Sweet 6 Could Make All-Star Debuts

HANG TIME, Texas — Every year when the first batch of NBA All-Star vote totals is announced, it is often reminiscent of one of Capt. Renault’s famous lines from “Casablanca”: Round up the usual suspects.

We could pretty much count on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony being in the starting lineups on Feb. 17 in Houston even before the first online ballot was ever cast.

There are other questions, of course. Will the resurgent Tim Duncan make a return to the Western Conference team after his 12-year streak was broken last season? How many votes will Derrick Rose get, even though he’s been rehabbing his knee and hasn’t played a single game? Will a groundswell of “Linsanity” put Jeremy Lin onto his home court in Houston?

But the most interesting question — and the hottest debates — usually come down to the players that are trying to break out under the All-Star Game spotlight for the very first time.

So, we present a six-pack of the most deserving candidates to take their All-Star debuts this season:

Stephen Curry, Warriors – Nobody’s writing him off as being too fragile anymore, worried that the ankles just won’t hold up. Now in his fourth season, the sweet shooting guard is having his best year. He’s averaging career highs of 20 points, 6.5 rebounds — numbers among point guards that are eclipsed only by OKC’s Russell Westbrook. Perhaps most significant, he’s playing 37.2 minutes a night, having not missed a game. He’s showing the quick release and the accuracy from 3-point range that everyone predicted coming into the league and, now that he’s finally healthy, Curry is playing the role of leader on a 14-7 Golden State team that has been virtually without center Andrew Bogut.

James Harden, Rockets – The Beard exploded into the headlines by scoring 37 and 45 points in his first two games for the Rockets almost before he learned the names of his teammates. It was widely acknowledged that Harden had been sacrificing a big piece of his game and potential stardom by coming off the bench for the Thunder. But did everyone think it was a piece the size of Greenland? At 24.7 a game, he is fifth in the league in scoring, trailing only Bryant, Anthony, Durant and James. He also kicks in 5.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game and, quite frankly, does about anything he wants in the Houston offense, raining in 3-pointers or getting all the way to the rim off the dribble. Just by pulling on the uniform, he’s made the Rockets relevant again.

O.J. Mayo, Mavericks — Who would have predicted this when the Grizzlies held the door open and told him not to let it him on the way out last summer? The Mavericks may have struck out in their bids for the high profile names in Howard and Deron Williams, but likely scooped up the free agent bargain of the offseason in Mayo. He ranks 10th in scoring at 20.8 per game, a career best. He’s also shooting at a 48.7 clip, including a sizzling 53 percent from behind the 3-point line. With Dirk Nowitzki sidelined while recovering knee surgery, the Mavs were desperate for someone who could fill up the basket every night and be able to make the big shots down the stretch every night. With a consistency and a concentration of focus that always eluded him in Memphis, Mayo has done it all.

Joakim Noah, Bulls – It might have been easy for the Bulls to simply resign themselves and tread water while waiting for the return of Rose. But Noah is a splasher and he’s responded along with teammate Luol Deng by tirelessly attacking every game as coach Tom Thibodeau has significantly raised his playing time and the level of expectation. Noah ranks seventh in the league in rebounding (10.8), seventh in blocked shot (2.3) and also averages 1.4 steals, all of which has helped give the Bulls the most efficient defense in the NBA and has to put him high in the early conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. He’s also averaging 13.6 points and 4.3 assists at the other end of the floor.

Josh Smith, Hawks – He’s flown beneath the radar for so long that it has somehow become acceptable to take what he’s done for granted through eight seasons and counting. By the time this one is over, J-Smoove will likely have 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocked shots with the same team. That will put him on a select list with Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Julius Erving, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett. All but Ewing have at least one MVP award to their name and Smith is the only one who has never appeared in the All-Star Game. It took him a little while to get rolling this season, but Smith now has things in gear. He was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds) in leading the Hawks to a 3-0 record. He is their leading scorer in a 12-6 season that has Atlanta No. 3 in the East standings.

Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers — How is it that the best center in the Eastern Conference could be on the trading block? It has to do more with the Cavs’ miserable 5-17 record rather than any of what Varejao has brought to the table. He’s averaging a career-high 14.8 points and leading the league with 14.9 rebounds per game. Varejao is tied with Memphis’ Zach Randolph for the league lead in double-doubles with 15, and for the 11 games when Kyrie Irving was injured and on the shelf, he might have been the only reason to watch the Cavs. Of course, every G.M. in the league has been watching and with Cleveland in full rebuilding mode, seeking draft picks and young players, there’s a good chance he’ll change uniforms twice this season. That is, of course, assuming he’ll switch into an All-Star jersey for the first time in Houston.

106 Comments

  1. Sixer's Fan says:

    Jrue Holiday really deserves to be there, there is no doubt he IS AN ALL-STAR!
    Great Personality, and Stats. I believe he has what it take to bring Philly back to the map.

    VOTE JRUE!

  2. withdrew says:

    Here’s my vote for debut players as an ALL-STAR:

    Kyrie Irving
    Jamal Crawford
    Rudy Gay
    Josh Smith
    Brook Lopez

    *they deserve to be there.

  3. Charles says:

    I still don’t get how Monta Ellis is STILL not in the conversation of All-Star Debut. His done everything he can from GS to make it and he still isn’t getting the recognition he deserves.

  4. Brynamite says:

    David Lee deserves to go! He’s playing great ball right now with a team thats just a few games out of first in the pacific division, and is one of the most versatile big men in the league. Rudy Gay has to go too in my opinion.

  5. Will says:

    Give lin the reigns of houston, and see him break-out (besides his 38 pt performance against the spurs). then we will see if he can be worthy of an all star appearance. (but this cant be possible now due to harden being there and sharing the ball with lin (acting both as an sg and pg;thus, possibly cutting lin’s stats down) (see spurs vs rockets #2 and other rest of games)

  6. Name says:

    Rasheed Wallace anyone??

  7. Bryan says:

    TD all the way

  8. Tanguy says:

    I honestly think that K.Irving R.Gay B.Lopez and J.Holiday will also be big candidates for their ASG debuts this year.

  9. Coolken says:

    The Jazz Paul Milsap…

  10. zgillet says:

    I think Varejao and Kevin Love are proof enough that your team’s FG% and lack of team rebounding can inflate your rebounding total tenfold.

  11. CroFan says:

    My top 6:
    Tyson Chandler (12 pts 10 rbs 70 FG% Knicks are best in the East)
    Steph Curry (19 pts 6 asts 43 3p% GSW are 5th in West)
    Jrue Holiday (18 pts 9 asts 45 FG% keeping Sixers a playoff contender with Bynum out)
    James Harden (25 pts 5 asts 2 stls)
    Josh Smith (17 pts 8 rbs 3.5 asts 2 blks Hawks 3rd in East)
    OJ Mayo (21 pts 4 rbs 48 FG% 53 3p%-leads league) Kyrie would have been on this list too but Cavs arent doing well

  12. anomus says:

    Dont forget LAC

  13. Counte says:

    Rudy Gay needs to go! Grizzlies frontcourt will make it as long as they have a top 3 spot in the West.

  14. kenny says:

    what about Griffin and westbrook

  15. Shelby says:

    The West starting lineup should be CP3, Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin, and D12
    The East starting lineup should be Derron Williams, D.Wade, Melo, Lebron, and Brook Lopez

  16. Ben says:

    David LEE

  17. billybob76 says:

    WHERE IS JRUE HOLIDAY?

  18. lb says:

    people have said it, but really… jrue holiday needs to be an all star.

  19. JPizzle says:

    Coming from a Warriors fan, I think Jrue Holiday should be on this list.

  20. Pinoy says:

    Tyson Chandler deserves a spot for the East too.

  21. Fefe (Nets) says:

    Other players who never appeared to the All-Star game and DESERVE BASED ON THEIR PLAY this year:

    Rudy Gay, Al Jefferson (West)

    Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Jrue Holiday (East)

  22. JLin7 says:

    Remember how many times Yao Ming was injured during All-Star?
    He was still voted on to the roster, just because of his fanbase in China.
    The same could happen again with Jeremy Lin.
    His main fanbase is USA, China and Taiwan.
    He might not deserve it, but I’m saying, with pure numbers alone, it’s possible he’ll be on the west squad.

  23. Larsenn says:

    Hope J-Smoove will be an All-Star this year.

  24. Tre'Vonte says:

    Lebron is gonna win his first all-star mvp this year reguardless if who is there

  25. jj says:

    i know david lee is a one time allstar, but the man is a machine and is playing consistently well while averaging 19-11-3.5. He plays an integral role on a great team, and makes his team mates play at a higher level. He deserves an all star reserve role indefinitely.

  26. raptors all day says:

    DEMAR DEROZEN ALL STAR ALL DAY

  27. jose machado says:

    ppl u´re right lol so many that for now deserve to be in the list, i think varejao deserves it´s the big surprise, david lee we´re used to his work, ibaka with this new offense game, jamal crawford for a bench guy he´s more all star than many starters, and more (about M.Ellis one of my favourite players, he can do about everything, and with or without numbers, he´ll not be there)!

  28. renz_garnett says:

    how about john wall???

  29. Henrik Jensen says:

    It is newer the 12 best in east vs the 12 best in West, yes when Kobe, Garnett, Vince, T-Mac, Jermaine O’neil, Iverson, Duncan, Pierce, Ray, C-Webb, etc. entered the league, in those years it was actually the best from each side whom entered the all-star game, but now:

    it could easily be; Lakers, Clippers and Thunder (4 players each) vs. Celtics, Heat and Knicks (4 Players each).

    ….

  30. Henrik Jensen says:

    Lets talk about the best in the league, not if a team has 3-4 superstars, and they all get a spot;

    East; Lebron, Rondo, Noah, Varajao, Felton, Carmelo, Calderon, Jennings, George, Holiday, Josh Smith and Deron Williams
    West; Kobe, Duncan, Parker, Harden, Cousins, Durant, Curry, David Lee, Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, Lawson and Marc Gasol.

    But whom you will probably see of these players;
    East; Lebron, Rondo, Carmelo and D-Will (maybe Noah).. rest will be from the top 5 teams, possible;
    Wade, Pierce, Garnett, Felton, Bosh, Josh Smith and Joe Johnson // Because it is newer about who is best…. (Ray Allen last year?), he is my second favorite, Garnett is number 1, all time, but they are not that good anymore….

    West; Kobe, Duncan would get a secured spot, the rest would probably be; Lin, Harden(China+America Votes), Pau Gasol(Spanish Votes), Dirk Nowitzki(Popularity + Europe Votes), Dwight Howard(Just because), maybe even Steve Nash.
    along with possible 2 Spurs or/and Jazz players(They always get good votes) + Westbrook and maybe even Ibaka + Possible Blake Griffin and Chris Paul(even dough they haven’t played that good to be infront of LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol, Stephen Curry, etc.

    But as you will most possible see it turn out, there will be so many “better” players on less good teams being left out, while the “less good but on a strong team will have 3-4 all-stars from each of those teams…

  31. Jamie Diaz says:

    Guys, the title says what this is about. It’s about “Debuts” not people who are going to be selected. Obviously LeBron will be selected the same as many other players since they’re from year to year.

    Anyway, back on topic of this list, I think it looks very good. So far all of these players are having GREAT seasons. OJ Mayo keeping the Mavericks alive with a .500 record. Anderson Varejao having a great season for the Cavs and being in the top 5 for Rebounds per game. Stephen Curry needless to say is living up to his hype now that he is healthy. In my opinion, James Harden deserved to be an All-Star for a quite awhile. His career really took off when he was apart of the Oklahoma City Thunder now he is on the Rockets, he’s putting up bigger numbers for the team since the Offense is based on him. Joakim Noah is also another one of the bigs doing ‘work’ so to speak. Doing only what three other players have done. With Dwight gone from the East, I feel that it is Noah time to finally shine in an All-Star spot.

    Last but not least, Josh Smith. This guy has played and showed that he is All-Star worthy since he first started to play. I vote for him almost every year in the East. His ability to penetrate and even step out an shoot the three every so often makes him a force to be reckoned with. Again, this is just my opinion on these players.

  32. nirujanblog says:

    come on…no JRUE HOLIDAY? He’s the reason why the Philly are above 500!

  33. Supra says:

    No Jrue? Seriously?????………………….

  34. Matt Beggs says:

    Joakim Noah is the best centre in the East

  35. CV says:

    David LEE deserves to be on this list too

  36. calvin says:

    David Lee an All-Star player

  37. Scrotieslug says:

    Jrue Holiday, please?

  38. JBR says:

    I’m a Nuggets fan.

    My addition to this list would be Al Jefferson.

  39. DURANTMVP35 says:

    Love the list but they left out somebody who deserved to be an All-Star last year and will be this year.? Rudy Gay !

  40. L Mer says:

    People! You know what to do. VOTE for them then the totals will decide who gets in.

  41. DunkerZ says:

    What about Varejão? He’s been doing some damage in Cleveland and leads the league in Rebounding

  42. dattebayo says:

    Monta Ellis should have been an allstar last year and he had a career year the year before. He has the same career stats as Kobe Bryant and yet has never been selected to the Allstar Game. He deserves at least one selection but I know, they will snub him like the last 2 years.

  43. HoustonUK says:

    No Love for Ty Lawson…
    Keep on sleeping on him

  44. Fierro10 says:

    Your crazy if you dont thing Brandon Jennings should be there. He is killing this year and deserves an all star debut

  45. DrvaStar says:

    What about Goran Dragić??

  46. GetHerDone says:

    Paul George is going to change that list.

  47. The Beast says:

    didn’t you think about Blake Griffin in the first five?

    • Jamie Diaz says:

      Blake Griffin was already selected to the All-Star team already. I think his Sophmore year in the NBA.

  48. JV says:

    No JV? Where is Jonas Valanciunas from Raptors? Best center in the legue..

    • Jamie Diaz says:

      This is not true at all. While he is just getting started in the NBA as a Rookie, he’s not even close to being called an All-Star.

  49. judeE5 says:

    hopefully Andrei Kirilenko get some votes…look at his stats

  50. ghostman91 says:

    Rondo, lee, and randolph have all been all stars before, do people not read

  51. Justwannaserve says:

    Will Jamal Crawford ever get any respect? Look at what this guy is doing. Leading scorer for one of the best teams in the league, while coming of the bench! He really deserves some all star consideration this time around.

  52. TD says:

    don’t forget, the big fundamental,Tim Duncan..

  53. SMR1 says:

    SERGE and STEPH should be maybe not starting but definetly in the line-up

  54. chios says:

    even jr smith

  55. Piddy says:

    Biggest names missing from east and west conferences are David lee and Tyson chandler respectively.

  56. How bout Rudy? says:

    I think Rudy Gay should be in this also

  57. Will6 says:

    I think Jrue Holiday deserves some consideration; 18.4 ppg, 8.9 apg, 3.9 rpg. He’s leading Philly and playing like an All-Star.

  58. LBJ says:

    LINSANITY will be there!!

  59. Ben says:

    Fran, the ‘who could be s first time all star’ column is ALWAYS my favourite column of the year. Thanks for giving us one.

    For my money, here are my top 6 prospects:

    Tyson Chandler (and about time too)
    Brandon Jennings
    Stephen Curry
    Josh Smith (also about time)
    James Harden
    Serge Ibaka

    • Ben says:

      This is leaving out an awful lot of potential contenders too… guys like Gay, Ellis, Mayo, Varejao, Millsap, Al Jefferson, Holiday, Noah all have to have some chance. There is a high number of guys who have never been all stars that are pushing for it this season. And thats not even including guys pushing for recalls…. like Randolph, Lee and West. It’s a tough year, and deserving guys will be missing out.

    • scott johnstone says:

      tyson chandler and ibaka are not putting up all star numbers at all. even though there teams are going well, they have to do have the stats

      • Ben says:

        Tell that to guys like Ben Wallace. Tyson Chandler is close to having the greatest single season FG percentage of all time – how is that not ‘having the stats’? It depends what stats you are looking for. I wouldn’t be surprised to see eiher of these guys selected for the bench.

  60. Jj says:

    Curry probably deserves it as good as he has been, I can’t see him getting over CP3, Tony Parker and Westbrook and Nash could be there out of reputation. He has played well this year I hope he gets picked.

  61. The Truth says:

    No Jamal Crawford? Boo~
    He should be a All-Star the way he is playing in Clippers.

  62. giorgi says:

    tyson chandler?

  63. Dwyanekyrie32 says:

    WHERE IS MY MAN kyrie

  64. JLin7 says:

    Jeremy Lin has to be at All-Star.
    Think about it.
    Yao Ming got votes from America AND China!
    All-Star is in Houston. Yao Ming’s old stomping ground.
    He would be the second Asian All-star.
    Sick.

  65. Chandler says:

    Boring as Anderson Varajao may sound. He deserves a spot on the all-star team this year. Its shocking to see that Noah and Varajao are the 2 top centers in the East right now. Yes, outplaying Hibbert and Bynum is injured, so you can count him out.

  66. Troy says:

    Rudy Gay ?

  67. Ben says:

    GREG MONROE

  68. are you kidding me??? says:

    Wade in the starting five???? Not anymore!

  69. Tom says:

    Varejao the best center in the East? Are you serious? I can think of at least two who are better, and they are performing on winning teams as opposed to Varejao who scores while the rest of his team flounders.

  70. Tony says:

    I like this list. I would have liked to see Jrue somehow squeeze in there.

  71. 2006 kobe bryant > 1992 Jordan says:

    jennings has been playing better then kyrie and also hit a game winner in his face andersons aswell……… kyrie is having as good of a season tho.. dont write of holliday, and monta ellis

  72. 2006 kobe bryant > 1992 Jordan says:

    BRANDON JENNINGS HES PLAYING BETTER THEN KYRIE HE ALSO HIT A GAME WINNER IN KYRIES AND VERJOUS FACE

  73. Bob says:

    What about Al Jefferson

    • Mark says:

      I agree. He should be a reserve. If there was a snub list I’d put Josh Smith and Al Jefferson on top.

  74. KB says:

    No Rondo?

  75. Nicholas Kagina says:

    What about Zac Randolph??i honestly thought he would be first on your list.okay Memphis gat a well balanced effort every night with Gay and Gasol also putting up huge games for them but Big-Z is the biggest factor to the Grizzlies super start this season.if there is an all-starter to come out of Memphis its him

    • Eli Odell J. says:

      just like all the other replies said….
      read the title
      first time’s – zach went allstar in 2010,
      hell this year aint nowhere close to his best, aint his year, there can only be 12 y’know

  76. Tom says:

    What about Rondo with Lebron, Kobe, Melo’, Dwight, Wade and Durant? Com on

    • Maximilian says:

      It’s a about DEBUTS. I’m not even a person with english as first language and I can unterstand this more than you ? He already says LeBron etc. are in anyways. It’s about DEBUTS.

      • perrystotts says:

        That’s not what he’s talking about. Lebron, Kobe, Melo, Dwight, Wade and Durant won’t be making their debuts. In the very beginning he said that those are the ones we could expect to make it even before the first results came in, and he’s wondering why he didn’t include Rondo in that list. Good question, too.

      • What?! says:

        And it is obvious that english is not your first language….. Tom was talking about the first name the article mentioned about obvious pics even before balloting….

      • HAH! says:

        are u serious dude?

    • Mark says:

      Rondo is a new addition, but they should have put CP3 & Blake because they started the last couple years.