While this year’s All-Star Weekend just ended, it’s never too early to start looking towards next season. This year’s game featured several first-time All-Stars including Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic, Nikola Jokić and D’Angelo Russell.
Which players will break-out next season and make the 2020 All-Star Game for the first time? Here are five names that could make the cut.
While he wasn’t in the All-Star Game this year, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum had himself a successful weekend. The second-year player scored 30 points in the Rising Stars game, and won the skills challenge in an exciting finish. It’s likely that this won’t be Tatum’s last time at All-Star Weekend.
The third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Tatum has showed a lot of promise as a player with the Celtics. Even in a slightly decreased role, as Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward have returned from injury, Tatum has still been productive. This season, he is averaging 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the field.
Depending what the Celtics do this summer, Tatum could be on a new team next season. Wether he is the focal point of a new team’s offense, or a key contributor for Boston, look for Tatum to continue to improve and potentially make his first All-Star team in 2020.
Like Tatum, Lakers’ forward Kyle Kuzma could be in a new spot next year amid Anthony Davis rumors. A new location could make him even better, or he could continue learning alongside LeBron James. Kuzma has a bright future in the league.
So far, he has greatly exceeded expectations as the 27th pick in the 2017 draft. Averaging 19 points and 5.6 rebounds this season, Kuzma has become a great second-option for his young Lakers team. Kuzma also made an appearance this weekend, showing out in the Rising Stars game, earning himself the game’s MVP award.
Like any young player, developing takes time. But Kuzma’s skill set and scoring ability could already be enough to make him an All-Star next season.
The Phoenix Suns have had an abysmal season so far, currently on a 15 game losing-streak. The silver lining, however, has been the play of guard Devin Booker. The 13th pick in the 2015 draft has developed into one of the best young scorers in the NBA.
Many considered Booker a snub from this year’s All-Star Game. Booker is leading the rebuilding Suns with 24.6 points, 6.7 assists and 4 rebounds per game. His scoring ability is hard to understate, once dropping 70 points against the Celtics.
It will take awhile for the Suns to be a decent basketball team, but they have Booker, along with rookie DeAndre Ayton, as a foundation. The rebuilding process might take several years, but Booker could start to make All-Star appearances very soon.
Dončić has already made his mark on the NBA. The Slovenian-born player has given the Dallas Mavericks a fresh identity and is running away with the Rookie of the Year Award.
The third pick in the 2018 draft, Dončić is putting up 20.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season. These kinds of stats are abnormal for a rookie, and probably should have included him in this year’s All-Star Game.
With new teammate Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks could very well make the playoffs next season. This duo, along with other young players, could be great for years to come.
Next year’s All-Star Game in Chicago could feature two Mavs, Dončić being a first-time selection.
Last years Rookie of the Year runner-up, Utah Jazz point guard Donovan Mitchell has become one of the best young players in the NBA. Last year’s playoff series against Oklahoma City showed Mitchell’s ability to lead a team, even as a first-year player.
This season, Mitchell is averaging 22.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4 assists. At sixth place in the Western Conference, the Jazz are looking to duplicate last year’s success.
While the Jazz aren’t one of the very best teams in the league currently, Mitchell is the franchise’s cornerstone moving forward. As long as he is with them, they will continue to be a competitive team in the West.
Expect Mitchell to continue to build on these past two seasons going forward, potentially being selected to this first All-Star Game next season.