NBA 2019-20: Players who could be 1st Time All-Stars next season
The prestigious All-Star game is seen by many as a way to evaluate a player's success in the league. Usually, it's improbable for a rookie to make the game. It has happened in the past with Blake Griffin and Yao Ming, so could we see Zion Williamson make it in his first season if he lives up to the hype that has been built around him?
This past season we saw several players make their All-Star debut: Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Nikola Vucevic, and D'Angelo Russell. With the league having experienced so many changes this summer, we could see some roster changes in the All-Star game as the new additions adjust and adapt to their new teams. Not to mention, some notable injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will open up more roster spots for the next up and coming stars.
Last year, I made a prediction that D'Angelo Russell would break out and become an All-Star. He was a player that was the second pick in the 2015 draft and was seen by many as one of the next great point guards. Unfortunately, his first few seasons in the league was riddled with injuries and showed flashes of promise but nothing more than that.
Magic Johnson infamously called out Russell for not being a leader. Luckily for Russell, he showed the Lakers organization that they had made a mistake in trading away their young promising point guard.
The 2018-19 season saw Russell make that jump to being an All-Star and lead the Nets to their first playoff berth in years. This begs the question who could make a similar jump this coming season?
There are many players who could make this jump. There will be some younger candidates such as rookie phenom Luka Doncic or even veterans like Rudy Gobert who will be trying to make their first appearance.
#6 Zach LaVine
Leading the Bulls young core is one of the key acquisitions from the Jimmy Butler trade. Zach LaVine is a tireless scorer who has shown weaknesses on the defensive end of the ball. He has a past dealing with several injuries but has shown he will work through them to improve his game. At only 24 years old, he can still grow and develop other aspects of his game, while continuing to put the ball in the hoop.
The Chicago Bulls have a chance to make the playoffs next year if the team adjusts well with their new rookie point guard in Coby White. Zach LaVine's scoring will be crucial for the team's potential run at the playoffs next year as he is relied upon as their primary scorer.
Last year, he struggled in the early months of the season, but following the All-Star break he put up 26.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. In that same time period, he shot an astounding 46.7% from deep on close to 6 attempts per game. If he can sustain those stats for a longer period of time with the Bulls fighting for a playoff spot, do not be surprised if he is named to the All-Star team.
#5 Devin Booker
This is probably the favorite pick if you were to bet on any player on this list. People have made the argument that Booker could have been an All-Star in the last 2 years. Devin Booker is another example of a high-scoring guard who struggles defensively.
A big difference between the Bulls and the Suns is that the Suns will most likely not be competitive next year. Adding Rubio will be a nice fit alongside Booker, however, the team will struggle against the highly-competitive West.
Booker is coming off a season in which he averaged 26.6 points, 6.8 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. If we took those stats and ignored the name or the team, we would think this was an All-Star player.
Unfortunately for Booker, he is gaining the reputation of a player who puts up big stats on a bad team. If he can make another jump in his game and/or have the Suns be competitive in the playoff hunt, he surely will be making his All-Star debut. He's only 22 and will have many years to prove himself.