Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Wade may just be hanging on, but Chris Bosh has a chance to blow up as the Miami Heat's new No. 1 option. The last time Bosh occupied that role, he averaged 24 points and 10.8 rebounds per game for the Toronto Raptors.
That was in 2009-10, but Bosh is still just 30. And everyone agrees he changed his game to accommodate his Heat teammates—not because he couldn't produce as a go-to superstar anymore. Bosh is going to dust off his old skills and cruise to his 10th straight All-Star Game.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Hornets
The paint-can promos couldn't do it, but a potential breakthrough season with a playoff-ready Charlotte Hornets club could finally get Al Jefferson his first All-Star nod.
Jefferson averaged 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds last year. Best of all, the then-Bobcats were sound enough defensively to hide the generally willing, but usually not-quite-able Jefferson grade out as a passable piece on D.
Hornets head coach Steve Clifford spoke glowingly of Jefferson to James Herbert of CBSSports.com:
He's a good leader and a good teammate, but the biggest thing is he came here and he accepted the responsibility of being the best player and he badly wanted to win. That was a big factor in our team having a year that we were happy with.
And Lance Stephenson's arrival makes the rebranded Hornets only better on the floor and a bigger story in the media, both of which help Big Al's case.
It's time. Jefferson is due.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks
Paul Millsap was cut far too early from Team USA's FIBA World Cup roster, but there's a good chance he'll get over that snub with a second consecutive All-Star berth.
The addition of a reliable three-point shot (Millsap made 76 triples last year after hitting just 31 in his previous seven seasons combined) has made the 29-year-old combo forward a major threat from anywhere on the floor.
He plays extremely hard, rebounds consistently and is the healthier, safer bet than teammate Al Horford to rep the Hawks in Brooklyn.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
It's hard to imagine Joakim Noah, who finished fourth in MVP voting and was named Defensive Player of the Year, topping his 2013-14 performance. But even if he merely comes close, he should handily earn his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game.
The Chicago Bulls are primed for a run this year, and Noah used Derrick Rose's absence to ascend to legitimate stardom. He's not a conventional, highlight-producing talent, but everyone—fans and coaches alike—know now how valuable he is.