Predicting the NBA’s 2021 All-Star Starters-Western Conference
Feb 25, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the basket while New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) defends during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The all-star weekend may have come and gone, but it is never too early to look at the all-star starters for next year. Many factors go into choosing the starters for the game, as it is a combination of fan votes, media votes, and the players themselves voting on who they think should lead the teams. As such, many different things need to be taken into consideration, and while no one can know for certain the stats a player will have next season, there is always a way to make a guess and predict which players will be chosen to participate in the game.
LeBron James, G/F, LA Lakers
Predicting LeBron James to be one of the captains is always a fair bet. James plays in the big market city of Los Angeles, and as such, will get a large portion of the fan votes; and in a league where fan votes account for 50% of the total votes, their support is important. However, a player isn’t selected for the all-star game just by fan voting alone. 25% of their score is based on player voting, and another 25% is based on media voting. Fortunately for James, he has those areas covered as well. He is one of the most recognizable names in the game, and as such, he has a lot of respect from the media, and his career averages of 27.1 points per game, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists back up his fame as well. Additionally, his charitable exploits, which includes his “I Promise” school based in Akron, Ohio, as well as his views on social activism make him one of the most powerful players, and as a result, one of the most popular players which will get him many votes on that side of the voting. All of these things make him a safe bet to be selected as one of the all-star captains in 2021.
The Rest of the Starters
James Harden, G, Rockets
Another perennial all-star, Harden currently leads the league in points per game with 35.2, and with 2 scoring titles already under his belt, there is no reason to believe that his scoring will dramatically decrease next year. Harden has made the all-star game every year since the 2012-13 season, and there is no reason to suspect he won’t get the job done in 2021. Harden is also one of the most well-known players in the league, with his famed beard and signature fadeaway shot sure to garner some fan votes.
Luka Doncic, G, Mavericks
Another product of the 2018 draft, Luka Doncic is also coming into his own. The second-year guard is having a career year, averaging 29 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. Additionally, since coming into the league last year, Doncic has been a triple-double machine, having 20 career triple-doubles. Additionally, Doncic has 13 this year, which is first in the league. The Slovenian guard is still in the prime of his career, and it seems unlikely that his numbers will dramatically decrease. Expect him to be in the starting lineups of the all-star team come 2021.
Ja Morant, G, Grizzlies
The Western conference has many great players under the age of 25. Case in point; Ja Morant. The rookie is averaging 17.5 points per game, which is second among all rookies, only behind Zion Williamson. Morant has also gained a reputation as quite the dunker, even though he stands at only 6-foot-3. The Grizzlies, as a team, have a lot of upsides, as they are currently 28-30 and are the 8th seed in the West. Memphis has a young core of players, including SF Brandon Clarke, and PF Jaren Jackson Jr. Expect Morant to add an all-star appearance to his list of accomplishments in 2021 as he continues his rise to NBA stardom.
Anthony Davis, C, Lakers
Anthony Davis may not be as young as some of the other players on this list, but he still has a ton of upside and should be a shoo-in as an all-star, and has a good chance to be a starter as well. Davis is not only one of the best centers in the league, but statistically, he is one of the best players overall. His 9.5 RPG ranks 18th in the league, and his PPG of 26.7 ranks 9th overall. Additionally, Davis plays in Los Angeles alongside LeBron James, and should have no trouble garnering fan votes in Hollywood. Davis has also never played any less than 60 games in any season, except for last year, when he played in 56. Davis has been remarkably consistent, making seven consecutive all-star games prior, and expect him to add an eighth next year.
Zion Williamson, F, Pelicans
To anyone who has even heard of the NBA in the last nine months, Zion Williamson is surely a name that has been heard. The power forward has a tank for a body, standing at 6’6″ and weighing a whopping 285 lbs, which is tied for third-best in the NBA, and is 30 lbs heavier than the next heaviest player at his height. While this has caused some problems in the past, including the famous torn meniscus injury he suffered in college, Williamson is still an extreme athlete, and he isn’t an inefficient player, either. Williamson is averaging 23.5 PPG, which is tops among rookies and would be 16th overall, but Williamson has not played enough games for this stat to be official. While New Orleans is a small market team, Williamson should still get a lot of fan votes from his college of Duke, a perennial powerhouse with a lot of fans. All of these things should line up for a first all-star appearance in Williamson’s sophomore season.