First Time NBA All-Stars
The NBA All-Star game will have four new faces this year. New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown will make their All-Star game debut on March 7. It might have taken some time for Randle and LaVine, who were both drafted in the top 15 of the 2014 NBA Draft; it’s better late than never.
Jaylen Brown, the former third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and last year’s number one overall pick Zion Williamson, were both drafted and expected to make All-Star games regularly. For anyone who has watched Williamson in high school, college, or even in his short time in the NBA, it is no surprise that he is already an All-Star.
In 2014, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Julius Randle seventh overall, and in his first game as a Laker, he broke his leg. Randle fully recovered from his injury and returned to form as an above-average role player on the Lakers. Randle eventually left Los Angeles and signed a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he would play there for a year. In New Orleans, Randle had his best season in the NBA, averaging a career-high in points with 21.4 points per game and 8.7 rebounds per game, and 3.1 assists per game.
After a career year, Randle left the Pelicans and signed a three-year deal with the New York Knicks worth $63 million. Randle was consistent last season but took an even bigger step this year. Randle appears to be reaching his potential as he is currently averaging a new career-high in points and rebounds. Randle is averaging a double-double with 23.3 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game. Randle finally makes his first All-Star Game, and if he did not this year, he would have been considered a major snub.
Zach LaVine entered the NBA as a very talented shooting guard from UCLA. LaVine emerged in the NBA as one of the most explosive players when going to the basket. The former No. 13 overall pick spent some time in Minnesota with the Timberwolves before being traded to the Chicago Bulls.
After being traded to the Bulls, LaVine has taken the next step putting together three solid seasons, including this one where he is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists per game. LaVine is averaging 28.3 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, and 5.4 rebounds per game. There is no question that LaVine has proved he is much more than just a dunker in the league.
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Jaylen Brown is in his fifth year with the Boston Celtics. Brown might be the second option with All-Star Jayson Tatum on his team, but he is a damn good second option. On the year, Brown is averaging a career-high 25.7 points per game and is one of the best shooting guard/small forwards in the game. The former Cal Golden Bear might have taken a few years to develop, but he has significantly improved in each season he has been in the NBA. Brown has struggled at times early in his career but appears to have figured things out, and the NBA community has noticed.
Zion Williams has been nothing short of spectacular after being drafted No. 1 in the 2019 NBA draft by the Pelicans. Williamson’s rookie season was cut short due to injury and Covid-19, but he has picked up right where he left off in year two. Williamson has been compared to Lebron James in terms of being the next generational type talent.
In year two, Williamson is leading a young Pelicans team with 25.1 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. Coming into the NBA, scouts knew the potential Williamson had but were unclear whether his 6’7″ 284-pound frame would slow him down. Williamson shoots at a high percentage and dominates in the paint as he has incredible jumping abilities. This might be Williamson’s first NBA All-Star Game, but expect him to be in this game for a long time. At just 20 years old, Williamson became the fourth-youngest player to make an All-Star game behind legends Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Magic Johnson.