Steve Nash, Los Angeles Lakers
Regardless of where Steve Nash went, it was clear that he would make another All-Star Game. Now that he's a member of the storied Los Angeles Lakers, however, we might as well increase his chances by a full 10 percent.
Steve Nash will finish the season with big numbers in the assist category, which should come as no surprise. He'll also improve his defensive statistics as his team defense continues to improve while he ages. The true fact to acknowledge, however, is the fact that he'll be representing the most popular franchise in the NBA.
As is the life of a star on the Lakers.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook has the ability to start and take control of the 2013 NBA All-Star Game. He's also set to change his pace this season, as he takes on an approach similar to what we've seen of him with Team USA.
All-out defense above all else with an emphasis on intelligent shot selection. Continue to expect big numbers with a curve on the defensive end of things for the game's most athletic player.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers
LaMarcus Aldridge is a legitimate threat to miss the cut this season, as his Portland Trail Blazers are headed for a year in the basement. The team will be led by a rookie point guard and really did nothing to improve the quality of their team for the 2013 season.
Nevertheless, Aldridge does deserve this nod. He's one of the most polished offensive big men in the league and has improved tremendously on the glass. He took a turn towards stardom quite some time ago but the finishing stages of becoming elite may take place in 2012.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins was an absolute monster in 2012. Cousins finished the season with averages of 18.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per contest. He also established himself as, arguably, the best young power forward on the rise.
DeMarcus Cousins has a smooth stroke on his jump shot and has range out to the three-point line. He's also one of the best low-post scorers the game has to offer, as well as the strength and physicality to bully an opponent in the paint.
Don't be fooled, though. Cousins is certainly quick enough to blow by you for a driving jam; the type of highlight that will aid DeMarcus Cousins in his rise to fame.
Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
Rudy Gay has been on the cusp of greatness for quite some time. In 2013, with O.J. Mayo gone and the responsibility of leading the perimeter into battle on Gay's shoulders, expect the Connecticut alum to make the leap.
Gay will have a career year scoring the basketball and even add some impressive rebounding and steals numbers. He'll continue to improve in his anticipation of the passing lines, while maintaining his aggressive nature. This will lead to scores in transition and big numbers.
Numbers that will play a major factor once the All-Star reserves are selected.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
There will inevitably be some outrage over the fact that Blake Griffin is not starting the All-Star Game. This, however, is merely a product of the fact that Kevin Love is finally receiving the attention he deserves.
Blake Griffin will make another All-Star team due to his explosiveness, big time dunking ability and freakish athleticism. He'll also find his name on the roster because of the fact that his game is constantly evolving. Most important of all to voters, however, will be the fact that Griffin can score and rebound like there's no tomorrow.
Even if he can't block a shot, he can throw down 10 at any given minute.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki isn't done just yet, folks.
While the Dallas Mavericks have been severely depleted by free agency, Dirk Nowitzki may actually be in a better place now. His supporting cast has been broken up, although each member was well over 30 years old. Now, the Mavs have a strong group of young players to support Nowitzki's title quest.
Regardless of how close Nowitzki ends up coming to a title, his numbers will be tremendous. This will lead to votes by fans and undeniable interest from his peers. One way or another, Dirk Nowitzki will make this team.