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With all the free agency moves and trades this offseason, both conferences are looking totally different this season compared to last. So many of the all-stars from the eastern conference were traded to the western conference including Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. There was also a free agency move made by Paul Millsap to join the Denver Nuggets in the western conference. This leaves us wondering who is going to fill the spots of the guys that left. One of the spots will most likely be filled by Gordon Hayward who is new to the east but was a western conference all-star last season. What about the other three spots? These open spots leave tons of opportunity for first time All-Stars. Here are five players that I think have the best chance to fill those open spots on the roster.
Porzingis is one of the best upcoming new stars in the league. He has been one of the league’s best young big men in the game ever since he got drafted by the Knicks two years ago. His nickname, The Unicorn, fits him perfectly because he really is rare. He’s a big man with a nice post game, he can shoot the 3, drive, and protect the rim. His handle for a 7 footer is quite impressive and it seems to have gotten better over the summer too. I watched a few of his highlights from the FIBA EuroBasket and he seems to have matured his game since last year. With Carmelo being gone this season, the Knicks are going to rely on Porzingis more than ever. He will be the centerpiece in New York and he is equipped to take on the role. KP can easily become an all-star this year for the East.
I think we are all here for the D’Angelo Russell redemption season with the Nets. Although I was sad to see him traded from the Lakers, I am also excited to see what the future holds for him in Brooklyn. D’Angelo brings a lot to the table for the Nets. He can shoot, score, hit game winners, and is also an underrated passer. Given the opportunity, which he now has, D’Angelo has all the necessary skills to become an all-star guard in this league. He had an underrated first few years in the league and is now ready to shine in Brooklyn. With free reign of the offense, D’Angelo will be able to put up good numbers that can get him all-star consideration. With all the open spots on the roster, I can see him making it this year for his first all star appearance.
In my opinion, Bradley Beal should have been an all-star over Carmelo Anthony last season. Nevertheless, this season Beal should easily be able to secure a guard spot on the all star team. With a fully healthy season under his belt, Beal has to be feeling more confident about himself coming into this season. For a young player, Beal is extremely efficient shooting and scoring the ball. Also last season, Beal posted a career high in assists per game. This season, Scott Brooks has said he wants to stagger Beal’s minutes so he doesn’t always have to be playing with Wall and he can be used as more of a playmaker. If this is the case, this could be a huge role upgrade for Beal and he will be able to showcase much more of his game. It should not be overlooked that Beal is apart of one of the best backcourts in the league. If he puts up similar numbers to last year, or better, he will definitely secure a spot on the all star roster that he deserved last season.
Embiid is one of the most impressive young players in the game. He can shoot the 3, defend the paint, score with a post move, and just about anything you need. The biggest question surrounding Embiid isn’t his talent, which he clearly has, but his health issues. Embiid was able to make a huge impact in all the games he played in last season but, he only played in 31 games and he was on minute restrictions for all of them. Embiid is currently recovering from an injury but is expected to be back at the start of the season. Embiid was quoted saying that he doesn’t believe he will play all 82 games this season. This leaves me wondering how many he will play, and if those games will be enough to get him voted to be an all-star. If Embiid plays enough games, then I have no problem with him being an all star. I’m a fan of his game and I hope we can get a healthy season out of him because he is an exciting player to watch and deserves to be an all star.
It’s no secret to anyone this season that the Pacers are probably going to be one of the worst teams in the league. If you’re looking for something, or someone, on the Pacers to get excited about, look no further than Myles Turner. Turner has been one of the best young pieces on the Pacers since he was drafted in 2015. He is a mobile center that can protect the rim, be a good roll man, and can also pull up for the midrange shot. Turner has shown that he can be a force on both ends of the floor and he is set to improve this year. With Paul George being gone, Turner is now one of the centerpieces of the Pacers squad. Turner tied for second in a poll taken by league GMs regarding players that are most likely to have a breakout season this year. Joined by some pretty elite company in Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, Turner is set up to have a breakout year that could possibly land him an all-star spot. It may be a long shot, but if all goes well for Turner, he can land himself a spot on one of the all star squads this upcoming season.