Which NBA Youngsters Will Be First Time All-Stars in 2013?

Haddon AndersonAnalyst IFebruary 27, 2012

Which NBA Youngsters Will Be First Time All-Stars in 2013?

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    As the All-Star weekend passes, it's fitting to consider who will represent the league in future All-Star festivities.

    The 2012 event certainly featured a handful of names who will carry over to next year and beyond (LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, to name a few).

    But there will surely be new young faces at next year's showdown. Who will they be?

    Some rookies are already playing at an All-Star level, which was magnified in the Rising Stars game.

    What's more, there are a slew of second- and third-year budding stars who will undoubtedly push for a 2013 All-Star Game appearance.

    Here are the top youngsters who will seek to inaugurate themselves to the All-Star Game in 2013, as well as predictions on whether or not they will make their All-Star dreams a reality.

Ricky Rubio: Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Ricky Rubio has raised a lot of eyebrows in the first half of this lockout-shortened season. There's been hype surrounding him for a few years and he's proving he's worth it.

    His numbers are eye-popping: 11.3 points per game, 8.4 assists per game, 4.3 rebounds per game and an incredibly lofty 2.4 steals per outing.

    Further, he's helped revive the Timberwolves, who've been lowly since Kevin Garnett's departure. They're currently in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference.

    What bodes well for Rubio's 2013 All-Star potential is the fact that Steve Nash is aging (and could even be traded to the Eastern Conference). Nash received yet another All-Star bid this year, but expect Rubio to replace him in 2013. 

    Rubio's talent is undeniable. There's every reason to think he's going to be a steady All-Star for years to come.

    2013 All-Star? YES

Greg Monroe: Detroit Pistons

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    Burly big man Greg Monroe is the lone bright spot for the Detroit Pistons. He's currently averaging 16.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in his second year out of Georgetown.

    But it's not always easy for good players on bad teams to make the All-Star team. For instance, Utah Jazz forward Al Jefferson (19.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.6 blocks per game) got snubbed this year and his Jazz are barely below .500 at 15-17.

    Therefore, Monroe will have his work cut out for him if he wants to ensure his first All-Star appearance.

    The good news for Monroe is that the Eastern Conference, besides Dwight Howard (who could even be traded to the Western Conference) and Chris Bosh, is fairly weak in the frontcourt.

    With Kevin Garnett aging and players such as Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer not playing at an All-Star level, there's reason to believe that a guy like Monroe could sneak into next's year contest.

    The door is open for Monroe to gather his first All-Star berth. Expect him to take advantage of this.

    2013 All-Star? YES

Stephen Curry: Golden State Warriors

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    Stephen Curry has All-Star talent. There's no questioning that.

    The unfortunate truth for him is that he'll never be an All-Star as long as Monta Ellis is his running mate. Ellis was an All-Star snub this year (averaging 22.4 PPG), but he demands the ball a great deal and surely takes away from Curry being able to create.

    Curry's numbers remain solid—16.5 PPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG—and he's shooting an astounding 45 percent from long range.

    Imagine if he had loads of freedom and didn't have to share the backcourt with the trigger-happy Ellis. Curry's numbers would most likely force him into the All-Star game.

    But until he's given the reins to the Warriors, he'll struggle to surpass current All-Stars Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Tony Parker, as well as budding stars Ricky Rubio and Ty Lawson.

    2013 All-Star? NO

DeMarcus Cousins: Sacramento Kings

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    The abilities of DeMarcus Cousins are vividly clear. Yet there are also vividly clear downsides.

    His attitude has always been a question mark, and there are also lingering concerns regarding his defense and shot selection (his 44 percent field-goal rate is unimpressive for a 6'11", 270-pound man).

    If you can live with the downsides, there remain many reasons for optimism. He does tally potent numbers: 16.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG and 1.2 SPG.

    At next year's All-Star game, Cousins could potentially take the place of 2012 All-Star Marc Gasol or even LaMarcus Aldridge.

    But that's a long shot. The 21-year-old's downsides loom too large at this point. Plus, Sacramento's struggles, which hurt his candidacy, aren't likely to vanish come next season.

    2013 All-Star? NO

Kyrie Irving: Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Kyrie Irving's certainly helping the city of Cleveland move past the hurt of losing LeBron James. The Cavs' 19-year old point guard, who was the first pick in last June's draft, is exceeding expectations thus far this season.

    He recently pumped in 34 points in the Rising Stars game, undoubtedly making many wonder if he was the best "rising star" on the floor.

    Irving is averaging 18.1 PPG and 5.1 APG, and his 42 percent clip from three is stellar, especially for a rookie.

    Moreover, he's helped make the Cavaliers (who went 19-63 last season) a respectable squad, and they're currently just 1.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    Irving's making a name for himself and we should expect to see him at next year's All-Star game.

    If he doesn't replace Rajon Rondo, then expect the Eastern Conference to simply boast a handful of point guards (Rose, Deron Williams, Rondo, Irving and probably Jeremy Lin as well).

    2013 All-Star? YES

Ty Lawson: Denver Nuggets

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    Ty Lawson has taken over the reins to the Denver Nuggets and he's appearing to be a reliable floor general.

    Lawson's pouring in 15.4 PPG while dishing out 6.1 APG. He's also a thief on defense, notching 1.4 steals per outing.

    The 24-year-old is fantastic in the open floor, but he must improve in the half court and be able to knock down threes more consistently.

    Until then, he's an All-Star candidate, but it will be tough for him to actually receive an All-Star bid, especially with Westbrook, Paul and the surging Rubio playing point guard in the same conference.

    2013 All-Star? NO

Brandon Jennings: Milwaukee Bucks

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    Many considered Brandon Jennings to be an All-Star snub this year, as he's averaged 18.4 PPG and 5.2 APG and has even led the average Bucks to two wins against the star-studded Miami Heat.

    The concern with Jennings is his consistency. This man once scored 55 points in a game as a rookie, but he has his share of clunkers as well, which is evidenced by his subpar 40.5 percent field-goal rate.

    The bigger worry for Jennings' All-Star hopes are the players he must surpass in the Eastern Conference. He's surely not going to eclipse Rose or Williams—even Rondo is a long shot.

    Plus, up-and-coming stars like Irving, John Wall and Lin clog the backcourt in the East. Jennings must show vast improvement to situate himself ahead of these candidates. Until then, his 2013 All-Star hopes are bleak.

    2013 All-Star? NO

John Wall: Washington Wizards

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    John Wall unfortunately has to play for the undisciplined Washington Wizards. If he were on a team with legitimate weapons, he'd shine. 

    Despite his lackluster surroundings, Wall is still producing: 16.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG and even one block per outing.

    There are downsides—mainly his low percentage from three-point land and his excessive turnovers. But Wall can unquestionably play with the league's elite and deserves to be in the All-Star game soon.

    The difficulty for Wall is that the East already features point guard studs in Rose, Williams and Rondo, and youngsters Irving and Lin are quickly developing. 

    While Wall is arguably a better player than Lin, the effect of "Linsanity" will strike Wall, because Lin will unquestionably receive loads of All-Star votes.

    This will most likely leave Wall as the odd man out in the East, unless the East decides to carry five or six point guards to next year's event.

    2013 All-Star? NO

Tyreke Evans: Sacramento Kings

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    Tyreke Evans was the 2009-2010 Rookie of the Year who, at times, appeared like a mini-LeBron James. His imposing stature and ability to handle the ball impressed many.

    But he has not made major steps since his rookie campaign. In fact, his second-year numbers nor this year's numbers have surpassed what he tallied as a rookie.

    Thus, there are obvious concerns regarding his work ethic and focus. His numbers are still decent: 17.3 PPG, 5.3 APG, 5.2 RPG and 1.5 SPG, but they're not All-Star caliber.

    Evans has yet to show signs that he can take his game to the next level. When he does, he will be scary. Until then, he remains on the bubble of his first All-Star appearance.

    2013 All-Star? NO

Jeremy Lin: New York Knicks

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    Jeremy Lin has taken the league by storm in the past month. Will that lead to an All-Star appearance in 2013?

    You can count on it.

    The unfortunate thing about this is that it won't necessarily be because of his play. The hype of "Linsanity" will cause many to cast their votes in his favor no matter how successful he is on the floor.

    Truthfully, he will very likely end up starting in next year's All-Star game, potentially over reigning MVP Derrick Rose or Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

    His popularity will carry him to an All-Star berth, but hopefully his play coincides with his popularity.

    He's surely shown he's a solid point guard, but is he really more deserving of an All-Star appearance than other young hopefuls such as John Wall or Brandon Jennings? That's a question worth some consideration.

    2013 All-Star? YES