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NBA players who deserve to go to the All-Star Game, but won't

The NBA has never been so talented. The league is so loaded with great players this season that there could literally be a third All-Star team with a roster of 15 players. Don't believe me? To illustrate this point, this slideshow will be naming 15 All-Star-caliber players who will probably end up being All-Star snubs this season. Before we get to the snubs, however, here are the 25 players who will likely be heading to Atlanta on March 7th for the All-Star Game:

Eastern Conference: Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, James Harden, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Bam Adebayo, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and Julius Randle

Western Conference: LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis (injured), Paul George, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Zion Williamson (Davis' injury replacement)

Note: CJ McCollum, Christian Wood, and Jimmy Butler would all either be All-Stars or All-Star snubs, but none have not played enough games to qualify due to injuries and coronavirus-related absences and therefore won't appear in this slideshow. 

Without further ado, here are the All-Star Snubs:

1 of 15

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
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What more does this guy have to do to earn some respect? Worry not, Zach LaVine, I think you're an all-caps ELITE offensive player who has improved dramatically over the past few years. Unfortunately - get ready to see that word a lot during this slideshow - LaVine isn't getting an All-Star nod in the East over the likes of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Bradley Beal, or Jaylen Brown this year. So it basically comes down to beating out Ben Simmons, the all-around best defensive player in the league on the best team in the East, or Julius Randle, the leader of the surprisingly solid Knicks who is averaging 23.2 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, and has 48-41-80 shooting splits. In other words, LaVine, who is averaging an incredible stat line himself (28.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.2 APG and has 52-44-85 shooting splits), has to overcome the Bulls' poor record (12-15). Perhaps he can swing a couple of last-minute votes by carrying Chicago to a couple of victories before the rosters are selected because this guy is absolutely playing like an All-Star this season.

Mike Conley, Utah Jazz
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Heading into this season, Mike Conley was already the best player to never make an All-Star team. As luck would have it, a recent injury will probably cost him his last best chance to make the team (he's 33 years old). Unfortunately for Conley, he's spent his entire career in the loaded Western Conference and the majority of his career on a slow-paced, methodical Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies team that didn't need him to put up huge stats at the point guard position. This season, he's put up his usual efficient numbers - 16.5 PPG, 5.8 APG with 45-41-82 shooting splits - but also incredibly advanced numbers like his plus-16.0 points per 100 possessions on-court/off-court net point differential. There's still an outside chance that he makes the team, but there just might be too much talent in the West to justify giving him a spot considering the numbers of games he's played.

Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
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Despite putting up All-NBA numbers (26.5 PPG, 9.3 APG), Trae Young is quickly becoming one of the most divisive players in the NBA, which will likely work against him when it comes to the All-Star vote this year. What makes Ice Trae so divisive? Well, for one, look no further than the photo depicting him goading the refs into some BS foul call. What he does is absolute garbage! He literally tries to flop any time an opponent touches him - it's much worse than James Harden. Seriously, watch a Hawks game sometime and let me know how enjoyable it is to watch (hint: it's miserable). So the flopping is one thing. The other controversial thing about Trae is that the entire Hawks' universe revolves around him...and it doesn't seem to be yielding many wins. Despite having a talented roster, the team is sputtering at 12-16 and he doesn't seem interested in changing the way he plays. In a normal season, Young might be a surefire All-Star with his numbers, but with some much competition this year, it seems unlikely that Young will be participating in the 2021 All-Star Game.

Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
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Though his numbers have fizzled a bit since his scorching start to the season, Jerami Grant is still putting up All-Star-esque numbers this season, averaging 23.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.9 APG with 44-39-88 shooting splits. Raise your hand if you saw that coming this season after he averaged 12.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 1.1 APG the past two seasons in Denver. Yeah, me neither. Unfortunately for Grant, the Pistons have the second-worst record in the NBA (8-20), so his chances at making the team are slim to none in a year like this. On the bright side, he'll at least be one of the front runners for the Most Improved Player award.

De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
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After an inconsistent start to the season, De'Aaron Fox has been an absolute superstar the past 14 games, averaging 26.5 PPG while dishing out 8.5 APG while shooting 48.9 percent from the field. And although the Kings are only 12-16, they're right in the thick of things in the race for the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference. If he can continue this hot streak, he might have a chance to supplant one of the Suns' guards for the final spot on the All-Star roster.

Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets
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After receiving a monster contract from Michael Jordan this offseason, Gordon Hayward has rediscovered himself as a lead star in Charlotte and, dare I say, justified his hefty price tag (at least for this season). Hayward is averaging a career-high 22.3 PPG, dishing out 3.8 APG and grabbing 5.5 RPG for an on-the-rise Hornets team that is competing for the playoffs (13-15). Hayward is also playing a highly efficient game, making a career-best 2.2 three-pointers per game and shooting essentially a career-high from deep at 42.2 percent (he shot 47.3 percent from three his rookie season but only took one three-pointer a game). Hayward, LaMelo Ball, and Terry Rozier make for a challenging backcourt to play against every night as all three can pass like point guards and shoot like shooting guards.

7 of 15

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC Thunder
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In his third season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has continued to refine his game and improve at a rapid rate. He's averaging career-highs in a number of statistical categories (PPG, APG, FG percentage, 3FG percentage, etc.) and has lead an extremely young Thunder team to competency (11-17) - something that was not expected of them after they trade Chris Paul, Dennis Schröder and Steven Adams, and let Danilo Gallinari walk in free agency. SGA is averaging 22.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 6.5 APG to go along with impressive shooting splits (50-38-78) through 22 games this year. There's a chance he makes the All-Star team, but it's more likely that one of the more recognizable names (CP3, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, etc.) make it over him this season.

DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
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After peaking as a scorer in Toronto, DeMar DeRozan has sneakily become one of the game's best playmakers from a non-point guard position. This season he's averaging a career-high 6.9 APG to go along with 19.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 21.7. Despite his often discussed subpar defense, DeRozan makes up for it (and then some) on the offensive end by constantly putting pressure on the opposing defense by attacking the basket - he's shooting 6.8 free throws per game - and either scoring, drawing a foul (he's making a career-best 89.3 percent of his free throws) or delivering a crisp pass to an open shooter. He likely won't be heading to Atlanta because his raw numbers aren't as impressive as some of his All-Star peers, but DeRozan is still an All-Star-caliber player and has the Spurs off to a nice 16-11 start to this season.

Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
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Tobias Harris is having a career year as one of the 76ers' primary scorers on the best team in the Eastern Conference. So why isn't he a shoo-in All-Star? Well, for one, he'd have to supplant either Julius Randle or his teammate Ben Simmons. This brings us to our second reason for the snub: It's pretty rare for a team to put three players in the All-Star game. So, it's basically going to be Simmons vs. Harris. And while Harris is averaging a career-best 20.8 PPG and has ultra-efficient shooting splits (52-43-90), Simmons is the engine that makes Philly go on both ends of the court. Advantage: Simmons.

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
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Nikola Vucevic is having a superb 2020-21 season, averaging 23.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG, and 3.4 APG with 48-42-82 shooting splits. He also has a PER of 23.4 despite playing for the 11-18 Magic, a team with terrible injury luck and limited roster talent. Vucevic, a one-time All-Star, has the numbers and advanced numbers that should make him a near-lock for the team, but Orlando's struggles, combined with his not-so-flashy game make it difficult for him to garner the necessary attention to get him on the roster this year. 

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers
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Casual fans might not even know who Domantas Sabonis is, but this guy is a bonafide stud...and he's only getting better. Sabonis was actually an All-Star last year when he averaged 18.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG. This season he's playing even better - averaging 21.5 PPG, 11.6 RPG, and 5.7 APG. In addition, with Victor Oladipo gone, and TJ Warren and Caris LeVert both out indefinitely with injuries, the Pacers are running their entire offense through Sabonis in the high post. The added offensive burden and career highs in points and assists would seem to make Sabonis a potential All NBA candidate, yet there's a chance he won't even make the All-Star team this season. It's a tough year to be an under-the-radar big man in the NBA, isn't it?

12 of 15

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans
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After winning the Most Improved Player award last season, Brandon Ingram hasn't taken a step back this season, but he hasn't continued on quite the same trajectory as he's averaging an almost identical stat line this year (23.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 47-40-87 shooting splits) as he did last year (23.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 46-39-85 shooting splits). He's still an All-Star-level player, but he leaves just a little to be desired on both ends of the court still. Some of that might be a product of adjusting to new coach Stan Van Gundy (or SVG not adjusting to the modern NBA). 

Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
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Fred VanVleet is the ultimate "bet on yourself" player, and someday, he should be an All-Star player...but probably not this year. FVV has been the Raptors' best player this season, averaging 20.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, and 4.2 RPG with 42-38-89 shooting splits. He even set a Raptors' franchise record earlier this year with 54 points and 11 three-pointers!! Unfortunately, the East is just too stacked at guard this season, and if Zach LaVine and Trae Young aren't making the All-Star team, FVV probably isn't either considering the Raptors' struggles early on (14-15).

14 of 15

Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers

Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers
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Malcolm Brogdon is quietly making a strong case for the Most Improved Player award this season as he's averaging 21.6 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.8 RPG with 44-40-91 shooting splits (last season's averages were 16.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 7.1 APG with 44-33-89 shooting splits). It's not all offense that Brogdon brings to the table either - he's a solid defender as well. If he was a little flashier as a player, he might draw a little more attention from fans, media, and players. Unfortunately, at least for his All-Star chances, Brogdon is the Steady Eddie of point guards - no flash, but excellent, dare I say, All-Star-level production. 

15 of 15

Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets

Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets
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Wait, seriously? Terry Rozier? Yes, believe it or not, Terry Rozier is a borderline All-Star this season! For the season, Rozier is averaging 20.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 3.0 APG with super-efficient 49-45-80 shooting splits. His efficient field goal percentage is at 60.2 percent too - very impressive for a guard. Rozier doesn't just provide the Hornets with great two-way play, he also has the propensity to catch fire and has had two games where he scored over 40 points and three more games where he scores over 30 points. He won't make the All-Star team this year, but in a less competitive year, he certainly could have.

Pat Heery began his sports writing career in 2016 for The Has Been Sports Blog. He practices real estate law during the day and runs pick & rolls at night. Follow him on Twitter: @pheery12

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