5 Young Ballers That Will Be Playing in the NBA All-Star Game Next Year

  • Nikola Vucevic

    2014-2015 stats: 19.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, .8 BPG

    You will see the Orlando Magic’s starting center in the All-Star Game next year. Fresh off of a four-year, $53 million contract extension, Nikola Vucevic is having a monster season. Averaging nearly 20 points per game and 11 rebounds, Vucevic could have easily been an All-Star this season. As of January 30, he is second in the league with 28 double-doubles, one behind league leader Pau Gasol. Vucevic is a durable player, having started every game he has played in over the last three seasons. The biggest flaw in his game is his defense. For a 7-footer, averaging less than 1.0 blocks per game is pretty pathetic.

    If the Swiss native continues to improve his offensive and defensive game, don’t be surprised when you see him on the list of East reserves in next year’s All-Star Game.

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  • Andrew Wiggins

    2014-2015 stats: 15.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.1 SPG

    The mid-season favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award, Andrew Wiggins has the potential to be an All-Star for many years in this league, especially playing for the less-than-stellar Timberwolves. It took the 19-year-old a minute to get adjusted to the level of play that the NBA holds, but since the New Year, he has been on a tear. In the month of January, he averaged 19.8 points per game while playing 38.4 minutes. The athletic swingman is quickly becoming the face of a franchise that hasn’t sniffed a playoff appearance since 2004.

    Wiggins reminds me of a young Carmelo Anthony. That’s a tough sentence to swallow considering I am a huge Knicks fan. ‘Melo can be an All-Star the rest of his life, but can he lead a team to a championship? I have a feeling I will be asking myself the same question about Andrew Wiggins in five years. The West is too deep right now for the Wolves to be a contender. That said, I can easily see Wiggins going for 20-25 per night in his sophomore season. If the T-Wolves can be a .500 team next season, Wiggins has a solid chance at the All-Star team. No matter what, though, Wiggins will play like one.

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  • Kawhi Leonard

    2014-2015 stats: 15.6 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.0 SPG

    The San Antonio Spurs starting small forward is the most underappreciated player in the NBA. His stat line isn’t eye-popping, his game isn’t flashy, yet he seems to have attributes you would want to see in every player. Coming off of a pretty impressive regular season, Kawhi broke out into a budding star during the playoffs. Not only did he have to guard a guy by the name of LeBron James in the NBA Finals, he also had to play his part on offense, averaging nearly 18 points per contest. The Spurs ended up winning the series easily, in large part because of Kawhi’s play. He became the third youngest player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP, beating out Hall of Famers Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili.

    Injuries to his eye and hand have kept Kawhi from unleashing his true potential this season. Baring injuries, Kawhi has the ability to become the face of an already established and successful franchise. The “Big Three” can’t win forever. It’s time for a revamp with the centerpiece being Kawhi Leonard. He needs to play at an All-Star level for this team to continue being competitive for the next 10 years. Kawhi wins the All-Star MVP in the Air Canada Centre next February — you heard it here first.

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  • Andre Drummond

    2014-2015 stats: 12.4 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, 1.8 BPG

    Want me to make you feel old? Andre Drummond was born on August 10, 1993. He is the 6-11 starting center for the Detroit Pistons, making $2.6 million this season. The one thing they say in basketball is that you can’t teach height. The UConn native still has a ton of potential in this league, whether you want to believe it or not.

    His scoring is down one point from last year, but so are his minutes per game. Even with his minutes being down, he is top 10 in double-doubles this year and second in the league in RPG game, trailing only the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan. Trading away Josh Smith would lead you to believe that the Pistons have faith that they can build around the young pieces on their current roster. I’m waiting for Drummond to completely break out and be an 18-point and 14-rebound kind of player. He has great low-post presence, rebounds the ball well, and has a knack for being a beast under the hoop, on both sides of the court.

    I can easily see Andre Drummond being an All-Star-caliber player for the next handful of seasons, especially playing in the East that is void of true centers.

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  • Victor Oladipo

    2014-2015 stats: 16.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG

    The more minutes this kid gets and the harder he works, the better player he will become. The scariest part about his game is his ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot. It also doesn’t hurt to have incredible leaping ability.

    His 2014-2015 season is exactly what you want to see in a player’s sophomore season: Growth. Victor Oladipo continues to grow his game. He is averaging more minutes, more points, and less turnovers, all important ingredients in developing a young star.

    Kehinde Babatunde Victor Oladipo (yes, that is his real name) is still only 22 years old and is still figuring out his role in this league. He reminds me a young Russell Westbrook, the score-first type of point guard that ultimately makes all of his teammates better. After winning the slam dunk contest, Oladipo’s goal should be to take the All-Star Game. Whether it is next season or in three seasons, you will eventually see the Magic’s point guard in the big game guarding Steph Curry.

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  • Nikola Vucevic dunk
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Kawhi Leonard dunk
  • Victor Oladipo dunk

Being selected to an NBA All-Star Game is an interesting accomplishment. In some ways it is a popularity contest. In other ways, and in most cases, it is a testament to the high level of play throughout one half of the basketball season for any particular player. This year, we have five first-time All-Star selections. These players include Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Klay Thompson, and Kobe Bryant’s replacement, DeMarcus Cousins. They’re all young, deserving players that have bright futures in the NBA.

Here at The Drop, we decided to shake our magic 8-ball and predict the next five players that will be first-time suitors for the 2016 All-Star Game being played next year in Toronto. The factors we looked for were growth, surrounding players, improvement, and raw ability. Four of the five players in the list are playing on teams that are currently below .500, while the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard are 12 games above .500. If and when these teams improve, the guys on this list will be the reason for it.

Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic are two young talents playing together in Orlando, while Andrew Wiggins and Andre Drummond are cornerstones to their respective franchises. Kawhi Leonard already has a Finals MVP on his resume so it only makes sense that next is an All-Star selection.

A lot has to go right for these guys to be selected to their first All-Star Game next season. But with the proper work ethic and correct mindset, it could happen. Scroll through as we state our reasons why these are 5 Young Ballers That Will Be Playing in the NBA All-Star Game Next Year.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @imfitterthanyou

image via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images