Talking All-Stars two weeks into the season? It happens when David Stern and co. attempt to stuff 66 games into 120 days. The All-Star balloting is already up on NBA.com, and you’ll start hearing campaigns emerge for players like Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler and LaMarcus Aldridge. But they’ll be players this year missing out just as there always are.
With that, I decided to show some love to the guys who will probably never make it for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s luck. It could be winning. Or it could just be media hype.
This is not a top 10 of players who’ve never made it. There are a few – mostly young players, but even studs like Monta Ellis and Rudy Gay who’ve been around the block – who easily have the potential to make an All-Star team or two (For example, I think eventually Ellis or Gay could break in to one or two midseason showcases. Therefore, I didn’t include them.). These are the guys I find that either 1) lack the high-end potential to break in 2) lack the big name or hype sometimes needed to drive a player into the showcase or 3) lack a situation that calls for them to not only put up big numbers, but more importantly to win.
These 10 guys are the NBA’s best current players I don’t believe will ever play in an All-Star Game.
10. Jason Terry
He’s in that Andre Miller career mode. Terry has forever been one of the leaders of one of the best organizations in basketball. He’s been Sixth Man of the Year. He’s made Finals-clinching shots and now even has a ring. But he’s never making an All-Star team. For his career, Terry puts up almost 16, three and five a night. Nothing about that stands out.
I really don’t think he cares either. It’s hard enough being a 6-2 scoring guard (ask Monta Ellis). Terry passed the “I’m going for mine” marker and into the “Nothing matters but winning” category a long time ago. Yet even now at 34, currently averaging 14.3 points and 3.9 assists, the JET sits just on the outskirts of the All-Star Game.
9. Luis Scola
Scola epitomizes the Rockets: hard-working, skilled but ultimately flawed. If the world only cared about one end of the court, Scola might be one of the best power forwards in the game. Instead, he’s a 16 and eight player who gets beasted nearly every night defensively. The Rockets are the worst defensive team in the entire league this season (108.1 defensive efficiency). A lot of that blame has to go to Scola.
Internationally, his awkward game turned him into a superstar. In the NBA, he’s maxed himself out at nearly 32 years old.
One final thought: to break into the All-Star Game as a power forward might be the single toughest spot. Nearly every team in the league has a four man who can give you 15 and eight on any given night. Scola has been solid for three or four consecutive years. But solid – on an average team – won’t get you far enough.
8. Marcin Gortat
One of my favorite young players in the league if only for his terrible Jumpman tattoo and the fact that he’s on my fantasy team. I respect his game enough that I almost didn’t take a Ginobili/Gortat swap my boy offered me just before the season started (Doesn’t he feel stupid now that he took down the trade offer before I could move on it? Manu’s out for a while.).
In the desert mess that is the Phoenix Suns, Gortat started the year off with a broken digit and a few pathetic lines. The Polish Hammer had averaged 13 and nine during his stint last season in Phoenix and was expected to make another jump. As it is, Gortat’s overcoming that atrocious start to lead the NBA in shooting (63 percent) while averaging 12 and seven a night. As probably the second-best player on Phoenix’s roster, those numbers should keep going up.
Gortat is like Tyson Chandler without the hype (almost necessary to make an All-Star Game when you’re on the edge). Chandler defends a little better. Gortat finishes a little better. But the difference came last season when the narrative was Chandler turned the Mavs from ashy to classy on the defensive end. He might not be having the same impact in New York, but that label will stick with him. All Gortat ever had was the dude with the ugly tattoo who backed up Dwight Howard.