Let’s get one thing straight before we begin; these are not all players I believe should be All-Stars. These are players I think have legitimate arguments for being All-Stars, but that doesn’t mean I’m calling for all of them to be put in the game. These are just a handful of players having great years who should have drawn immense consideration for spots on All-Star rosters.
When you read this I’m sure you’ll realize, just as everyone else has, that the Western Conference absolutely has more talent than the Eastern Conference. Seven of the eleven players on this list are from the West. While that isn’t too uneven, just go look at the rosters. The West always has an advantage over the East because it has some much talent depth. That’s why a lot of great players from that conference end up on this list. A lot of them would have been All-Stars this year if they played in the East. Names appear alphabetically.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
This wasn’t really shocking. Through his first six NBA seasons, Drummond made just two All-Star games. He’s been an inconsistent part of the game. He’s always been a dominant force on the glass and in the middle, but he’s not versatile enough on offense to really stand out from other frontcourt players. If this wasn’t an era dependent on three-point shooting, Drummond would be a bigger star.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
This is going to be a trend for the rest of the article. Great players who play at All-Star levels, being buried behind the crazily talented pool of guards in the West. If DeRozan was going to miss an All-Star game, it would be this season. His points per game have dropped and he’s still looking a little out of place on the Spurs. Previously, DeRozan spent the first nine years of his career in Toronto and made four of the last five All-Star games. He was even named to the All-NBA Second Team last season. Having to compete with guards in the West changes things though. So, despite career highs in assists, rebounds, and blocks per game, DeRozan isn’t going to his fifth All-Star game.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
We’ve been talking about Booker being an All-Star caliber player since 2016, yet he hasn’t made the game once. Part of the reason has to be that he plays on the always subpar Suns. Of course, playing in a conference that has three MVP guards doesn’t help either. It’s a shame, Booker is putting up the highest field goal percentage of his career so far. While I think he’s more than deserving of being an All-Star, who are you going to kick off the team to let him on? Damian Lillard? Klay Thompson? Russell Westbrook? If Booker played in the East I’d put him in in a heartbeat, but the West is too stacked.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
A bad start to the season sunk most of Mitchell’s All-Star hopes early on. His field goal percentage was atrocious in some games and he was compensating for it by taking more shots. Things have more or less leveled off now, even though he’s shooting a lower percentage than he did as a rookie last season. Mitchell faces the same situation as Booker, he’s a young player buried beneath a ton of veteran All-NBA caliber guards. It could take a few years for Mitchell to finally become an All-Star.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
He would probably be an All-Star if he didn’t play for a team loaded with so much talent. Too much talent, arguably. Right now, despite how great of a player he is, Tatum’s numbers aren’t mind-blowing. They don’t scream “All-Star” to me. Ordinarily, I’d stop there, but Khris Middleton was selected as an All-Star this year and that causes a problem for me. I’ve thought of Middleton as one of the best non-All-Stars in the NBA for a few years now, but he hasn’t done enough to earn a spot over Tatum this year. If Middleton was going to make the game, it should have been last year when he averaged over 20 points per game. This year some of his key stats are down and I think Tatum should have gotten his spot.
Jimmy Butler, Philadelphia 76ers
Butler was passed over in favor of D’Angelo Russell replacing Victor Oladipo. Butler’s scoring numbers are down slightly as a consequence of trying to find the right fit in Philadelphia. It feels like some nights he shows up and scores in the high 20s, other nights he barely cracks 15 points. Personally, I don’t agree with the Russell selection over Butler. Butler has a higher field goal percentage, fewer turnovers, and is perennially one of the best defenders in the league. I get that Russell is having a good year, but we all know Butler is better and he’s having just as good a season. Be honest, Butler is one a top 15-20 player in the NBA easily, Russell is not.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans
Holiday was an All-Star back in 2012-13, but he’s thrown together two of the best years of his career recently. Guys like Holiday, who play in smaller markets and lack big brand names, are often overlooked in instances like this. He’s pacing a career high in points per game, rebounds per game, and possibly even assists per game, but the nation hasn’t really noticed. Some teams are looking at potentially trading for Holiday because they believe he can be a key piece of a championship contender. I agree. He’s just one of many great guards in the West who won’t be an All-Star this year.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Who says drafting foreign players early on is a bad strategy? It worked out great for the Mavericks who now have one of the most well-known guards in the league on their team. Doncic is putting up similar scoring numbers to what Mitchell managed last year, but he’s averaging far more rebounds and assists. Some of the performances he’s put on as a rookie have been incredible. But again, this is the Western Conference we’re talking about. There aren’t open guard spots for young players.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Despite winning the 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year award, Gobert has never been an All-Star. I really thought he had a chance this year when Karl-Anthony Towns and LaMarcus Aldridge stumbled early on in the season. While he is a great defender and posting a career high in points per game, Gobert has never been as consistent on offense as the two players I just mentioned. So he, like Drummond, is often overlooked for a spot on the team
Tobias Harris, Los Angeles Clippers
I’m not quite sure why Harris has been bounced around so much early on in his career. I mean four teams through seven completed seasons is rough. And Harris has a lot of talent so that makes all of the jumping around even weirder. He’s averaging a career high in points per game, rebounds per game, and field goal percentage this season. If there’s a knock against him it’s that he doesn’t blow you away in any one category. Still, he’s one of the most well-rounded non-All-Stars in the NBA today.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
LaVine started off the year hot, and while he’s still putting up great numbers, they’ve become less overwhelming. I’ve loved LaVine since he entered the league. We saw him win back to back Slam Dunk Contests in 2015 and 2016. He has that explosive play style that has always screamed with potential. Unfortunately, injuries derailed him in the last two seasons. Now that he’s mostly healthy we’re finally getting to see what he can really do. I do think LaVine will be an All-Star in the future, but it will be hard to stand out while on the Bulls. He has a shot to challenge some of the lower ranked All-Star guards in the East though.
I’m throwing out honorable mentions to Pascal Siakam, who looks like he’s on his way to position numbers similar to Tobias Harris in the coming years, and Mike Conley, because he’s always somewhere on this list.
Below is just a brief list of players who missed the opportunity to compete for an All-Star spot this year because of injuries. Some of these players saw action this season, others didn’t. I’ve just thrown together a bunch of past All-Stars who have missed extensive time this season.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
John Wall, Washington Wizards
DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors
Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks
Chris Paul, Houston Rockets