What do Jeremy Lin and James Harden have in common? They will both be NBA All-Stars for the first time in 2013.
The global sensation and the Sixth Man of the Year are veritable shoo-ins at this point in the season. What’s more, in one of those typical sports coincidences, both will be holding it down on their new home court.
They’re not the only ones who will be making their All-Star Game debut. So many more will just miss their first opportunity.
The problem is, there’s so much talent, but oh so little roster room: only 12 players a team, 24 altogether.
Many of those slots are already taken: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker, Chris Bosh and Tim Duncan are virtual guarantees. That’s more than half the roster.
Depending on injury, you have Steve Nash, Andrew Bynum, Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki, too.
For the sake of this slideshow, we'll assume those 18 players will be making repeat appearances, leaving six open slots. How many of those will be taken by first-timers?
It won’t be all six, for sure, but let’s take a look at the six players who have the best shot at making their first All-Star cut.
Stats are through Thanksgiving Day.
There are 120 players to choose from, 60 from each conference, “with 36 frontcourt and 24 guards from each conference comprising the list. Voters select three frontcourt and two guards from each conference.”
Of the 120, 77 will be looking to make a name for themselves with their first All-Star berth.
Here are those 77, listed last name first. Not easy to whittle this down to six spots.
Then again, there are still three months to go before the mid-February All-Star Weekend. Maybe some of those “virtual” guarantees won’t make it after all, opening up the East and West rosters for newbies and veterans alike. We’ll look at those bubble players on the final slide.
|Afflalo Arron, Orlando||Backcourt|
|Calderon Jose, Toronto||Backcourt|
|DeRozan DeMar, Toronto||Backcourt|
|Ellis Monta, Milwaukee||Backcourt|
|Felton Raymond, New York||Backcourt|
|George Paul, Indiana||Backcourt|
|Henderson Gerald, Charlotte||Backcourt|
|Hill George, Indiana||Backcourt|
|Hinrich Kirk, Chicago||Backcourt|
|Holiday Jrue, Philadelphia||Backcourt|
|Irving Kyrie, Cleveland||Backcourt|
|Jennings Brandon, Milwaukee||Backcourt|
|Knight Brandon, Detroit||Backcourt|
|Lowry Kyle, Toronto||Backcourt|
|Stuckey Rodney, Detroit||Backcourt|
|Teague Jeff, Atlanta||Backcourt|
|Terry Jason, Boston||Backcourt|
|Walker Kemba, Charlotte||Backcourt|
|Wall John, Washington||Backcourt|
|Bargnani Andrea, Toronto||Frontcourt|
|Battier Shane, Miami||Frontcourt|
|Casspi Omri, Cleveland||Frontcourt|
|Chandler Tyson, New York||Frontcourt|
|Dalembert Samuel, Milwaukee||Frontcourt|
|Davis Glen, Orlando||Frontcourt|
|Gibson Taj, Chicago||Frontcourt|
|Green Jeff, Boston||Frontcourt|
|Harrington Al, Orlando||Frontcourt|
|Hawes Spencer, Philadelphia||Frontcourt|
|Humphries Kris, Brooklyn||Frontcourt|
|Ilyasova Ersan, Milwaukee||Frontcourt|
|Lopez Brook, Brooklyn||Frontcourt|
|Monroe Greg, Detroit||Frontcourt|
|Mullens Byron, Charlotte||Frontcourt|
|Noah Joakim, Chicago||Frontcourt|
|Okafor Emeka, Washington||Frontcourt|
|Prince Tayshaun, Detroit||Frontcourt|
|Smith Josh, Atlanta||Frontcourt|
|Varejao Anderson, Cleveland||Frontcourt|
|Young Thaddeus, Philadelphia||Frontcourt|
|Allen Tony, Memphis||Backcourt|
|Collison Darren, Dallas||Backcourt|
|Conley Mike, Memphis||Backcourt|
|Curry Stephen, Golden State||Backcourt|
|Dragic Goran, Phoenix||Backcourt|
|Evans Tyreke, Sacramento||Backcourt|
|Gordon Eric, New Orleans||Backcourt|
|Harden James, Houston||Backcourt|
|Lawson Ty, Denver||Backcourt|
|Lin Jeremy, Houston||Backcourt|
|Martin Kevin, Oklahoma City||Backcourt|
|Matthews, Wesley, Portland||Backcourt|
|Mayo O.J., Dallas||Backcourt|
|Miller Andre, Denver||Backcourt|
|Rubio Ricky, Minnesota||Backcourt|
|Thompson Klay, Golden State||Backcourt|
|Thornton Marcus, Sacramento||Backcourt|
|Anderson Ryan, New Orleans||Frontcourt|
|Asik Omer, Houston||Frontcourt|
|Batum Nicolas, Portland||Frontcourt|
|Bogut Andrew, Golden State||Frontcourt|
|Cousins DeMarcus, Sacramento||Frontcourt|
|Davis Anthony, New Orleans||Frontcourt|
|Faried Kenneth, Denver||Frontcourt|
|Favors Derrick, Utah||Frontcourt|
|Gallinari Danilo, Denver||Frontcourt|
|Gay Rudy, Memphis||Frontcourt|
|Gortat Marcin, Phoenix||Frontcourt|
|Ibaka Serge, Oklahoma City||Frontcourt|
|Jefferson Al, Utah||Frontcourt|
|Leonard Kawhi, San Antonio||Frontcourt|
|Millsap Paul, Utah||Frontcourt|
|Parsons Chandler, Houston||Frontcourt|
|Pekovic Nikola, Minnesota||Frontcourt|
|Perkins Kendrick, Oklahoma City||Frontcourt|
|Scola Luis, Phoenix||Frontcourt|
Photo: O.J. Mayo of the Dallas Mavericks
Whether he deserves it statistically, Jeremy Lin will be a Western Conference All-Star. He might even start.
That’s thanks to the increasingly global nature of All-Star voting, enhanced this year with additional social media access.
Couple that with the Asian-American vote (which made Yao Ming a starter when he was already shelved for the 2010-11 season), the Houston vote (fourth-largest city in the U.S.) and very likely the holdover New York vote (why not?), and game over. Lin is an All-Star.
Lin is putting up a more-than-capable line this season, though not Linsanity numbers, per se. Still, the excitement he brings to the game, the following and his 10 points, six assists and two steals per game merit a spot.
James Harden is off the hook.
Harden is making his 2011-12 sixth-man season look like an off year. All of his important numbers are up this season—points, rebounds, steals, assists and blocks.
He’s averaging nearly 25 points a game, including 45- and 37-point outings, and has upped his defense, too.
Noah leads the Bulls in rebounds, steals and blocks and isn’t far off in points and assists, showing an all-around game (and determination) worthy of an All-Star nod this year.
Former Chicago Bulls coach and current L.A. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro agrees. He told ESPN: “He deserves it…I thought he was close last season or so; Jo definitely deserves it. Statistically, energy at that position.”
For Kyrie Irving, the 2011 draft's No. 1 pick and 2012 Rookie of the Year, the best is yet to come, starting with the 2013 All-Star Game.
Despite being a rookie last year, CBS Sports considered Irving’s absence from the 2012 All-Star Game one of “the five biggest All-Star snubs” of the year.
And Irving was having an even better sophomore campaign, averaging 22.9 points per game, before fracturing a finger that will sideline him for four weeks.
There’ll be enough time for Irving to pick up his game and get voted in. He’s popular, too, due partly to advertising campaigns such as this.
The Cavaliers stink again, posting a 3-8 record as of Thanksgiving Day. That will make it hard for two Cavs to make the East team.
Competition among the power forwards for the three available frontcourt slots will also make it challenging for a dark horse like the Anderson Varejao to make the All-Star squad. But he deserves a spot.
The ninth-year “center” is having his best season, averaging 14 points and an outrageous 14 rebounds a game.
Varejao is leading the league in efficiency, is second in total rebounds and has six double-doubles in 10 games.
It will be close here between Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday. Perhaps they can both make it.
But between the two, even though Holiday is tearing it up in Philly, I’m going to give the edge to Jennings for two reasons.
First, defense. Jennings is a monster. He already has the offense, though it’s a notch below Holiday’s. But his defense is ridiculous. He’s leading the league in steals by almost a full takeaway (an insane 3.3 a game).
Second, Jennings' impact on the Milwaukee Bucks.The Bucks are leading the Central and making a bid to be the surprise seed of the Eastern Conference.
Jennings has been on the All-Star bubble the last couple years. Now’s his time.
Any of these guys might find their way off the bubble and into their first All-Star Game, depending on how the next few months go.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers (18.4 PPG, 8.6 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Bobcats (18.8 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.4 SPG)
Tyson Chandler (New York vote might help. One of best defending centers in the game.)
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks (20.2 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.3 SPG)
O.J. Mayo, Dallas Mavericks (22.2 PPG. Most three-pointers in NBA)
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (19.3 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG)
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings (16.6 PPG, 2.0 APG, 10.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG)