5 Guaranteed First-Time NBA All-Stars in 2018

Joel Embiid

The charismatic center was awfully close to cracking the All-Star squad last season, but will finally earn a spot in his sophomore year. If his historic stat line posted against the Lakers this year wasn’t convincing enough, being one of only two players (Anthony Davis) averaging more than 20 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks over the season should be.

Embiid epitomizes All-Star weekend. He’s entertaining, has a sense of humor, and is incredibly talented. Put him in all the events — Slam Dunk, Three-Point, Skills Challenge, Celebrity Game, etc. He’s as must-see as it gets in the league today.

Victor Oladipo

It’s safe to say Oladipo is for real. The Pacers’ guard continues to post career-highs across the board with half the season in the books. His 24.6 points-per-game average is good for 11th in the league. Oladipo is converting at a higher clip from just about every spot on the floor. He’s making 53.4-percent of his twos — including 66.7-percent of shots inside of three feet (up from 60.7-percent last season).

Most remarkably has been his work from beyond the arc. The same guy that Houston completely ignored on the perimeter in the playoffs last season (24-percent on threes in that series) is now up to a 41-percent conversion rate on 6.3 three point attempts per game.

In total, there are only four players in the league that sink a higher percentage of threes at a higher volume than Vic: Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Lou Williams, and (coincidentally) Paul George.

He’s the leader on one of the best stories in the NBA this year (the 21-20 Indiana Pacers). Oladipo deserves all of the recognition he’s getting for the work he’s put in this year.

Bradley Beal

With Paul George and Jimmy Butler out of the way, Beal looked poised to make his first All-Star appearance in 2018 before the season even began. He has failed to disappoint — posting career highs in points, assists, and rebounds this year.

For all the talk John Wall gets (and rightfully so), Beal is on pace to outscore his flashy point guard for the second season in a row.

This one’s a no-brainer, as Beal has a strong claim for being the best shooting guard in the East.

Kristaps Porzingis

Although the Latvian sensation has hit a snag of late (39.9-percent from field since start of December), his play from the start of the year makes him a shoe-in. Much like Embiid, Porzingis brings life to any game he’s involved in. The 7’3” three-point-slinging-shot-blocking-menace has stolen the hearts of New York Knicks fans and League Pass aficionados across the globe.

Helping KP’s case has been the Knicks’ record this year. Not many would have pegged this team to be a playoff contender — particularly when it signed 52-year old Jarrett Jack to be their starting point guard, and gave Tim Hardaway Jr. a billion dollars over the next four seasons.

For dragging the Knicks from the pits of unwatchability, the NBA can show their appreciation by granting the Unicorn an All-Star spot (and he HAS to be there to defend his Skills Challenge championship, of course).

Karl-Anthony Towns

There’s a noticeable trend with the prior four names on this list: they all play in the Eastern Conference. Although both conferences are tighter in terms of the standings this year (the East actually has a winning record over the West thus far), the majority of the NBA’s star power resides out west.

Mainstays such as Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant are locks. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson get the benefit of the doubt by being on the best team in the league. DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin will battle it out for the big man spots. That’s not even mentioning Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul –who have missed major chunks of the season this year. The Western Conference roster is tough to crack, but if anybody has a chance at making their first All-Star appearance, it’s the former No. 1 Overall pick.

Towns’ numbers are actually a bit down from last year. However, the Timberwolves are comfortably positioned to make their first playoff appearance since 2004. For further proving that he isn’t just an empty stats guy, Towns has earned a spot at the big kid’s table.

Sources: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports, Trevor Ruszkowski//USA TODAY Sports, Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports, Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports, Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports, SI.com, USAToday.com