Who could become a first-time all-star this season?

first-time all-star
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a 42-point game against Washington this season. Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports

This season there have been plenty of players performing at an all-star level. But of these new faces, who might be a first-time all-star?

All-star voting opens up on December 20, and this season some players have been household names, while others have burst onto the scene. However, only 24 players have the luxury of being named an NBA all-star, so let’s take a look at some players who may receive this honor for the first time.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s name has floated around the all-star game for a few seasons now, but this year he’s on another level.

The 24-year-old guard is third in the league in points per game this season, putting up 31 a night. This year Gilgeous-Alexander was able to fully ascend to the superstar level that Thunder fans thought he would.

Although the Thunder post a less-than-stellar team record of 11-18, Gilgeous-Alexander’s individual numbers are too great to ignore. He will almost certainly be a first-time all-star in Utah come February.

De’Aaron Fox

Much similar to Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox has been a good player on the cusp of becoming great.

And this year in Sacramento, he’s done just that. His individual numbers aren’t too flashy, posting 22.5 points and 5.6 assists per game. But he’s adding something that Sacramento hasn’t seen in more than 15 years: wins. The leader of the “beam team” has the Kings just three games back of the top seed in the West and to become an all-star is a fairly simple formula.

Good player + good team = first-time all-star appearance for Fox.

Lauri Markkanen

Not even Nostradamus could’ve predicted that 31 games into the season the Jazz would be the seventh seed in the West.

They’ve been the league’s most entertaining overachievers and that’s largely in part due to a career resurgence from Lauri Markkanen. The Finnish forward is now in his sixth season and was considered a draft bust after the Bulls let him walk in free agency two summers ago. A ho-hum season in Cleveland resulted in his inclusion in this summer’s Donovan Mitchell trade.

But in Utah, he’s the MAN. Markkanen is putting up a career-high 22.4 points per game with 8.5 rebounds, and with the all-star game being held in his home arena, I can see Utah fans making their guy a first-time all-star.

Jaren Jackson Jr.

The Grizzlies are one of the hottest teams in basketball. Budding superstar Ja Morant was able to lead them to the second seed last season, but one of the unsung heroes of that team was Jaren Jackson Jr.

To start the season, the Grizzlies were still red-hot and Desmond Bane was averaging nearly 25 points per game before going down with an injury. In his absence, Jackson has stepped up big time. Jackson is putting up around 17 points per game shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field.

But the staggering stat is his 3.3 blocks per game. He’s a defensive menace for Memphis, and that value alone could be enough for him to be a first-time all-star.

Tyrese Haliburton

Indiana’s franchise point guard Tyrese Haliburton is one of the most enjoyable players in the league to watch. In his first full season with the Pacers, the 22-year-old is putting up nearly 20 points per game. But his real value shows through his playmaking.

Haliburton is averaging 10.6 assists per game, leading the league. Coupling his individual output with the fact the Pacers are in the playoff race, it seems that Haliburton is primed to become a first-time all-star.

Jalen Brunson

Everything is clicking in the Garden for the Knicks right now. A new rotation has the Knicks locked in defensively. But on offense, they have been aided by offseason signee Jalen Brunson. The fifth-year guard is putting up a career-high 20.4 points and 6.3 assists per game. A six-game winning streak has the Knicks sixth in the East.

And if they keep this up, Brunson may just be a first-time all-star.

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