Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard are two of the best young guards in the NBA and both attended mid-major schools.
The NBA has seen many young players establish themselves as stars in the past few years. Some of these guys were relatively unknown heading into their NBA career.
When you watch professional basketball, many of the players come from the big-time schools seen on playing on television on a daily basis. Teams like North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky all produce a lot of NBA players.
One thing people don’t notice is the number of stars coming from mid-major schools. Some of the top players in the game today came from smaller schools and were not graced with the praise someone like Carmelo Anthony or John Wall received when they entered the NBA.
The mid-majors deserve credit for some of the stars they have produced, so here is the 10-man mid-major all-star team.
- Must have attended a mid-major school
- Schools must be outside of the major six conferences (American, ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC)
- Schools must have been a mid-major while player attended; for example, Roy Hibbert cannot make the team, although Georgetown is now outside of the major six conferences.
- College must still be outside of major six conferences (i.e. Memphis does not count as mid-major).
All statistics in this article are via Basketball-Reference.com.
College: Weber State
2013-14 Stats: 21.6 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.7 RPG, 44.6 3P%
Damian Lillard has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the league, and it’s only his second season.
Lillard’s Portand Trail Blazers are currently tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the second seed in the West. Sitting at 27-9, the Blazers have turned into a threat in the Western Conference.
Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are the leaders of this Portland team, and they have both been extremely impressive.
There is no doubt Lillard would be the starting point guard on the all-mid-major team. He has established himself as an extremely clutch player and can score in variety of ways.
Lillard has shown he can do more than drive to the hoop this year, as his three-point percentage is almost 45 percent. Lillard is a great young point guard, and the 23-year-old will continue to be one of the top guards in the NBA for the foreseeable future.
2013-14 Stats: 23.1 PPG, 9.4 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.9 SPG
Stephen Curry became a hot name after his magical run in the NCAA tournament, but people still questioned if he could carry his Davidson success into the NBA.
Obviously Curry has silenced any and all doubters throughout his NBA career and has established himself as possibly the most exciting guy to watch in the league.
There are few people in the league who can bring the thrill he brings on every single night. Watching Curry play is so intriguing because it seems like no matter where he is on the court, he can pull up and hit a shot, and he usually does.
Curry has one of the quickest releases in the league and some of the shiftiest moves of any NBA guard. His ability to split screens and stop on a dime to hit shots is unmatched by any other player.
The former Davidson guard has proven he is just as effective playing off the ball in the shooting-guard position as he is as a point guard. With Lillard as the point guard, Curry will slide over to play shooting guard for this team.
Imagine getting to watch this backcourt playing together?
College: Fresno State
2013-14 Stats: 23.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 SPG
Everyone knows who Paul George is nowadays. Last year, in just his third year in the league, George started to show how good he really is. He had a great season, but he really became a household name when the Indiana Pacers took on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
George and the Pacers eventually lost the series in seven games, but his heroics were not forgotten. The only question was: Could the 6’9” 23-year-old carry this level of play into this season?
If you’ve watched the Pacers and saw George play at all this season, you know he’s done that. He has been one of the top five players in the league and is someone who is great on both ends. He'll guard his opponents' best player while still being able to dominate offensively.
The mid-major all-star team would not be complete without its best player, Paul George.
College: Louisiana Tech
2013-14 Stats: 17.2 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG
Personally, I think Paul Millsap is an underrated player who has never received the credit he deserves.
This year Millsap has been able to excel in his first year with the Atlanta Hawks. The Paul Millsap-Al Horford frontcourt was extremely effective, and had it not been for Horford’s injury, it would have continued to be just that.
Millsap is a hard-working big man who can bang with anyone who comes his way down low and can step out and hit shots, too. He can score in a variety of ways, but he is also solid on the defensive end.
Millsap is a tough guy who can do a little bit of everything and is clearly the top power forward for the mid-major team.
2013-14 Stats: 12.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 BPG
I know Davis West isn’t a center, but for the mid-major all-star team, he is the starting center.
It came down to West vs. Larry Sanders for the job of starting center, and the choice was obvious. West is one of those guys who is just so solid, and he does the little things. He’s a tough guy who has his teammates' backs, willing to do whatever it takes to win.
West is not the flashiest guy in the league and is rarely going to put up numbers that will shock anybody, but anyone who watches David West play knows exactly what he does do.
Every team needs a glue guy and someone who is going to put the team first. West is that guy for this team.
2013-14 Stats: 14.1 PPG, 4.2 APG, 47.2 FG%
It took Jeremy Lin a few years to become a recognized name in the league after attending Harvard University. Everyone knows the story, and no one will ever forget "Lin-sanity."
Lin is having another solid year this year in Houston, shooting his best percentage from the field so far in his career.
The problem with Lin has been his turnovers, and with his assists down by almost two per game this year, it’s concerning that he is still turning it over 2.9 times per game.
Lin also struggles defensively, but having Lin come off your bench and playing behind some elite guards is definitely a great thing to have. The former Harvard guard would be a valuable asset to this team, providing a spark off the bench.
2013-14 Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.9 APG
Gordon Hayward is having an awesome year. Hayward has really taken his game to the next level this season, playing his way into a big payday at the end of this season.
Unfortunately, Hayward couldn’t crack the starting lineup due to Curry, George and Lillard, but Hayward is definitely the sixth man. Hayward is another guy who can do a little bit of everything. Having him come off the bench would be extremely dangerous to opponents.
The former Butler star is someone who can light up the scoreboard on any given night and showed that in his team's most recent upset win over the Thunder, where Hayward had 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
With Hayward being just 23 years old, it will be very exciting to see just how good he can become and which team he will be doing that with. Though his future with the Utah Jazz is unsure, one thing that is guaranteed is Hayward’s spot on this roster.
College: San Diego State
2013-14 Stats: 11.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 50.4 FG%
Kawhi Leonard proved he could handle the spotlight when he stepped up his game in last year’s playoffs. After the finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs, this year was supposed to be his year to emerge as a star.
Yes, Leonard has had a solid year, but he has not had the breakout year people were expecting. Leonard has continued to be an extremely impressive defender, and that is one of the main reasons he is important to this mid-major team.
Having Leonard and George guarding the wings would be extremely challenging for opponents to deal with.
Leonard is not just in that position based upon his defensive skills, though; his offense is important, too. Kawhi is not the most talented player handling the ball, but he is a smart player and efficient at shooting the ball.
Leonard is only 22 years old. He has a long way to go, but I still believe he will eventually score an average of around 15 points per game, and though he is not doing that just yet, he still fits this team perfectly.
College: Morehead State
2013-14 Stats: 10.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 54.7 FG%
Kenneth Faried is another young player who has had a solid year so far. His numbers are down in almost every category which is a little concerning for the 24-year-old, but it could just be due to his new coach, Brian Shaw, giving him less minutes.
Faried isn’t much of a defender, but his high energy offensively is something that should not be forgotten. The ability of Faried to come into a game, grab rebounds and score is extremely important for whomever he is playing for.
The forward out of Morehead State is one of the top offensive rebounders in the entire league, too. Averaging 3.0 offensive boards per game puts him at 15th in the league; however, Faried is one of just two players averaging that many while playing under 25 minutes per game.
Faried will continue to improve over his career, making him an important player for this team.
College: Virginia Commonwealth
2013-14 Stats: 6.9 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 BPG
If Larry Sanders can regain his form from last season, he may crack the starting five over David West. However, with Sanders just coming off his injury and having played only nine games, it’s tough to know where Sanders' game is currently at.
Sanders became known as a big-time shot-blocker last year when he averaged 2.8 blocks per game, but due to injury, he has not been able to get back to that level this year.
The Milwaukee Bucks' big man still has plenty of time this season to prove last year was no fluke, but with his points, rebounds and blocks down so far this season, I’ve got him coming off the bench.
Sanders is very talented, but the young former VCU center is someone who can still greatly improve over the next couple years.
The Bucks have a very good player in Sanders, and he definitely ranks as the top center out of all the mid-major players, but having him come off the bench is the best way to utilize his skills right now.