the court.
The Spurs have the 7th worst defensive rating in the league and Aldridge hasn't helped the case in this regard either. This has not been one of his better years guarding the ball and many smaller players have found it easy to get past him on the pick and roll.
Selected as an All-Star reserve from the Western Conference last season, he's unlikely to make the cut this time around.
#3 D'Angelo Russell
Only the second player on this list whose numbers have gone up this season, D'Angelo Russell caught everyone's attention when his prowess helped the Brooklyn Nets contend for a playoff spot last season. His 21.1 points per game and 7 assists per game were enough to lead the Nets to a 6th seed in the East.
This season, he agreed on a max contract and joined the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade that saw Kevin Durant move the other way. Russell has continued his purple patch and is currently racking up 23.7 points and 6 assists per game for Steve Kerr's side. Long-term injuries to Klay Thompson and Steph Curry have also made him the team's primary scorer.
For all his efforts on the court, the Warriors are a losing team right now and more importantly, the abundance of elite guards in the Western Conference averaging better numbers simply makes an All-Star selection difficult for D'Angelo Russell.
#2 Ben Simmons
If you look closely at Ben Simmons' numbers across the three years of his playing career, his production has roughly been the same. Yes, his decision making has improved now and he has also seemingly added a jump shot to his arsenal. However, that's simply not enough for a budding star on a contending team who was handed a $170 million extension early on this season.
Even when you consider his output last season, Simmons barely made it to the All-Star Game as a replacement to the injured Victor Oladipo. That needn't be the case this time around. Several guards have performed better than him this term including the likes of Kemba Walker, Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, and Jaylen Brown among others.
Another thing going against him is the fact that many consider his teammate Tobias Harris to be the second-best player on the Philadelphia 76ers after Joel Embiid. Given that Harris offers a much better value on offense over Simmons with his 19.4 points per game on a 48% shooting clip, the aforementioned claim does have some ground.
#1 Kyrie Irving
Starting the season on an absolute tear, Kyrie Irving was making merry in his new surroundings, averaging over 27 points per game for the Brooklyn Nets, his career-best. However, he has missed several games due to his right shoulder issues that did not look that serious when he initially suffered started missing games due to the same in November.
Irving's outburst during his return game against Boston didn't help matters either with rumors afloat that there was more to Irving's extended absence from action than just his physical fitness. Add to this the fact that the Nets more or less thrived in his absence with Spencer Dinwiddie stepping up again.
Irving has now indeed made his return from injury and you can rest assured that he will continue on his scoring run in the upcoming games for Brooklyn. Having said that, he's only featured in 12 matchups so far this season and that's simply not enough to warrant an All-Star selection.