For years, All-Star weekend in the NBA has been dominated by the same aging players for close to a decade. You could annually expect to see Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and/or a number of other “old” stars get voted in because those were the only names fans knew. Remember when Yao Ming got voted in despite missing damn near a whole season? That was terrible.
But this year, there’s clearly a new breed of youngsters that fans are identifying with. That type of change signifies a new era in the league, all but closing the book on the late 90′s/early 00′s group that has dominated the league’s popularity in recent years.
You’ve got Indiana Pacers fourth-year rising star and MVP candidate Paul George being voted in as a starter for the first time, as well as participating in the Dunk Contest (where he’s a favorite to win according to the sites found on Sports Betting Dime.) Then there’s Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, who’s participating in just about every event possible. Literally.
Add to those two five other first-time All-Star selections, and you have an impressive list of new faces being introduced to fair weather NBA fans worldwide. John Wall from the Wizards, Toronto Raptors high flyer DeMar DeRozan, Atlanta Hawks grinder Paul Millsap, sharpshooter Stephen Curry from the Warriors (who should have been a reserve last season) and Anthony Davis from the hosting New Orleans Pelicans all round out a group of budding stars anxious to make their names household for years to come.
There’s still some familiar faces holding it down for the veterans. MVP candidates LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be front and center with Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony and a few others making their annual appearances in the starting lineups. This year’s roster might have the best mix of young and old stars that we’ve seen in over a decade, back when Kobe made his first of many appearances back in 1998.
The festivities kick off with the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night and cap off with the main event Sunday afternoon. If you’re looking to get acquainted with the future of the NBA, this weekend should be right up your alley.