It’s time for peak NBA offseason boredom: predicting this year’s All-Stars! Last year, all my predictions save for Jalen Brunson and James Harden made the cut, so hopefully I keep up my shooting from the field this year.
A couple things to note before we get started: No Washington Wizards made the cut, although Kyle Kuzma may deserve some looks this year. Also, I excluded Damian Lillard from this list, even though I predict he will be an All-Star. We don’t even know which conference he’ll be in due to his ongoing trade saga, plus excluding him let me sneak in an extra All-Star.
With that said, let’s see who made my cut.
- G — Jalen Brunson
- G — Donovan Mitchell
- F — Giannis Antetokounmpo (Captain)
- F — Jayson Tatum
- F — Joel Embiid
Last year, I predicted Jalen Brunson would start in the All-Star Game. He ended up controversially missing on an All-Star selection, but he helped his New York Knicks return to the playoffs. In the playoffs, which featured the Knicks’ first series win since 2013, Brunson put up 27.8 points per game and would have dragged them to the Eastern Conference Finals had they not run into the black magic-wielding Miami Heat along the way. Brunson is currently the second-best player in the league without an All-Star selection to his name (more on that later), and 2024 should be his time.
Donovan Mitchell is quietly building a Hall of Fame resume. The 6-1 guard has been an All-Star every year since 2020, holds the ninth-highest career playoff scoring average in NBA history and dropped 71 points in a game last year, every one of which was needed to win the game. Mitchell is handily the best guard in the Eastern Conference, and he should have no trouble maintaining his streak of All-Star selections.
Giannis Antetokounmpo should be a shoo-in for every All-Star starting lineup until his late thirties. Even though the Milwaukee Bucks had a legendary collapse in the playoffs, the Greek Freak will post stats in the neighborhood of 30/12/6 while anchoring the defense of a top three seed in the Eastern Conference next year. Giannis is the consensus second-best player in the NBA, and my pick for the Eastern Conference captain.
Last year, Jayson Tatum became the first Boston Celtic to average north of 30 points per game. The lanky, Swiss army knife forward is liable to erupt for 20 points in any given quarter, and each season he patches one of the holes in his game. Though there are innumerable questions swirling the Celtics organization at the moment, the one true certainty is Tatum’s excellence.
Joel Embiid is the reigning MVP, and even though he did not beat the “playoff underperformer” allegations this year, we would be fooling ourselves to think Embiid won’t have another fantastic regular season. Last year, Embiid put up a staggering 33.1 points per game, the fourth-highest mark of any player in the 21st century. Embiid is the two-time reigning scoring champ, although his points per game average will likely decrease a bit this year if teammate James Harden, arguably the best table-setter in the league, is granted his trade request.
- G — Tyrese Haliburton
- G — Tyrese Maxey
- F — Jimmy Butler
- F — Mikal Bridges
- F — Jaylen Brown
- Trae Young
- Darius Garland
Earlier, I wrote Harden is arguably the best table-setter in the league. Tyrese Haliburton is the reason that opinion is arguable.
Tyrese Maxey is the hardest worker in the league. Though he’s the longest shot on my list to actually make the All-Star Game, he is already a 20 point per game scorer with much room to grow his game.
Jimmy Butler, lest we forget, just dragged the eight seed Miami Heat to the NBA Finals, his second against-all-odds trip to the Finals.
Mikal Bridges averaged 26 points per game after his trade to the Brooklyn Nets last season. Throw in all-world defense and Bridges is primed to make the All-Star leap this season.
Jaylen Brown’s new contract has an annual average value above $60 million, and though the forward has recently faced mockery for dribbling shortcomings, he was the second best player on a Finals team.
Trae Young traditionally makes the All-Star game only in even-numbered years of his career; but few players are able to match Young’s raw offensive production.
Darius Garland is a playmaking danseur who is quickly developing into a lethal scoring threat — Garland shot 44.4% (!!!!) on pull-up threes last year.
The five toughest omissions were (in this order): Bam Adebayo, Pascal Siakam, DeMar DeRozan, Evan Mobley and Jrue Holiday.
- G — Stephen Curry
- G — Luka Dončić
- F — Nikola Jokić (Captain)
- F — Kevin Durant
- F — LeBron James
Stephen Curry is an inevitability on the court. The way he bends NBA defenses to almost singularly focus on one person is unprecedented, and the greatest shooter of all time has shown no signs of slowing down. Curry will be 36 in March and is still, at worst, the third best player in the NBA. We are desensitized to Curry’s greatness, so let me put it this way: since Steve Kerr was hired as coach in 2014, Curry’s Golden State Warriors had never lost a playoff series to a Western Conference opponent until this year. That’s an eight-year stretch where, barring major injuries, Curry was playing in the NBA Finals.
Luka Dončić puts up video game numbers night in and night out, and he has been both an All-Star starter and All-NBA first team every season of his career except for his rookie year. Dončić is capable of exploding for 50-plus points every night — last year, he put up the first 60 point, 20 rebound, 10 assist game in NBA history. He will finally have a full season with an All-Star caliber teammate in Kyrie Irving this year, so expect huge stats from the Slovenian superstar.
Is there anyone who still has doubts about the greatness of Nikola Jokić? The reigning Finals MVP is the consensus best player in the world, and he is arguably the most versatile offensive weapon the game has ever seen. With his arsenal of post-ups, shooting prowess and otherworldly passing ability, Jokić is a one-man offensive juggernaut. Jokić is already a top 20-ish player of all time, and he elevates his teammates unlike any player in the sport’s history. He will be starting in the All-Star Game for the next decade.
Kevin Durant has aged like a fine wine in the NBA. His midrange prowess is virtually unrivaled, and he routinely rips opponents’ hearts out with his automatic shotmaking ability. Though injuries are starting to pile up for the 34-year-old, there is little reason to think Durant will be slowing down as an offensive force any time soon.
LeBron James is finally starting to show slight signs of aging...a year after tying the record for most NBA seasons played. James has been an unstoppable force in the NBA since before I was even born, and his season stats of 29/8/7 last year approaching 40 years old is truly a marvel. James will no doubt regress this year, but stats in the neighborhood of 25/6/6 as the second option on a contending team (the first option when Anthony Davis is inevitably injured) is enough to get James the starting job.
- G — Devin Booker
- G — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- F — Jaren Jackson Jr.
- F — Lauri Markkanen
- F — Domantas Sabonis
- Jamal Murray
- Anthony Edwards
To make Devin Booker’s case, simply look at his playoff stats from 2023: 33.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game on 58.5% (!) shooting from the field, 50.8% (!!!!) from deep and 54.7% from midrange.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has perhaps supplanted Durant as the NBA’s most lethal scorer. An underrated aspect of his game is his on-ball defense, certainly the best among the group of All-Star caliber guards, except for Holiday.
Jaren Jackson Jr. is the best defensive player in the NBA, and his offensive stats will likely receive a boost to start the year thanks to Ja Morant’s suspension.
Lauri Markkanen averaged a very efficient 25.6 points per game last year for a shockingly competent Utah Jazz team and established himself as one of the premier scorers at the forward position.
Domantas Sabonis’ arrival in Sacramento culminated in the Kings snapping the longest playoff drought in American sports. Sabonis is a Jokić-lite with his playmaking ability, although he isn’t nearly the scorer or shooter that Jokić is.
Jamal Murray is the best player in NBA history never to make an All-Star Game. As a reigning NBA champion, the days holding that distinction are numbered.
Anthony Edwards is the NBA’s next great shooting guard. He’s been making strides in every aspect of his game year-to-year, and he is an iron man who plays nearly every game.
The five toughest omissions were (in this order): De’Aaron Fox, Kawhi Leonard, Josh Giddey, Brandon Ingram and Kyrie Irving.
Just for fun, here are players that I considered “borderline All-Star caliber,” but left off my All-Star predictions: Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White, James Harden, Jarrett Allen, Julius Randle, Dejounte Murray, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Zach LaVine, Myles Turner, Kyle Kuzma, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, LaMelo Ball, Bojan Bogdanović, Aaron Gordon, Ja Morant (excluded due to suspension), Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart, Bradley Beal, Paul George, Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum, Jalen Williams, Walker Kessler, Alperen Sengun, Victor Wembanyama, Fred VanVleet and Damian Lillard (who I excluded due to his unresolved trade request).
This exercise truly helped me conceptualize how talented the modern NBA is. My list of feasible All-Stars ran to 69 players — that’s nearly three times as many players as there are All-Star spots!
What do you think of my list? Are there any glaring omissions or outrageous selections? Let me know in the comments below!