Only Tim Duncan, Yao Ming and Blake Griffin have made the NBA All-Star Game as rookies. In fact, only 45 players have done so since 1951, when legendary Boston Celtics starter Bob Cousy accomplished the feat for the first time.
Can any of the prospects in the 2013 NBA draft class accomplish the feat?
It might be too early to tell, but the current collection of draft prospects is littered with steady, consistent guys who will be able to contribute to rosters right away and do so in a manner that should gain national attention.
Remember—making the All-Star Game is no easy task these days.
Fan votes weigh down the actuality of the product on the court, meaning that the most popular players usually get the nod over guys who might be more deserving on a year-to-year basis. The saving grace? The All-Star Game is for the fans and not the players.
However, this draft has a chance to send the 46th player to this honor, even if it is considered devoid of the big-time star and therefore "weak" by some standards. Steady, NBA-ready players might not capture early headlines, but you'd be surprised how far that goes to capturing attention by the time voting is in full swing.
Although extremely difficult to attain, here's a look at three of the current 2013 draft prospects who have the best chance to join this elusive club during their rookie seasons.
Complete 2013 NBA Draft Lottery Order
|6.||New Orleans Pelicans|
|10.||Portland Trail Blazers|
|12.||Oklahoma City Thunder (via Raptors)|
Prospects Who Will Be All-Star Candidates
SF Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
A consensus first-team All-American and the Big East Player of the Year, Porter became one of the country's most impressive prospects before our eyes during his sophomore season with the Hoyas.
Averaging over 16 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Porter dazzled fans with his ability to be efficient on offense, run the floor in transition and guard multiple positions for coach John Thompson III during his time in D.C.
Make no mistake—Porter will be drafted to start this June.
According to ESPN's Chad Ford, he's even a candidate for the No. 1 pick:
One dark horse for No. 1 pick? Georgetown's Otto Porter.Cavs love him. Perfect fit. Helps right away.— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) May 22, 2013
Washington, Sacramento, New Orleans and Detroit also all make sense as logical landing spots for Porter come June's draft night, and each would afford him the opportunity to start as a rookie and prove that his improvement from freshman to sophomore can continue when he takes the court next season in the NBA.
If he continues his red-hot shooting from the three-point line (42.2 percent) and is as efficient from the field as he was in college, there's no reason Porter shouldn't be a hot candidate to make the All-Star game as a rookie for the team that selects him this year.
He's not the kind of player who will take over a game or be expected to average 25 points a game for his team to win games. Comparing his game to that of former Piston Tayshaun Prince, Porter can capture the national audience by staying disciplined on defense and asserting himself as an option in the full court when play opens up during the 2013-14 season.
SG Ben McLemore, Kansas
McLemore draws comparisons to Ray Allen for his sharpshooting ability and his penchant for taking the three in big moments during his freshman season at Kansas.
Allen didn't make the All-Star game as a rookie all the way back in the prehistoric ages of the 1996-97 season, but McLemore, in the right system and the green light from whoever is his coach next season, certainly is among the players who need to be mentioned in this conversation.
McLemore exploded during certain points of his redshirt freshman season, posting three games with at least 30 points and a slew of others where he hit the 20-plus point mark. The knock on McLemore, though, is consistency, which will plague him during his rookie season in the NBA, too.
However, if McLemore heads to a team like Charlotte, Orlando or Phoenix next season, he'll have the green light the moment he signs the dotted line on his rookie contract. With that green light, it wouldn't be a surprise to see McLemore shoot more than the 10.8 times he did at Kansas, especially with 49.5 and 42 percent field-goal and three-point percentages backing his claim to his new head coach.
A special talent among the guards in this draft, McLemore should average 20 points per game for whichever lottery team makes him its first-round pick in this draft. Sure, those are lofty standards for a player who will adjust to the NBA game and will have to contend with the deeper three-point shot, but that's how much his game should fit the NBA mold.
If McLemore can improve his isolation situation before he starts his NBA career, he's a no-brainer candidate to both score in bunches and maybe assert himself as a candidate to make the All-Star Game—a claim likely enhanced by Kobe Bryant missing most of the first part of next season with injury.
PG Trey Burke, Michigan
If the National Player of the Year isn't in the conversation for this mantle, who should be?
Burke lit the world on fire during his two years at Michigan. He was a borderline top pick when his freshman season was over and asserted himself as exactly that during his deep tournament run at Michigan last season.
Simply put, he's the best player in the draft this season. As ESPN's Stats & Info reported on Twitter, his ability to make plays is statistically the best ratio of any Wooden winner:
Trey Burke declares for NBA draft-- His 3.0 assist/turnover ratio last season was the best for any Wooden Award winner— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2013
Burke makes plays with his shot, his passing ability and his defense, and he's in the same position as current NBA Rookie of the Year and Portland Trail Blazer Damian Lillard—he's the best point guard on the board and should have full control of whatever team drafts him this season.
If he does get drafted by a team that needs him to sit for a year, then the All-Star dream likely dies.
If he does get a chance to start full-time, though, there's no reason not to expect him to perform the same way he did at Michigan during his two-year stint with the school. Lillard had a legitimate chance to make the team as a rookie, although point guard is arguably the NBA's biggest strength these days.
Which player is most likely to make the All-Star team as a rookie?
No matter what happens—these three future professionals should be fun to watch as rookies.
There's always a learning curve in the NBA, and it often swallows up guys from accomplishing this particularly impressive feat. If they fail to do so this year, these three guys should be on your list of guys who could make the game in the very near future, if nothing else.
Sure—this piece errs on the side of optimism for these prospects. But that's what makes the draft (in all sports) special, and it's a great chance to highlight three guys who will be fun to watch at the next level for years to come.
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