Last season, five players – Ja Morant, Darius Garland, Fred VanVleet, DeJaunt Murray and Andrew Wiggins – reached a milestone in their careers as they were named to their first All-Star team.
Being named an All-Star is a big deal. This represents a big jump in status and can also be financially beneficial for the players. This season has several players ready to make their first All-Star appearance. Here are five of the most likely candidates.
1. Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves
After averaging over 20 points per game during the first two seasons of his young career, Edwards appears to be on the brink of superstardom. He already has All-Star charisma and he has a flashy game to match. Last season, Edwards became the youngest player in NBA history to hit 10 three-pointers in a single game, a feat he accomplished against the Nuggets in December.
Edwards is also behind some of the most vicious poster dunks the league has seen in the past two seasons.
At 21, Edwards is already a legitimate three-level scorer and still has room to grow. His numbers increased across the board from his rookie season to his second season. If he follows the same trend this season, it will be extremely difficult to keep him out of the All-Star Game, even in the talent-rich Western Conference, and it looks like he’s working hard to make that happen.
“I’ve been working on everything, man,” Edwards recently said of his offseason via Athletic. “I just get better. This year I’m trying to make that leap and be the best player I can be. Trying to get my team as far as possible… I feel like I’m working really hard, harder than me. I have ever worked before. I’m just happy with the results right now. I’m excited to see what it leads to on the court.”
2. Jalen Brunson, Nicks
Jalen Brunson blossomed in four years playing alongside Luka Doncic in Dallas. Last season, he averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, starting in 61 of the 79 games he played for the Mavericks. Those numbers are certainly solid, but his game in Dallas has always had to have a ceiling, playing alongside an extremely dominating defenseman like Doncic. Now in New York, this will not be the case, as Brunson will have the opportunity to shed Doncic’s proverbial shadow.
Brunson plans to be the Knicks’ leading defenseman next season (and beyond, given the fact that he signed a huge four-year contract with the team over the summer). With this difference comes an increase in responsibility and probably a major leap in production. First, Brunson will most likely not come off the bench for 18 games, as he did last season – and has done so previously throughout his career – so he will have more consistent opportunities to start early. games and perhaps a more specific role that could be useful. Plus, by paying him over $100 million, the Knicks would expect him to be extremely assertive. As a result, he will likely complete more than his career-high 12.8 shots per game last season, and he will also have a lot more ball in his hands to create for others.
Brunson should easily achieve career-highs in assists and points per game this season, and such strong performance could earn him his first All-Star appearance.
3. Tyreese Maxi, 76ers
Tyrese Maxey was something of a revelation for the Sixers last season. Having received inconsistent playing time during his rookie season, Maxi took over the starting point guard position in the absence of Ben Simmons last season, and he has never looked back – even after James Harden was added to the roster. His numbers increased with his increased role, and he quickly established himself as an integral part of Philadelphia’s offensive attack. His importance to the Sixers was demonstrated during postseason play.
From seasons one through two, Maxi’s performance jumped from eight to 17.5 points per game, and his assists doubled from two to 4.3. Most impressively, his three-point shooting has skyrocketed from 30% when he was a rookie to 42% last season. This improvement has helped him make a great addition to All-Star center Joel Embiid, and his ability to play both on and off the ball should go a long way to helping him fit in with Harden in Philadelphia’s backcourt as they move forward. Maxi has a relentless work ethic and if he continues to develop, there will likely be several All-Star selections in his future.
4. Colleen Sexton, Jazz
Sexton may not have been the most obvious choice at first, but after being traded from the Cavaliers to the Jazz – and he immediately agreed to a new, fully guaranteed four-year contract – he could be in line for a big comeback. season. Sexton played just 11 games last year after tearing his meniscus in November. During his time on the sidelines, he became somewhat of a forgotten man in Cleveland, due in large part to the coincident appearance of All-Star quarterback Darius Garland.
However, the year before, Sexton had averaged over 24 points and four assists per game and was considered one of the most promising young players in the league. In Utah, Sexton should once again be able to produce at a high level for a jazz band that is now in the midst of a makeover. The team may not be very good, but if Sexton plays well enough individually, he may be rewarded with an All-Star.
5. Tyrese Halliburton, Pacers
After a promising start to his career with Sacramento, Haliburton was traded from the Kings to the Pacers midway through last season, after which his numbers improved. In 26 games for Indiana, he averaged 17.5 points, 9.6 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. They call it filling in the statistical sheet. Now, after an entire off-season and training camp with his new team, the 22-year-old Haliburton may take another step forward.
With a Pacers team that will rely heavily on his performance, there’s no reason to think Haliburton can’t average 20 points and 10 assists per night. Doing so and becoming an All-Star are two of Haliburton’s individual goals for the upcoming campaign.
“I want to be a guy in my 20s and 10s and I want to be an All-Star,” he recently said via Basketball news. “For me, these are two personal goals that I think are achievable.”