Before the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend, we knew which studs would be playing, but that was never the fun part. We’d rather talk about who should’ve made it. Did you really think Anthony Davis deserved to be an All-Star before DeMarcus Cousins? The season that Cousins is having still blows my mind that he didn’t make the All-Star team, although we all know why: His team is terrible.
Since the All-Star snubs continue to make a conversation, I’ve come up with a list of good players who may just be All-Star snubs for life. These players may not make it simply because of their age, personality, style of play, the team they play on, or competition–a few I almost listed included Josh Smith and Ty Lawson but I think eventually they’ll find a way to make at least one midseason team. Here is my list of ten good players who may never make an NBA All-Star team in their career.
*** *** ***
10. Andrea Bargnani
Barganani has the size, but doesn’t quite have all the tools that a coach wants out of a seven-footer. He’s a versatile player who can stretch the floor for a power forward/center. Unfortunately, I see his style of play as a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki when it comes to his offensive game. He isn’t as explosive and doesn’t post up as well one-on-one the way Nowitzki does. However, I still see him as a solid player who has the ability to prolong his NBA career for quite some years with his size and skill. What’s holding Bargnani back from being an All-Star is his defensive liability for a post player, lacking in the rebounding category. I mean, for a seven-footer–who’s playing in his eighth season–to only average 4.9 rebounds per game in his career is absolutely poor.
9. Ryan Anderson
I don’t care if you can shoot threes and play outside. It doesn’t matter if you can shoot the ball for someone who stands at 6-10. If your name is Ryan Anderson, there’s no way you’re making an All-Star team based off of your name alone and style of play. I feel bad because Anderson can flat-out score. He can shoot your team into games and keep them close being the best scorer on a bad team. He’s always a good candidate for the Three-Point Shootout each year. He was having a career year through 22 games with the Pelicans this season, averaging over 19 points and six rebounds per game. But if you get stereotyped as a role-playing, streak-shooter–as Anderson has–you aren’t going to make the All-Star team over guys like Kevin Love or Blake Griffin in the West. At the end of the day, it’s tough to see a guy like him as a West All-Star big man.
8. Kevin Martin
He’s been one of the best scorers in this game year in and year out. You can’t blame him for only averaging 14 points per night last season with Oklahoma City. We all know he came off the bench and played alongside Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Yet, at this point in his career, Martin won’t make an All-Star team as he’s aging and starting to hit the declining years in his career. He was a prolific scorer in Sacramento and even during his short few years in Houston. He never really got the exposure of playing on a winning team with a big fanbase, beyond his one year coming off the bench in OKC. Now he’s on yet another losing team in Minnesota, whose team belongs to Kevin Love. So despite shooting 42.6 percent from beyond the arc last season and nearly 40 percent in his career, he’s a little too old and it’s a bit too late. Martin won’t make an All-Star team–perhaps playing some defense could have helped his chances.
7. Brandon Jennings
It must be tough being Brandon Jennings these days. He didn’t get the offer he was looking for this summer, in addition to being left off Team USA a few years back because, as he claims, of his shoe deal with Under Armour. It took until mid July for Jennings to agree to a sign-and-trade with the Detroit Pistons, who reportedly will pay him $25 million for three years, when he was looking for an offseason deal worth $12 million per year. But you can’t blame GMs, who really noticed the breakdown in his game.
All of these things going wrong for Jennings will only add fire to his flame, and put a bigger chip on his shoulder. I’m sure he’s disappointed that John Wall made the All-Star team before he did. As a talented scoring point guard, he really needs to learn how to take better shots and prove that he can be a leader of a winning team before being named an NBA All-Star. In my mind, he doesn’t have the tools yet to do that, and likely won’t ever make it once Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo are back at full strength.
6. DeAndre Jordan
Despite being a terrible free throw shooter, what hinders him from making the All-Star team is the competition between big guys out West. He’s having a career year, averaging 10.0 points and 14.1 rebounds per game, but his name isn’t big enough to measure up with Dwight Howard or even his own teammate Blake Griffin. He gets overshadowed by the two obvious Clippers players who will most likely make the All-Star team each year. Maybe if he improved his free throw shooting, Jordan would make a stronger case to be an All-Star. I feel bad because Jordan may not ever make an All-Star team having to compete with Love, Griffin, Howard and Nowitzki for years to come.
5. Monta Ellis
Since his days with the Golden State Warriors, it seems that Ellis has been an All-Star snub for some time now. He’s the type of player that can create his own shot and almost instantly score whenever he wants. Beyond his ability to takeover late in games, he’s created highlights throughout his career as a dazzling scorer around the rim whenever he penetrates to the hoop. In the 2010-2011 season, he even had himself a career year where he averaged 25.5 points and 5.3 assists, while averaging 41.4 minutes per game and yet still couldn’t make the All-Star team.
Ellis has always been that small two-guard playing in a small backcourt with players like Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and now Jose Calderon. Being so close to an All-Star appearance multiple times as a franchise player in Golden State, it doesn’t look like Ellis will ever make the midseason classic, especially now that he’s playing alongside another franchise player in Dirk Nowitzki, who will overshadow any player in Dallas. At this point in his career, it’s probably best for Ellis to just play for a contender, as he’s only been to the playoffs twice in his eight-year career.
4. Serge Ibaka
Ibaka had his best shot at making his first All-Star appearance this season. His statistics don’t lie, he’s having a career year with Oklahoma City, averaging 15.0 points and 8.8 rebounds a night, in addition to 2.6 blocks per game. At least for the next two seasons after this one, Ibaka will still be with OKC under contract, but with Dwight Howard now in the Western Conference, he probably has to outplay him and both Pau and Marc Gasol. He won’t make it over Blake Griffin because of his names, and Kevin Love is too versatile for a big man. LaMarcus Aldridge, at this point, is simply better, scoring a lot more points and even hitting the glass harder. So if there’s something to help Ibaka make an All-Star team, he must be more selfish. He’s playing on a team with two All-Stars already in Westbrook and Durant, but Ibaka is mainly known for his defense. To make the midseason classic, he needs to push his scoring up closer to 20.
3. Al Jefferson
Jefferson deserves some credit as a player. He has the Charlotte Bobcats in the playoffs as of now, and was a trade piece too early in his career for someone who had a ton of promise with Boston. The problem with Jefferson is that he’s always played for bad teams throughout his career (Boston before the Big Three, Minnesota, Utah, Charlotte). He can be a star on a bad team, but that will forever be the reason he won’t be an All-Star; He has that reputation now. If he can be a franchise player that helps his team win games, he has a chance at making the All-Star team. But for a big man at his age, it doesn’t seem likely anymore by playing on bad teams. At 29 years old and averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds this year, this might’ve been his spot. Jefferson is a solid player, but just doesn’t win enough to be considered an All-Star. Playing for Charlotte for the next couple of seasons won’t help his chances either.
2. Mike Conley
No, the Grizzlies didn’t commit franchise suicide when they extended Conley for five years and $45 million in 2010. He isn’t Damon Stoudamire, who regressed after his rookie season. Slowly, Conley’s game is on the rise. He isn’t a selfish player at all for someone who was given a questionable contract; he’s a reliable point guard who knows how to make his team better. Since receiving his extension in 2010, he’s led the Grizzlies to three straight playoff appearances, improving their winning percentage each year. He isn’t going to chuck shots like Brandon Jennings. Instead, Conley will take smarter shots and shoot a higher field goal percentage each night than other scoring point guards. But, at the same time, that’s his problem–he’s a team player who can defend and make players around him better, but often fails to be elite and take over as a go-to guy in crunch time. It doesn’t surprise me that John Wall made the All-Star team before he did. Conley, with all of that competition at point guard in the West, might never make it.
1. Goran Dragic
With the career year he’s having, you can see Dragic is a late boomer. This is probably because this season, he plays alongside a hungry point guard in Eric Bledsoe, who’s been dying for a starting job until getting his chance this season. But with the injury of Bledsoe, Dragic has kept the Phoenix Suns relevant, taking over the team in his absence. He’s brought his scoring average up to 20.3 points to go along with 6.3 assists per game this season and is shooting an absurd 56 percent over his last ten games. He should’ve been an All-Star this year; I’m not sure he can play any better than this. He had a pretty decent year last season, too, where he averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists per game as the starting point guard. He has the talent and tools to be a great NBA player as he’s starting to hit the age of his prime years. But despite his recent good play, I still don’t ever see Dragic being an All-Star. Everything lined up perfectly for him this year and it still didn’t happen.
What do you think?
Follow Terence on Twitter at @terence415.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.