Who will make All-Star team in a stacked Western Conference?

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 11: Damian Lillard
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 11: Damian Lillard /

Whereas in the East there may not be enough players worthy of NBA All-Star consideration, in the West there’s bound to be an odd man out or three.

There was a mass exodus of star power across the Mississippi this summer, and it has left an imbalance in the NBA’s conferences. Twelve players will populate each All-Star roster this February, but looking at it now, it’s difficult to wean the West’s list down to so few players. Injuries and role will play a part in who deserves the honor most, but overall there are bound to be some players for whom a stacked conference results in disappointment come voting time.

There is one final thing to remember before we start narrowing down the list: the league has changed its All-Star rules so that the top two vote-getters are elected as captains for a playground-style draft for the game itself. This won’t impact who actually gets put into the pool of players eligible to be drafted by the captains, but it will add some intrigue to what has become a slightly stale contest.


Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: Kevin Durant is the best player on the planet. He is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and, if health permits, might very well add a second regular-season MVP award to his mantle this season.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: The only player who can stack up to Durant’s tremendous collection of accolades is Curry, a two-time MVP and four-time All-Star. With injury concerns mostly in the rearview after a scare in the 2016 playoffs, Curry is looking for a return to MVP form this year.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: Armed with two potential Hall of Fame teammates that he desperately needed last season, Westbrook enters 2017-18 with enough firepower around him to challenge for a second consecutive NBA MVP award. He’s missed out on the All-Star game just once since 2011.

James Harden, Houston Rockets: Harden is one of the very best offensive players on the planet, and impacts things on that side of the ball as much as anyone this side of LeBron James. Expect growing pains as he attempts to acclimate Chris Paul into the Rockets’ system, but nothing concerning enough to take one of the most popular players in the NBA out of the All-Star elite.


Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans: The only thing keeping Davis away from being a lock is that the Pelicans have a real chance to struggle this season, especially early on due to injury and unfamiliarity. Last season, the Pelicans won only 34 games and Davis walked away as this game’s MVP, so it’s not like it will take much for Davis to get in.

Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: Leonard should be starting this game without a doubt, but a questionable quad injury that has kept him out of games for almost a month now lingers with the potential to nag all season.

Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves: For the last three years, Butler has made the All-Star and All-Defensive teams, finally adding an All-NBA trophy last season. He’s good for 20-5-5 per game, and his knowledge and defensive awareness will shine on a Wolves team with high expectations.

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors: At least one of these two top-25 players is getting in. Health and efficiency will be the only things separating them.

That’s seven guys with better-than-likely odds to make the team. There’s about 20 possibilities for the remaining five spots. The West isn’t fair.


Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: It’s just a matter of time before Towns starts to dominate this league. Mostly that timeline revolves around how quickly he’s able to contribute on the defensive end as the anchor of Tom Thibodeau’s scheme. However questions have already bubbled up around the league about why the Wolves haven’t caught on under Thibs. This is bigger than just the All-Star game, but Towns being selected would be symbolic of a big improvement overall by Minnesota.

Chris Paul, Houston Rockets: Last year, Paul finished fifth in fan voting, sixth in player voting and and fourth in media voting according to voting data released online by the NBA. It’s difficult to project exactly how his season will go in such a new situation with the Rockets. He would likely have to do even better than last season to make it in this year, though maybe an exciting and competitive Houston team might help his odds.

Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder: He’s been a leader on a title contender before, but it’s been awhile. How good do the Thunder have to be to send two guys to Los Angeles?

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Portland Trailblazers: I’m actually bullish on the Blazers this year as a West playoff team, but logic tells us Lillard ’s candidacy can only be improved by team success, because he’s played about as well as possible the last two years and still hasn’t been able to make the team since Aldridge left town. The only chance I see for McCollum to overcome Dame’s high profile is if the Weber State alum were to miss time.

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs: What if Leonard misses extend time and LMA is able to post something like 25 and 12 with two blocks a night after making good with the Spurs and signing a new contract extension?

DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans: The double-big experiment in New Orleans could have massive ripple effects around the league, the least important of which might be this year’s All-Star game.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: He’s “the guy” now, after never being that before. Does that mean anything?

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Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: Are All-Star votes the currency of sympathy for a brilliant player still yet to make a single All-Star team? It would be incredible for him to break in this year, against this influx of talented players.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: Tempted as I was to put Eric Bledsoe in this spot, the narrative surrounding Booker around the league may have already usurped that of Bledsoe. Even so, Booker would have to approach 30 points per game and the Suns would have to get past 30 wins as a team for the third-year scorer to have a shot.