The race to earn a place in the All-Star Game is always one of the more interesting sub-plots to any NBA season.
That will only be intensified this time around given the huge level of talent that is currently in the NBA. Even the lesser lights of the league that are expected to be towards the top of the lottery, such as the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder all have young players with All-Star potential.
There is often the option for NBA fans to bet on players whom they think will make the All-Star game with major sportsbooks, such as on the offshore My Bookie where odds can change throughout the course of the season.
The return of former All-Stars Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Zion Williamson, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons to the start of this season will make this race more congested than any that we have ever seen before.
Only 24 players will be named as All-Stars for the highly anticipated weekend in Utah on February, 12 from the Eastern Conference and 12 from the Western Conference, making it possible that we may not have any first-time All-Stars in 2023.
However, tell that to those on the outside looking in. There are several contenders that will have their sights set on a debut All-Star appearance this season, the best of which we have listed below.
Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves
The most obvious selection from this category of players is undoubtedly Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, who is also the favourite to win Most Improved Player this season. If he is in the conversation for that award, there is no doubt that he could be on the cusp of breaking his way into the All-Star Game.
Fresh from his popular appearance in Netflix’s basketball hit ‘Hustle’, Edwards has made the crossover to the casual audience and has all the charisma and personality of a star player in this league.
Averaging 21.3 points per game in his sophomore season, many feel Minnesota will only go as far as Edwards can take them this year. There are real expectations for them to make a run in the Playoffs this year after acquiring Rudy Gobert for a huge haul in the offseason. If Edwards is the driving force behind the Timberwolves being in or around the top four seeds in the Western Conference in January, expect there to be plenty of All-Star buzz around him.
Tyrese Haliburton – Indiana Pacers
Expect the Indiana Pacers to tank just as hard as anybody this season in the hope of drafting Victor Wembanyama. Trading Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon in the same calendar year made it clear which direction the franchise was headed, and they are still expected to move Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in exchange for future assets, too.
The trade of Sabonis saw the Pacers acquire point guard Tyrese Haliburton, who was subsequently handed the keys to the franchise. Haliburton thrived despite the ultimate ambitions of the franchise, averaging 17.5 points and 9.6 assists per game while shooting 42% from three-point range.
Still only 22, Haliburton has the potential to be Indiana’s franchise point guard for the next decade and there will be dreams within the front office that they can pair him with Wembanyama for years to come. In the meantime, however, the former Iowa State guard will have his sights on becoming a first-time All-Star in the Eastern Conference.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Oklahoma City Thunder
Had he been on a team with different intentions over the last two seasons, there’s a good chance that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would’ve already been an All-Star in the NBA. Playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder over the last two years has been to his detriment, playing just 91 games often because of injury but more because of the team’s determination to not win games and improve their lottery odds.
He knows what he’s signed up for, too — the 24-year-old’s new 5-year, $172m contract has now kicked in, meaning he’s tied in with OKC until 2027. As such, Gilgeous-Alexander knows he will have to rely on his stats over wins to get him into All-Star selection. The season-ending injury suffered by Chet Holmgren will do little to accelerate the Thunder’s rebuild, either.
The Canadian has been a 24-point per-game scorer over the last two seasons — along with 5.9 assists — and will almost certainly have to improve further on those numbers to squeeze his way into the game.