NBA 2021: Which rookie player will make the All-Star team first?

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Jalen Green, Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley, pictured here in action in the NBA.

This year’s NBA rookie class has been better than advertised, and that is with No.1 pick Cade Cunningham shooting 20% from the field in his first two games. 

Instead of looking at who is leading the race for Rookie Of The Year, I thought it might be worth looking at which player of the 2021 rookie class will make the NBA All-Star team first.

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There are several things to factor in. It doesn’t always correlate that the best player or best prospect makes the All-Star game first. 

It doesn’t always track that the rookie playing the best now, or winning rookie of the year, will make the All-Star game first. 

I would be shocked if any rookie make the All-Star game this season. It just isn’t going to happen.

So, realistically, we need to look 2-3 years into the future to see which player could ascend to that level as well as predict where there will be an opening in each conference’s All-Star roster.

If we look at last year’s All-Star roster, I think the following players will likely be out of the conversation by 2023 - Mike Conley, Ben Simmons, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Nikola Vučević, and maybe Damian Lillard. 

That’s four guards and two centres, split at 3-3 between the East and West. 

Guys like Ja Morant, Bam Adebayo, LaMelo Ball, Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and maybe Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray or OG Anunoby, can push into this mix regularly.

The obvious place to start would be with the No.1 pick Cade Cunningham. 

Two games in, I am marginally worried about how different his shooting stroke looks. 

This could be foolish, but I’ll leave him from being the favourite at this point.

Scottie Barnes has been awesome to begin the season, but I’m not convinced that he ascends to an All-Star before any of his rookie brethren. 

Does he have that elite level to jump to that quickly? It’s certainly possible given what we’ve seen, but I feel like Toronto will need an NBA Finals trip to elevate Barnes.

Scottie Barnes, pictured here in action for the Toronto Raptors against the Indiana Pacers.
Scottie Barnes in action for the Toronto Raptors against the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Race between Evan Mobley and Jalen Green

To me, it comes down to Evan Mobley or Jalen Green.

Mobley, in my mind, has been the NBA’s best rookie so far. He is already sub-elite defensively.

Teams fear what he does, as he shuts down areas of the court, at the rim and on the perimeter.

He can pass and I do think he becomes a go-to offensive player, similar to Towns or Anthony Davis. Once a young big blows up, All-Star berths can come. 

And in the East behind Joel Embiid, it’s Adebayo, Vučević, and Sabonis to battle for big men slots.

It’s not crazy to think Mobley is better than Vučević and Sabonis by 2023, and maybe equivalent to Bam, and who knows how Embiid’s injuries will be by then.

The other side of the argument is Jalen Green. I am not arguing that Green has been anywhere close to Mobley so far. But, he has what All-Star voters love - explosiveness. 

He can take the Donovan Mitchell/Devin Booker type All-Star berth for a young guard who scores over 20 a game, dropping big dunks, splashing threes and showing us highlights every game that makes our jaws drop. 

The battle for Green for a spot with Luka Dončić, Steph Curry, Mitchell, Booker, and Morant makes it tough, but Lillard and Paul can easily drop out, opening up that chance.

If I put my money where my mouth is, I think it will be Mobley that gets named to the All-Star game first, but it won’t be until the 2023-24 season. 

Bookmark this and check back then.

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