Five Potential NBA All-Star Returns This Season
A new NBA season is fast approaching once again. There’ll be a lot to look forward to: the exciting rookies making their NBA regular season debuts, the Play-In Tournament, and of course, the All-Star Weekend.
Granted, the All-Star weekend isn’t what it used to be. The Skills Challenge and the Rising Stars Game have just been kind of there to fill the weekend, while the Dunk Contest and Celebrity All-Star Game have gotten a bad rep in recent years. However, after years of lowering interest in the All-Star Game, the NBA has finally injected the weekend’s main event with some exciting innovations in the past seasons; the All-Star Draft system, quarter-by-quarter scoring, and “first-to-reach _” way of winning the game make for a much better ASG.
Some former All-Stars, however, have had the misfortune of missing out on the recent, revitalized All-Star Games for one reason or another. So, for this piece, we’ll be taking a look at five former All-Stars who can potentially take a trip to Cleveland for the 2022 ASG. These former All-Stars, whether it be due to a new situation, a new team, or any other factor, have better odds to make the game. All players on this list will have been former All-Stars who have missed the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the potential NBA All-Star returns of this season.
Likely NBA All-Star Returns For This Season
NBA Career Averages: 12.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists
We start off with one of the league’s bright young stars in Bam Adebayo.
The 6’9” forward-center is one of the Miami Heat’s cornerstones and has had a great career thus far. From an unremarkable first two years in the league, Bam has developed into one of the league’s best centers in his third year, helping the Heat go all the way to the NBA Finals. He had his then-career-high averages of about 16, 10, and 5, good enough to get him to the All-Star Game with teammate Jimmy Butler, as well as an All-Defensive Second Team berth. Adebayo was also nominated for the Most Improved Player award.
Last year, Adebayo posted even better stats of 18.7 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in the 2020-21 season, helping propel the Heat all the way to 3rd in the East before falling to the 6th seed. These feats were enough for Bam to get selected in the All-Defensive Second Team for the second consecutive year.
Unfortunately, Bam wasn’t selected for the 2021 ASG, pipped by the likes of Nikola Vučević, Domantas Sabonis, and Julius Randle. Jimmy Butler famously declined an offer to replace the injured Kevin Durant in Atlanta allegedly due to this snub.
Nevertheless, it would not be a far stretch to say that Miami’s #13 is primed for another great year. It’s not a stretch to say that he could be a 20-10 player for the Heat next year, which will almost certainly be good enough to get him back into the ASG.
NBA Career Averages: 22.9 points, 11.6 assists, 3.0 assists
Despite posting All-Star statistics every season, Karl-Anthony Towns has been an All-Star snub for the past two years.
Towns is arguably the most talented and versatile big man in the NBA, rivaled only by the likes of Anthony Davis. Even Davis doesn’t have his sweet stroke from three.
However, the lack of team success has been a severe detriment for the Dominican-American big man. Despite his elite stats, the Minessota Timberwolves has only reached the Playoffs once in Towns’ career (and that was with Jimmy Butler there as their first option). With this, Towns has received more than his fair share of the “empty stats” criticisms these past few years.
Nevertheless, the Timberwolves look good as a team, arguably as good as they’ve ever looked since the short-lived Jimmy Butler era. Former #1 overall pick Anthony Edwards looks to continue his hot streak from last season, while being accompanied by former All-Star D’Angelo Russell and underrated pieces Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Patrick Beverley, among others. KAT has a chance to elevate this team with another elite year of production, and potentially claw his way back into the West All-Stars.
NBA Career Averages: 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists
Kemba Walker is ready to bounce back in the Big Apple.
The 4x All-Star has had a rather disappointing, injury-riddled season with the Boston Celtics. Walker had a successful first year in Beantown, getting all the way to the Conference Finals while gaining an All-Star starter berth; this was not to be replicated in his second year, getting bounced out of the first round by the Brooklyn Nets in five, breaking his four-year All-Star streak in the process.
Despite being named an All-Star starter in 2020, it was noticeably hard for Walker to replicate his Charlotte Hornets superstar form. The Celtics’ undoubted first option for the next decade is Jayson Tatum, while Jaylen Brown just established himself as an All-Star last season. With the two young stars set to be the team’s cornerstones for the foreseeable future, Kemba’s timeline simply did not align with theirs.
However, with a new team and a new situation, the 6’0” point guard has the chance to put up franchise player statistics once again. Kemba looks exactly like what the Knicks needed last year: an elite perimeter threat to provide ample space for Julius Randle. With all of these going for him, Walker can potentially take back his All-Star status this season.
NBA Career Averages: 20.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists
DeMar DeRozan starts off another new chapter in his career with the Chicago Bulls.
Deebo was a perennial NBA All-Star with the Toronto Raptors, getting selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team four times from 2012 to 2018. He was part of a dynamic duo with fellow former All-Star Kyle Lowry, before getting shipped to the San Antonio Spurs in the infamous Kawhi Leonard trade.
Undeterred, DeRozan still performed brilliantly under Coach Gregg Popovich. In his three seasons with the Spurs, he averaged about 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Unfortunately, he never made an All-Star team while in San Antonio, although he was considered a snub for all three years. The more stiff competition and lack of team success would certainly have played a part in him missing out on the ASG for three years.
Now, however, DeRozan is with the new-look Chicago Bulls looking to make a Playoff push. Here, he’s flanked by All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vučević, as well as quality pieces in Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, and Coby White. With this much firepower, DeRozan is bound to attain more team success. If he maintains his steady 20-point production, he has a rather good shot of making this season’s All-Star Game.
NBA Career Statistics: 24.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 8.9 assists
Surely there’s gonna be no Trae Young NBA All-Star snubs this season.
In his three years with the Atlanta Hawks, Trae Young has already established himself to be their franchise player for years to come. Ice Trae has already put up two 25+ PPG, 9+ APG seasons, while averaging just shy of 20 points in his rookie year. Through numerous heroic performances, he has also already led his team to an unlikely Conference Finals appearance, beating the 1-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the process.
In his best season, Trae averaged almost 30 markers to go along with 9.3 assists, good enough to be an All-Star starter in his sophomore year.
He followed this up with 25.4 points and 9.4 dimes next season, with a much improved team standing. Unfortunately, the 6’0” guard was snubbed in the ASG. Granted, the competition for the guard spots in either conference is extremely stiff; Young had to contend with the likes of Nets duo James Harden and Kyrie Irving, as well as Bradley Beal, who was leading the league in scoring at the time. Trae was also pipped by breakout stars Jaylen Brown and Zach LaVine.
With Ice Trae presumably about to continue his scorching form and his fellow young guns set to break out this season, more team success can be expected for the Hawks. Young can very well average 30 and 10 next season, which will surely get him into the NBA All-Star starters once again.