All-Star selections have become the de facto measure of good seasons, even though they’re really only the measure of good half seasons and rely on a gerrymandered system that splits players by conference.
But All-NBA teams – which evaluate a full year and aren’t split by conference – are a better metric for good seasons.
In the last eight years, 10 players have missed the All-Star Game and made an All-NBA team. Let’s have a quick look back on them and then project who the most likely players are to make the snubbed-to-honored jump this season.
- Second-team center: Marc Gasol
- All-Stars he jumped: Dwight Howard (third team), Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh
Gasol’s teammate, Zach Randolph, made the All-Star Game, and coaches were probably leery of putting two Grizzles on the team. Gasol also won Defensive Player of the Year, and as voters reflected on that award postseason in a way they didn’t have to midseason, they likely better-saw Gasol’s value.
- Third-team center: Tyson Chandler
- All-Stars he jumped: Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert
Like Gasol in 2013, Chandler likely got a boost when voters, selecting him for Defensive Player of the Year, were forced to look more closely to that side of the ball. Plus, Carmelo Anthony took what might have been seen as the one spot reserved for a Knick.
- Third-team forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph
- All-Stars they jumped: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce
Aldridge was a pretty big snub this year – even LeBron said so – so the Portland big man didn’t have much ground to make up. If anything, Randolph’s productio nfell off after the All-Star game. But they might have been competing against only the Western Conference All-Star forwards, because the East’s group just had to be filled out with someone from that conference. In perception, Duncan got his All-Star nod based on his career accomplishments and Griffin his based on his dunking ability. Those didn’t hold up for All-NBA. The other Western Conference All-Star forward, Love, played for a team that finished 17-65. A full season of futility is much harder to overlook than a half season of struggles.
- Third-Team center: Andrew Bogut
- All-Stars they jumped: Al Horford, Chris Kaman
Bogut was about the same player before and All-Star break, but his Bucks were not. They went 24-27 before the All-Star Game and 22-9 after, raising Bogut’s stock during the “Feat the Deer” euphoria that ended with Milwaukee finishing second in the NBA in defensive rating.
- Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
- All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger, Rashard Lewis, Amar’e Stoudemire, David West
Melo missed 15 games of the season’s first with an injury, and that’s likely what kept him from the All-Star Game. By the end of the year, 16 total missed games weren’t quite as significant.
- Second-team guard: Deron Williams; Third-team guards: Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady
- All-Stars they jumped: Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Allen Iverson, Joe Johnson, Jason Kidd, Brandon Roy, Dwyane Wade
Wade got hurt, clearing All-NBA space. Otherwise, what a confusing mess. When there’s a deep group of players – see Western Conference forwards this year – it’s not that hard for a snubbed All-Star to make modest gains and pass several players.
- Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
- All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Paul Piece, Rasheed Wallace
This was a lengthy and impressive list of players Melo passed. In his first elite season, it likely just took everyone a full year to really realize he was for real.
So, based on that recent history, which non All-Stars are most likely to make an All-NBA team this season?
Honorable mention: Arron Afflalo, Andrew Bogut, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Tim Duncan, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic, Lance Stephenson
5. Kyle Lowry
When a group other than NBA coaches, who’ve notoriously feuded with Lowry over the years, is making the selections, he should fare much better. The Raptors’ de facto designated All-Star spot went to the less-deserving DeMar DeRozan, but that type of thinking won’t matter as much at the end of the year.
4. Russell Westbrook
If all goes well, Westbrook will play 52 games this season. In 2007, Wade made the All-NBA third team while playing just 51 games. It will require perfect health once he returns and few signs of rust, but Westbrook has a shot.
3. DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and as you can see above, those usually fare well. Only three centers made the All-Star Game this year: Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah. Jordan would have had a strong case over Noah if they were in the same conference. In April, that will no longer matter.
2. DeMarcus Cousins
As noted with Jordan, third-team center is primed for the taking. Cousins got squeezed out in the forward-deep West, but if he keeps producing like this – proving his value over a full season like Melo did in 2006 – he’ll be hard to overlook.
1. Anthony Davis
Davis should fall off this list when Adam Silver names him Kobe Bryant’s injury replacement. But in case that doesn’t happen, Davis has already begun to build a strong All-NBA case. Plus, he’s just getting better as the year progresses, so he’ll likely look even more impressive by season’s end. He could make an All-NBA team at forward or center, further boosting his chances.
Suns 102, Pacers 94: Snub Goran Dragic will you? He came out pushing the tempo (the game had 100 possessions) and ran past the Pacers defense to score 28 points (on 21 shots) plus dish out 7 assists. Phoenix went on a 17-5 run in the first half and in the second quarter led by as many as 19. The way the Suns get out and run is a matchup problem for the Pacers, but they started to figure it out. The Pacers cranked up the defensive pressure in the third quarter (they switched Paul George onto Dragic) and won the frame 25-11 and it looked like they would come back, but every time Indiana made a run Phoenix answered. The Morris Brothers combined for 31 points. Roy Hibbert had 26 points to lead the Pacers.
Knicks 117, Cavaliers 86: Cleveland would trade Anthony Bennett straight up for Tim Hardaway Jr. right now. As for the game, the Knicks have won four straight games now, and while only one of those was against a team that is not a tire fire (Charlotte) it doesn’t matter. The Knicks are playing the small-ball lineup everyone called for (with Carmelo Anthony at the four) and it works. Like it did last year. Thursday night the Knicks went on an 18-2 run just a couple minutes into the first quarter and the game was over at that point, basically. Carmelo Anthony had 18 of his 29 in that first quarter and he got to sit down and play cheerleader for the fourth. Kyrie Irving had 24 for the Cavaliers and didn’t get much help (Dion Waiters had 21 but 16 came in the fourth when the game was all but over).
Warriors 111, Clippers 92: This was the third blowout game of the day. Golden State went on a 13-2 run in the first quarter, started to really pull away in the second and ran away with it. Stephen Curry had 12 in the first quarter, David Lee had 10 and both ended the game with 22. The Clippers looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back, ninth game in 14 days with eight of those games on the road. They looked tired. Blake Griffin had 27 and was 7-of-12 from the perimeter (if you say all he can do is dunk you simply don’t watch him play) but even he looked flat.