Bulls fans would like nothing more than to see their hometown player Zach LaVine participating in the upcoming NBA all-star game in Chicago. All-star status though is easier to achieve when your team is winning and many deserving players may not be on hand to partake in the festivities.
It’s been 32 years since a Chicago Bulls basketball player known as “His Airness” won his first of three all-star game MVP awards, scoring 40 points on his home court at Chicago Stadium. That game in 1988 was the last time Bulls fans watched a local star play in the mid-season classic in their building. By the way, his real name was Michael Jordan, of course.
This year however could be different. Not only is the game in Chicago, but another young Bulls shooting guard, named Zach LaVine, has a shot to make the team. Averaging 23.6 PPG 4.5 RPG and 4 APG, LaVine is far from being a lock. His hometown popularity could be his ticket when choosing between players with comparable numbers.
Another hometown favorite is former Bulls star Derrick Rose. Rose may even be more of a fan favorite and deserving of the honor than LaVine. The former MVP, and local Simeon High School star, still hears MVP chants every time he comes to the United Center. Rose is averaging the best stats per 36 minutes of his entire career (25.2 PPG and 8.3 APG). It is almost mind-boggling to be writing that, after all the injuries and operations he has battled through.
Rose may win Comeback Player of the Year, or the Sixth Man of the Year award. If he is chosen to play in the game though it will be based more on his Chi-town roots than his current production as a reserve off the Detroit bench.
Best case scenario for Bulls fans would be for Zach and Derrick to both make the game and play for a stretch in the same back court. Unfortunately though, both Rose and LaVine are putting up great numbers for poor teams. There is a good chance neither player will be an NBA all-star this season.
LaVine and DRose can easily compete on the same stage as the all-stars from playoff bound teams. Still, they are just two of many really good players that may not get the recognition they deserve. That is especially true for players on lottery bound teams.
I decided to make a squad of the most deserving NBA players, from lottery bound teams only, that deserve all-star consideration. Some will eventually make it, some won’t.
Devin Booker, SG, Phoenix Suns – 26.2 PPG 3.8 RPG 6.5 APG. This will be the fourth season in a row that Booker, the best player on a horrible Suns team likely won’t get an official all-star nod. Despite his incredible output, he is stuck in a Western Conference loaded with talent. His only weakness is his 3.8 turnovers per game which is not surprising considering his team leading 29 percent usage rate.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans – 19.6 PPG 4.59 RPG 6.5 APG. Holiday has been one of the few bright spots for a 13-25 team that is waiting for their lottery prize Zion Williamson to return from injury. His well-rounded offensive game is complemented by his 1.7 steals per game, ranking him ninth in the league.
Hassan Whiteside, Portland Trailblazers – 15.8 PPG, 14.0 RPG and 2.9 BPG. There may not be a more polarizing player in all of basketball. The Miami Heat signed Whitehead to a 4-year $98 million contract after the 2015-16 season. Wanting more shooters, the Heat traded him to Portland after last season and he has returned to form, now leading the league in blocks. Whiteside is the definition of rim protector. I personally watched live as he blocked 10 shots in game against the Bulls on November 29th.
D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors – 23.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG 6.0 APG. Russell, who made the all-star team last season, is unfortunately stuck on a Warrior team waiting for Klay Thompson and Steph Curry to return. Russell will not make the all-star team this year, especially since he has missed a lot of action due to injury, but that does not discount his value and talent.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves – 26.5 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 4.4 APG. It’s no secret that Towns, a two-time all-star, is one of the best players in the NBA. This year he is even shooting 41.8 percent from three. However, he has been limited to only 23 games due to injuries and there is a good chance he does not make the cut this year.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves – 24.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.3 APG. Wiggins was the first pick of the 2104 NBA draft. While he is having the best season of his somewhat disappointing career, his chance of making the game is slim, especially with hometown Chicago favorite LaVine being on the fence along with him.
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks – 29.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 8.5 APG. Young has been nothing short of spectacular this season. His stats in many years would make him an MVP candidate. The strikes against him are that he does not play defense very well and his team with a 8-30 record stinks. He will make the rising-stars game but he has a great shot at making his first all-star game too. Don’t be surprised to see the fan favorite in the 3-PT shooting contest or skills competition.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers – 26.9 PPG 4.2 RPG 7.6 APG. The seventh leading scorer in the NBA, Damian will almost certainly make his fifth all-star game. Together with CJ McCollum, Dame is part of what many consider the best back court in the NBA. The Trailblazers with a 16-22 record have been a disappointment this year after making the playoffs for six straight seasons but Lilliard is certainly not to blame.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans – 25.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG 4.1 APG. Ingram has finally broken out to be the player the Lakers thought he would be when they made him the second pick of the 2016 NBA draft. Despite the Pelicans poor record this year, one has to imagine that a front court with Zion Williamson and Ingram will provide a young core to build around. He has a really good shot at making his first all-star appearance.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons – 17.5 PPG, 16.0 RPG, 2.7 APG. Drummond has been a beast in the paint, leading the league in practically every rebounding category, . In the 36 games he has played this year he has reached 20 rebounds nine times. In six of those games he also put up 20 points. Despite his teams 14-24 record, Drummond should be a lock to make the team.
Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards – 27.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG 6.6 APG. Beal has been nothing short of spectacular in the absence of five time all-star John Wall. As the fifth leading scorer in the NBA, Beal has a solid chance at making the team, despite Washington having the 6th worst record in the League. His only glaring weakness has been his 31.5% 3PT shooting percentage.
Devonte Graham, Charlotte Hornets – 18.9 PPG 3.9 RPG 7.8 APG.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Brookleyn Nets – 22.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.2 APG
The NBA all-star team above is made up of 12 players. I have chosen 11 above (not counting the honorable mentions) plus Zach Lavine. As the unofficial commissioner of the NBA, I have also chosen to add DRose as my 13th pick.
If you think I missed anyone, please leave your choice of an all-star caliber player on a losing team in the comments below. In the meantime, get ready to see the same players we generally see on national television and enjoy the show.