NBA All-Star Game 2013: First-Time Selections Set to Explode in Houston

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2013

January 11, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) during warmups before the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

More than half a dozen NBA All-Stars will make their first career appearance in the annual All-Star Game on Sunday night in Houston, but only a select few are set to explode inside the jam-packed Toyota Center. 

On the Western Conference squad, James Harden will make his All-Star Game debut. Meanwhile on the Eastern Conference team, Tyson Chandler, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, Brook Lopez and Joakim Noah are all gearing up for their first ever All-Star Game.

So, who's primed for a huge game this weekend?

Let's take a look.


James Harden, Houston Rockets, West

James Harden will be reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on Sunday night, which should make for a big game from all three, but Harden especially, who will be playing inside his home arena.

Plus, the former Sun Devil is the league's fifth-leading scorer this season, averaging over 26 points per game for the Houston Rockets on close to 45 percent shooting from the field.

With Harden sure to get plenty of love from the fans in attendance at the Toyota Center on Sunday night every time he touches the ball, look for his Western Conference teammates to feed him the ball on nearly ever opportunity they get.

If that's the case, Harden will have a great shot to win 2013 All-Star Game MVP honors this weekend.


Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers, East

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday is one of the NBA's top floor generals, averaging 8.8 assists per game, ranking him fourth in the league in that category. Oh yeah, and he's scoring over 19 points per game as well.

Like Harden, Holiday will make his first career All-Star appearance Sunday in Houston, where he'll be able to rack up easy dimes by dishing the ball to prolific scorers like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

It's hard to believe that Holiday is only 22 years old with him producing the way he is and still getting better year after year. But it will be even more difficult to fathom come Sunday night in Houston.


Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, East

With Boston's Rajon Rondo out for the season with an ACL injury,  Holiday and Kyrie Irving should both get plenty of playing time for the East.

Given his ability to put up points in bunches, Irving is certain to see the court plenty on Sunday. The league's sixth-leading scorer, the former No. 1 overall pick is averaging close to 24 points per game this season while shooting better than 47 percent from the field and nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc. 

Contrary to Holiday, Irving is a score-first point guard and the numbers back it up. He ranks just 29th in the NBA in assists this season, averaging 5.5 per night.

Don't expect Irving to be shy or intimidated by all of the superstar talent surrounding him on Sunday night. He's a gamer, and one of the most lethal and versatile scorers in today's game. The second-year point guard is a dark horse to win the 2013 All-Star Game MVP.


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