NBA 2018-19: 5 Players who should make their All-Star Debut

Luka Dončić
Luka Dončić
Sahar Hadida

Last year's All-Star game gave us a refreshing take on the fans' favorite thanks to the new draft format. This year, the anticipation is even higher, since it was reported in early November that the draft procedure between the elected team captains would be televised for the world to see.

So with that out of the way, all that remains is to pick the participating players and captains.

This year's game will display many of the old favorites who were featured in previous installments, but will probably feature some All-Star debutants.

In 2018, five players were selected to make their All-Star Debut: Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo and Kristaps Porziņģis, who was one of four players to miss the game due to injury. However, one of the replacements, Goran Dragić, was a first-time All-Star as well, keeping the number at five.

Shortly before the voting process begins, here are the five players who should get a shot at a first All-Star Game appearance:

#1 Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons should have made his All-Star debut already
Ben Simmons should have made his All-Star debut already

While watching Ben Simmons play basketball, one might think he would be making his All-Star debut a year too late. The 6-10 point guard phenomenon took the league by storm after missing his rookie year due to a foot fracture.

The young Aussie averaged over 15 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the previous season, making him just the second player to do so in his first year playing the league. The first to do so was Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, all the way back in the 1960-61 season.

That impressive stat line won Simmons the Rookie of the Year award, but it wasn't enough to give him a spot in the 2018 All-Star Game. Despite ranking third amongst East backcourt players in fan voting, Simmons was left out of the final rosters, after not being chosen as a reserve by the Eastern Conference team coaches.

However, with last year's starter, DeMar DeRozan out in the West and Washington's duo, Wall and Beal having a disappointing season, Simmons' spot in the All-Star Game is all but guaranteed.

#2 Nikola Jokić

Nikola Jokić has become one of the most fun players to watch
Nikola Jokić has become one of the most fun players to watch

Who could have seen Nikola Jokić's amazing rise coming? The 7-feet-tall Serbian, who was selected just 41st overall back in 2014 and played under a minimum contract for the past three years, is now considered one of the best big men in the game and even a legitimate MVP candidate.

Coming out of the great basketball incubator of the Serbian KK Mega Basket, Jokić made First Team All-Rookie and never looked back. 'The Joker' landed a starting role in Denver and quickly showed the world how versatile a big-man can be.

This season, Jokić is averaging 18.2 points and 10 rebounds, while also distributing over seven assists a night. The only 7-footer to average at least seven assists per game in a season was Wilt Chamberlain, over 50 years ago.

If this historic stat isn’t enough for you, Jokić's Nuggets have a 21-10 record, second-best in the West by Christmas, with him leading the team in four of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists and steals). It will be a shocker if he won't be an All-Star.

#3 Nikola Vučević

Nikola Vučević has earned a first-time selection
Nikola Vučević has earned a first-time selection

If you were to make a preseason prediction on who will make the All-Star Game in the East, the name Nikola Vučević would probably not pop into your head. However, watching him play so far this year should make us think otherwise.

The Montenegrin center has had the best year of his career this season. He is averaging 20.1 points (career high) and 11.8 rebounds, leading the Magic in both categories. Vučević has recorded 21 double-doubles this season in 31 games, which is on pace to break his personal record for double-doubles in a season, which is 46 (2012-13).

Vučević's shooting numbers are great this year as well. He is averaging 38.9% from three-point range and 52.3% from the field, both career highs. That makes him just the third 7-footer to average at least 38% from three and 52% from the field in NBA history.

He might not be the most glamorous name on the game sheet, but with the season he is having, he definitely deserves it.

#4 Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum continuing his progress this year
Jayson Tatum continuing his progress this year

Jayson Tatum's rookie year was supposed to stay in the shadow of Boston's big summer signing, Gordon Hayward. However, just five minutes into his Celtics' career, Hayward dislocated his ankle and his season was over. Tatum stepped up to the occasion and showed out in an impressive rookie season that earned him a First Team All-Rookie honor.

This season, Tatum picked up where he left off in the previous one, averaging over 16 points and 6 rebounds. He is currently on a 21-game streak of scoring in double figures, failing to score in double figures just three times this season.

Despite not winning Rookie of the Year, Tatum was the highest-ranking rookie in fan voting for the 2018 All-Star Game among East frontcourt players; he even surpassed seasoned veterans like Al Horford and Andre Drummond.

Despite the Celtics having a rocky, inconsistent season, Jayson Tatum refused to have a setback in his progress to being one of the league's next superstars.

#5 Luka Dončić

Everything has been going this season for Luka Dončić
Everything has been going this season for Luka Dončić

Six months ago, you had to be an NBA draft aficionado to know who Luka Dončić is. Today, you can't have a conversation about this season without mentioning the rookie sensation out of Slovenia.

Luka torched the EuroLeague last year, winning both regular season and final four MVP, while leading Real Madrid to their second title in 23 years. He averaged over 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game in Europe, playing under 26 minutes a night. But for some reason, people doubted his ability to adjust his game to the NBA.

Safe to say, he adjusted quite well.

Luka is averaging 19 points, 6.6 rebounds and almost 5 assists per game. Adjusted for playing time, most of his numbers barely fall short of his European numbers, with some even improving.

Dončić will have to beat the odds to make the All-Star game. Only one player in NBA history made the All-Star Game before his 20th birthday (Kobe Bryant, 1998) and just two rookies made it in the last 20 years (Blake Griffin, 2011 and Yao Ming, 2003). But after surprising everyone around the league with his game, what's one more surprise?

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


Quick Links

More from Sportskeeda
Fetching more content...