There is much debate about the process of selecting NBA
All-Stars. While the game itself is just an exhibition that is more
of a showcase for the best athletes in the world, being selected to
an All-Star team does have both financial and real-life
The NBA All-Star game is far and away the best of its kind. The
NFL Pro Bowl — after basically being a two-hand touch game —
literally went to a flag-football format this year due to so many
star players sitting out to avoid injury. Major League Baseball
resorted to making the winner of its midsummer classic the home
team in the World Series just to add intrigue to the game. (And
honestly, I am not sure that the NHL All-Star Game is broadcast
live on American television...)
Outside of the all-time greats and sure-shot first-ballot
Hall-of-Fame players, so much of who actually makes the All-Star
Game ultimately comes down to luck and timing. With only 24 spots
available, players are often at the mercy of who else plays their
position in their respective conferences — while also needing to
stay healthy enough and play on a good team.
Clearly, it doesn’t always boil down to just being an All-Star
From 2002 to 2011, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki
were All-Stars every year. The point guard position in the Western
Conference was just as deep with Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Jason
Kidd performing during some of the same seasons. You simply cannot
state that someone deserves to be an All-Star player without
removing someone just as qualified. I didn't think in the fifth
paragraph of this column we would be quoting Sir Isaac Newton, but
here we are: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite
Since the inaugural NBA All-Star Game in 1951, there have been
several changes to the voting process. Let’s look at the history of
1974-75: Fans were first given the opportunity
to vote for NBA All-Star starters. The seven reserves for each team
were picked by each conference’s respective head coaches.
2012-13: With teams playing smaller than in the
past, the NBA modified its voting process before the season to
eliminate the “center” designation and replace it with three
“frontcourt” spots. Previous ballots allowed a voter to select two
guards, two forwards and a center.
2016-17: Current players and media joined the
fans in the voting process. Fans account for 50% of the vote to
determine the starters, while players and media account for 25%
each. Once votes are tallied, players are ranked in each conference
by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting
NBA All-Star Draft Era:
The NBA revamped the All-Star Game format in
2018. Now, instead of East vs. West, two captains pick the teams
from a pool of 24 players who were voted in by fans, media and
players. The captains are the All-Star starters who earn the most
fan votes in their respective conferences. Alternating picks, the
captains draft the eight remaining players from the starter pool in
the first round, and then, all 14 players from the reserve pool in
the second round, making selections without regard to a player’s
conference affiliation or position.
The NBA commissioner — currently Adam Silver —
selects the replacement for any player unable to participate in the
All-Star Game, choosing a player from the same conference as the
player who is being replaced. If a replaced player is a starter,
the head coach of that team would choose a new starter.
The NBA commissioner also has
the power to make special roster additions, as Silverdid in 2019to honor the legendary careers of Dirk Nowitzki
and Dwyane Wade.
In this article, we’re focusing on just the modern NBA, because
it makes no sense to compare eras when the criteria for being
selected has drastically changed and the number of participants has
as well. Here are the best NBA players to have never played in the
Drazen Petrovic: His tragic death is the only
reason he didn’t become an undeniable All-Star. He was a franchise
type of player.
Arvydas Sabonis: If he came to the NBA earlier,
there is no doubt he would have been a multiple-time All-Star
Marcus Camby: Legendary blocking,
shot-altering, double-double machine with height and hands.
2000-2003 stats (IND/CHI): 20.3 points, 4.7 assists, 4.6
rebounds in 39.2 minutes per game on .444/.367/.839 shooting
Long before he had the crispiest hairline in sports television,
Jalen Rose was a McDonald's All-American and collegiate
All-American, the leader of Michigan’s Fab Five and picked 13th
overall in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. However, it
wasn’t until Larry Bird became the head coach of the Indiana Pacers
that he officially found his footing in the league.
Originally, he was backing up Hall-of-Famer Chris Mullin, but it
wouldn’t be long before Rose supplanted him as a starter and became
the Pacers' second-best player.
Career stats (LAC/MIA/LAL/DAL): 13.3 points, 8.4 rebounds,
3.7 assists in 33.4 minutes per game on .463/.312/.693 shooting
Lamar Odom was a true point forward. A New York City prodigy, he
was tagged for stardom since his junior year of high school at
powerhouse Christ the King in his native Queens, NY. While his
ability screamed superstar, his demeanor told a different story.
Lamar always shined in situations where he had others around him of
He was such a talented all-around player that it was almost like
he felt guilty taking over the game. That is why he was such a
perfect fit alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol with the Los
Angeles Lakers; he could pick and choose his spots and mentally he
wasn’t required to be “on”' every night.
Lamar always left you wanting a little more — so gifted, but so
inconsistent. He was like a rapper that always sounded better on
someone else’s songs than he did on his own albums.
1991-1998 stats (SAS/POR/WAS): 16.5 points, 8.8 assists, 4.5
rebounds, 1.8 steals in 36.0 minutes per game on .465/.293/.722
Kyrie Irving’s godfather is your favorite point guard's favorite
point guard. With his high dribble and incredible change of pace,
Rod Strickland could get anywhere he wanted on the court. He was
the quintessential New York maestro.
One of the craftiest point guards of his era, “Rocket Rod” was
one of the best finishers regardless of size in the NBA.
In arguably his best season, Strickland produced 17.8 points,
5.3 rebounds, 10.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.3 blocks per game in
1997-98, leading the NBA in dimes dropped.
1987-1994 stats (CLE/LAC): 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9
assists, 2.1 steals in 36.6 minutes per game on .452/.283/.726
The versatile 2-guard from Miami of Ohio — who early in his
career often bore the responsibility of slowing down his legendary
future teammate and cigar buddy Michael Jordan — looked like he was
destined for multiple All-Star games early in his career.
Playing next to All-Star point guard Mark Price — one of the
originators of splitting the pick — in addition to Brad Daugherty
and Larry Nance Sr. patrolling the paint, those mid-to-late 1980s
Cleveland Cavaliers teams under Hall-of-Fame head coach Lenny
Wilkens were fun.
As a rookie in the 1986-87 campaign, Ron Harper started all 82
games, averaging 22.9 points and 4.8 rebounds to go with 4.8
assists and 2.5 steals per game. He placed second in Rookie of the
Year balloting behind “The Rifleman” Chuck Person in Indiana.
Harper was the most exciting player on that Cavs squad and
definitely the one who seemed to have the most long-term potential
before being dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers for Danny Ferry and
Reggie Williams. Due to injuries and a trade to the Clippers, whom
he initially refused to play for, he eventually ended up on the
Chicago Bulls for their second three-peat alongside MJ, his
1998-2009 stats (VAN/SAC/ATL): 16.4 points, 6.1 assists, 3.3
rebounds, 1.3 steals in 36.1 minutes per game on .439/.374/.805
Mike Bibby won an NCAA title as a freshman for his home-state
Arizona WIldcats and seemed destined for superstardom. After a slow
start for the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, Bibby found his NBA footing
playing for the Sacramento Kings with Hall-of-Famer Chris Webber,
Peja Stojaković and Vlade Divac.
In 2001-02, the Kings had the NBA’s best record at 61-21. From
2003 to 2007, Bibby helped Sacramento make multiple deep playoff
runs and averaged 19.0 points and 5.5 assists per contest.
Being the point guard and vocal leader for arguably the best
team in NBA history never to win a title, Bibby went head-to-head
with the best at his position in the West, but was never named to
an All-Star team.
2002-2009 stats (NJN): 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3
assists in 37.6 minutes per game on .470/.359/.787 shooting
This was the name that surprised me the most as I did the
research for this article. Watching the high-powered and highly
successful New Jersey Nets with Jason Kidd at the helm, it just
felt like Richard Jefferson was an All-Star-caliber guy.
A true two-way player, RJ excelled in the open court, and his
defensive versatility was an asset for a team that wanted to force
turnovers and play as fast as possible.
Always a high-flyer dating back to his days at the University of
Arizona, Jefferson definitely put up All-Star-worthy numbers in
2007-08, averaging a career-high 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1
assists per game.
Playing in Vince Carter’s shadow absolutely cost him at least
one All-Star game nod.
2015-2020 stats (TOR/LAL/HOU/LAC): 18.2 points, 3.9 assists,
2.6 rebounds in 27.7 minutes per game on .422/.354/.866 shooting
Long before his affinity for lemon pepper wings from a
particularly legendary Atlanta establishment was a national story,
“Lou Will” was as consistent of a scorer off the bench as the NBA
has ever seen.
With unshakable confidence, Williams combined off-balance
floaters with a pump fake that defenders always fell for no matter
how many times they told themselves, “No." He produced on every
team he played on. He was the guy that other guys in the NBA always
whispered about how nice he was.
Williams' best season came with the Clippers in 2017-18, where
he averaged 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 88%
from the charity stripe, earning him the Sixth Man of the Year
award for the second of three times in his career.
1994-2000 stats (CHI/PHI): 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2
assists, 1.2 steals in 29.4 minutes per game on .456/.324/.743
Typically, guys who play on championship teams get the benefit
of the doubt when it comes to awards and being named to events like
the All-Star game. Toni Kukoc played on the highest-profile team of
all time in the 72-10 Bulls, who toured NBA cities like The Beatles
Yet, still — despite being a Swiss Army knife, Lamar Odom before
Lamar Odom and an invaluable cog in the Bulls' second three-peat —
he was not rewarded with an All-Star game nod.
Being a 6-foot-10 ball-handler in Phil Jackson’s famed triangle
offense not only created the necessary spacing for MJ to dominate,
but it also freed up Chicago’s role players to reach their full
Kukoc was a triple threat at the extended elbow, and allowed
Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan to slash from the back side,
while teams would normally just sag off of Dennis Rodman and Luc
2000-2011 stats (CLE/LAC/DEN/PHI/POR): 14.4 points, 7.2
assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals in 34.4 minutes per game on
.459/.204/.807 shooting splits
Here is another guy whose only flaw was being born when he
Andre Miller, the consummate point guard, played like he was
from the era before he was born. Always the set-up man, he led the
NBA with 10.5 assists per game in 2001-02 while playing for the
29-win Cavaliers pre-LeBron James.
Miller is the only player in NBA history to have at least 16,000
career points, 8,000 assists and 1,500 steals without making an
The fact that he wasn’t the most spectacular player in the
league was probably held against him. Miller made Kawhi Leonard
look like Deion Sanders when it came to self-promotion, and for
that reason, I am not even sure he cares that he is on this
2001-2012 stats (ATL/DAL): 16.8 points, 4.7 assists, 2.7
rebounds, 1.3 steals in 34.4 minutes per game on .449/.383/.848
How about another Arizona alum who thrived after the team that
drafted him traded him? Never quite a true point guard, but at only
6-foot-2 even in a more open-court era, Terry was never going to be
a starting shooting guard. However, he was fearless, and a
shot-creator with range to the parking lot.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Terry is eighth on the
NBA’s all-time three-point list with 2,282 triples, ahead of
Speaking of that, Terry was arguably the second-best player on
the Dallas Mavericks championship team that upset James' favored
Miami Heat in 2011. In the Game 6 clincher in South Beach, Terry
came up huge and led the Mavs with 27 points, many of which were
clutch buckets to help seal the deal and solidify Dirk’s legendary
status in Dallas.
2007-2015 stats (BOS/MIN/UTAH/CHA): 19.0 points, 10.0
rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 blocks in 34.1 minutes per game on 49.8%
from the field (16.4 attempts)
Al Jefferson entered the NBA straight out of Prentiss High
School in Mississippi, where he had a decorated career that
culminated in First Team All-American honors and being the 15th
overall pick by the Boston Celtics in 2004.
Jefferson never made an All-Star team despite having seasons of
21-11-2, 23-11-2 and 22-11-2, although he did make an All-NBA Third
Team in 2013-14. He had a soft touch and a big posterior, and while
he almost never dunked, his shot was very rarely blocked.
Similar to Zach Randolph, Jefferson was certainly a guy at the
top of the scouting report and someone who garnered a double team.
Unfortunately for Big Al, he was part of some terrible Celtics
teams, and then was traded to Minnesota for the Wolves' favorite
son, Kevin Garnett. He improved every year, and in Charlotte, he
was a workhorse. His game would have been more appreciated in the
1980s than when he played.
2004-2014 stats (CHI/NYK/GSW/ATL/POR/LAC): 17.1 points, 3.8
assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals in 33.6 minutes per game on
.412/350/.858 shooting splits