Guard: Stephen Curry
In 2015, Stephen Curry received a league-leading 1,513,324 All-Star votes. This year, you better believe he will receive the most votes in the league for the second year in-a-row. As good as Curry was in his MVP campaign last year, he’s actually been far better this season. He has pretty much ended the MVP discussion already and looks to be on his way to a second consecutive MVP award. Curry has been absolutely unbelievable this season, leading the Warriors to a 25-1 start. There is no doubt he will be in the starting lineup in Toronto for the 2016 All-Star Game.
Guard: Russell Westbrook
Despite not being selected to the starting lineup for the All-Star game last season, Russell Westbrook came away with the MVP award for the night. Westbrook finished the game with 41 points, and quite a few memorable highlight reel dunks. After the All-Star break last season, Westbrook took his game to the next level and has never looked back. His improved play has solidified him as a top 5 player in the game, notching triple-doubles left and right. While he may not have received enough votes to make his way into the starting lineup last year, expect Russ to find his way there this season.
Forward: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant has been selected to a record 17 consecutive All-Star games, and that number will grow to 18 this season. In his 20th season, Bryant got off to a terrible start averaging 29.6% shooting in his first 17 games. Since then, Kobe has begun to find his legs and is on a bit of a hot streak. Kobe has turned things around, averaging 48.9% shooting in his past 6 games. Regardless of how he is playing, Kobe Bryant is still one of the most polarizing players in the league. As long as the All-Star game is a popularity contest, the fans will always vote Kobe into the starting lineup. Even if he hasn’t quite played at an All-Star level this year, since it is his last season, Kobe deserves to play in one final All-Star game as his farewell tour continues. If Kobe is healthy by the time February rolls around, you can bet on him representing the Western Conference in the starting lineup.
Forward: Kevin Durant
After an injury-plagued season, Kevin Durant is back to playing at an elite level. Durant has played in 20 out of OKC’s first 26 games, and is averaging 27.2 points per game. What is more impressive, is that KD is shooting a career-high 52.7% on field goals. Many would have expected Durant to take a step back after having so many problems with his foot, but KD has shown no signs of weakness. In fact, Durant looks as good as he ever has. Hopefully, KD can continue to play at a high level for the rest of the season, and stay healthy. If so, he will likely be the 2nd member of the Thunder to represent OKC in the All-Star Game this year.
Forward: Blake Griffin
Earlier in his career, Blake Griffin was purely known for his performances during All-Star Weekend. He has been a Slam Dunk Contest champion and had quite a few more dunks in the All-Star Game itself. But, Blake is far beyond just a dunker now. Last season, Blake Griffin became a whole new player and completely reinvented himself. All of a sudden, Blake has really improved his ball-handling skills, and most importantly has proven that he is a knock down jump-shooter. While he is still often found on the SportsCenter top 10, there is so much more to his game now. Griffin has made the All-Star Game every season since 2011, expect that trend to continue this season and beyond.
Draymond Green has never made an All-NBA team or an All-Star game, but both of those things will change by the end of this season. Aside from Stephen Curry, Draymond has probably played the biggest role in the Warriors success this season. As a 2nd rounder coming out of Michigan State, no one expected Draymond to be a potential All-Star, but he is proving all of the doubters wrong. While he is typically not one to make flashy plays, Green is essentially the ultimate team player, and one of the best power forwards in the league right now. He may not put on a show in the All-Star game, but you better believe he deserves to be there.
BOOGIE! DeMarcus Cousins was selected to his first All-Star game last season, and he will likely get voted to his second this season. Despite how poorly the Kings have played, Cousins has been one of the few bright spots in Sacramento. He has been the subject of trade rumors since the draft, and that will likely continue, but Cousins has found a way to play through all of the constant talk. The most surprising development in Cousins’ game this year has been his much improved jump-shot. He has even proven that he can knock down 3-pointers at times. While Cousins should continue to focus on dominating down low, being able to hit outside shots will force defenders to guard him out there, which should give the Kings more space to operate. As long as Cousins continues to produce, he will be an All-Star this season.
The Houston Rockets have been by far the most disappointing team so far this season. Effort seems like it has been a major issue for the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals last season. James Harden has not played anywhere near as well as he did last season where he almost won the MVP, but he is still putting up solid numbers across the board and will find a way to make it into the All-Star game. Harden is still one of the top 10 players in the league, and the best shooting guard on the offensive end. As bad as his defense is at times, he certainly makes up for it on the other end of the ball. All-Star weekend is the time for guys like Harden to shine, he hasn’t won an All-Star MVP yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him catch fire and notch his first All-Star MVP this year.
The Clippers got off to a rocky start this year, but Chris Paul has played a major role in putting them on the right path. Now, the Clippers are 16-10 and sitting at 4th place in the Western Conference. For quite some time, Paul was considered to be the best point guard in the league, and it wasn’t debatable. However, Stephen Curry has officially dethroned CP3 as the best point guard in the association. To be honest, Curry is just on a different level than CP3 and really the rest of the league. But make no mistake, Paul is still an elite point guard and one of the best distributers in the game. The All-Star game is filled with tons of alley-oops each year, and while Chris Paul has probably never been on the receiving end of one of those, he is often the one lobbing it up. Just like in years past, expect CP3 to throw a handful of dimes in the All-Star game this year.
Kawhi Leonard is an NBA Champion and an NBA Finals MVP, but he has never been selected to be a member of the All-Star team. This year, that will change. Kawhi Leonard has been absolutely incredible this season, and there are few players more deserving of an All-Star spot than Leonard himself. Believe it or not, Leonard has actually turned himself into one of the best players in the league, and it is time he gets to showcase that talent in the All-Star game. Tim Duncan will probably get snubbed from the All-Star game this season, so the younger Kawhi will have to represent San Antonio this season.
Due to LaMarcus Aldridge’s departure, the spotlight is no longer on the Portland Trailblazers, and they are likely no longer a playoff team. The Blazers find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding phase now, but they actually have a really solid core to build upon. While CJ McCollum has really stepped up this season, the focal point of the Blazers young core is Damian Lillard. You may not get to watch him on a nightly basis, but Damian Lillard is an absolute stud. This is only Lillard’s 4th year in the NBA and he looks like he is a legitimate franchise player. In his first three seasons, Lillard made the All-Star game both years after his rookie campaign. Dame will likely continue that streak and receive his 3rd consecutive All-Star selection this season.
Anthony Davis got PAID this summer. He signed a $145 million deal, the largest contract number in NBA history. Davis certainly earned every penny of that deal, as he is expected to be the next great player in this league. New Orleans has gotten off to a rough start this season, but much of that is due to health reasons. Davis has had very little support around him thus far, and without a consistent rotation, it is hard to get wins. Regardless of all the losses, Davis has continued to produce. For the next decade, Davis will likely be a regular in the All-Star game, and you can be sure that he will be there in Toronto this season.