Last time, we looked at some the best players players never to make an All-Star game. At the request of friend of the site and overall nice guy Aitan Spring, we are going to take a look at each team’s best player never to make an All-Star game. A few guidelines for our review:
-We choose players based upon their accomplishment solely with one franchise. For example, Rod Strickland is possibly the best non-All-Star ever but he had several cameos for franchises where he wasn’t great, which don’t count in my book.
-If the player made an All-Star ever even if with another team, he is exempted from this list. This may seem a bit inconsistent with the first guideline but the fact that a player ever made the All-Star game changes things to me. A future (or past) All-Star appearance takes the sting off–that same sting which we’re trying to capture here.
-If the choices are close, we will weight our pick more towards players with longer tenures with the franchise. This seems more appropriate for what we are looking for.
Atlanta Hawks: The best Hawk we can find is Josh Smith, who has been very good for over five years. With the Hawks recent success, Smith is very likely to finally make the game. This leaves Jason Terry, who played well but toiled for some really bad Hawks teams at the real nadir of their rebuilding stage. Terry still has a chance to make an All-Star team but it is unlikely given the number of great guards out West.
Boston Celtics: Most of the great Celtics (or even the good Celtics) make the All-Star team. That’s just how it works with players on good teams. For Boston, that leaves two contenders, Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey and Cedric Maxwell. Ramsey, the original sixth man, for the Celts in the 1950s and early 1960s was instant offense off the bench in the old days and shot very well for the old brick laying days (he shot .419% in 1957-58, yet was fourth in effective field goal percentage in the NBA). Maxwell was remembered as a good role player for the 1980s Celtics but he was a well above-average player before the even better Kevin McHale co-opted his position. Maxwell’s best season was his second year (1978-79), when he put up 19 ppg and 9.9 rpg and led the NBA in field goal percentage. It’s hard to choose between Ramsey and Maxwell but we’ll go with Maxwell, since he was really a top player for about two years and still didn’t sniff the All-Star game.
Charlotte Bobcats: No All-Stars for this franchise quite yet and the only candidates are Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace. Okafor seems like the choice here because he was the better player (up until this year) and Wallace has a nice shot of making it this year anyway.
Chicago Bulls: Not much in the way of choice here. Derrick Rose is the best candidate but he is likely to make the game at some point. For the less likely to ever be All-Star players, Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich were/are both pretty good but not great. From olden days, Orlando Woolridge was a very proficient scorer for the Bulls in the mid-1980s, though he fit very poorly with MJ. None of these three have even been close to All-Star caliber as Bulls but I’ll go with Hinrich, who can’t score like either of the other two but had a nice year offensively in 2006-07 and defended realy well, something neither Gordon or Woolridge can/did do.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A couple of guys from the late 1980s have a shot here. Ron Harper was very good but was only a Cav for three years and I’ve always liked his old teammate Hot Rod Williams and thought he was an underrated player. In looking over the Cavs’ historical roster here, I was reminded that Andre Miller started out in Cleveland and has still never made an All-Star team. Miller was a great player (better than Harper) for the Cavs and has been a very good player ever since. His lack of an All-Star game appearance puts him squarely in the conversation with the legendary non-All-Stars like Derek Harper, Byron Scott, and Rod Strickland.
Dallas Mavericks: We went over this before…Derek Harper is the clear choice.
Denver Nuggets: Andre Miller is also a candidate here. His competition is Marcus Camby and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Miller wasn’t quite as good in Denver as he was in Cleveland but he was better than Abdul-Rauf. I would still take Camby, who was as productive as Miller but over a longer stretch of time and really did deserve an All-Star berth and some point the last few years.
Detroit Pistons: An argument can be made for very helpful subsidiary players on the title teams like Tayshaun Prince and Vinnie Johnson but neither player ever seemed like All-Stars. On the other end of the spectrum, John Long had a few gaudy stat years where he scored over 19 ppg for the Pistons but didn’t do much else statistically. Long is closer to what one would traditionally consider an All-Star but I think Prince was clearly a more valuable player and the one with more of an All-Star game claim.
Golden State Warriors: Take your choice between some good shooting guards. I was always partial to Purvis Short, a jump shooter who was deadly from the corner in the 1980s and put up 28 ppg in 1984-85. Jason Richardson was more of an all-around player than Short but didn’t last in Golden State nearly as long. Despite some nice numbers from those guys, Sleepy Floyd is the best of the bunch with his scoring point guard routine. Floyd was dominant for about two years and had better stats than either of them (putting up PERs over 20 for two straight seasons before being traded to Houston for Ralph Sampson).
Houston Rockets: Once again, we run into a bunch of decent but not great guards. In the 1970s, Mike Newlin scored and was a fair player. Ditto for Cuttino Mobley in the 2000s. Neither choice is particularly satisfying but Newlin played a good deal more in Houston, which gives him the slight edge.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have another of the memorable non-All-Stars in Chuck Person, who looked like a budding star in the late 1980s. In retrospect, his numbers were quite as impressive but it is still surprising he never made an All-Star team given his loud persona and his superifically solid scoring numbers.
Los Angeles Lakers: Like the Celtics, Lakers make All-Star teams copiously. Of the current group, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum haven’t made the game but it looks like Bynum will be an All-Star pretty soon. There one semi-major exception to this rule for the Lakers is Byron Scott. Scott had a claim in the 1986-87 and 1987-88, as he peaked when the Lakers were at the height of their dynasty. His not making it was not an injustice but it was surprising to me. Odom had a decent argument too but his raw numbers were better before the Lakers made their current title runs.
Los Angeles Clippers: Conventional wisdom is that Ron Harper is the clear Clipper choice. Harper scored a ton but was not a particularly efficient player in Los Angeles except for the 30 games he played before blowing out his knee in 1989-90. From 1990-91 to 1993-94, Harper scored but otherwise was unimpressive (best PER in that period was 16.1). His teammate of that time, Loy Vaught has at least as good a case for being the Clipper non-All-Star. The choice to me, however, is Corey Maggette. He was much maligned in Los Angeles but Maggette could (and still can) score like a machine. For the past six years, Maggette was free throw machine and neither Harper nor Vaught were quite as good.
Memphis Grizzlies: Yikes. There really aren’t any All-Stars we missed here. Zach Randolph has barely been in town (and likely will make the team this year) so the only choice is Rudy Gay, who is in the midst of his third 18-20 ppg season.
Miami Heat: In Miami, the choice comes down to original Heat Rony Seikaly and Brian Grant. Seikaly scored 16+ ppg and 10+ rpg for five years but was held back by his turnovers and weak defense. Grant only lasted three years in Miami and couldn’t score most of that time but was a great rebounder and defender. Neither ever deserved an All-Star birth but Grant’s defensive abilities pushes him ahead.
Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Bogut is climbing the ladder but the Bucks had two very effective veterans who are the top candidates for right now. Junior Bridgeman was a nice small forward/shooting guard for the Bucks who was All-Star level at his peak in 1978-79. At or around the same time, Paul Pressey was effective for the Bucks as the original point-forward. We’ll go with Pressey because his range of his skills was so diverse, while Bridgeman was more of a scorer.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves lack candidates. The past candidates are quite tepid decent players who starred for the original crappy expansion seasons, like Tony Campbell, J.R. Rider, Pooh Richardson, and Doug West. We usually like to take players who have been in town a while but Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are both so much better than that group ever was that we’ll pick the newbies in Minnesota, with the vet Jefferson edging out Love for now.
New Jersey Nets: Drazen Petrovic might’ve taken this title had he been a Net a little longer but Richard Jefferson was cusping All-Star for a few years in the mid-2000s and easily could’ve made it in 2003-04 and 2005-06. The ship has probably sailed on RJ as an All-Star but he looked very good during the Nets’ run as a good team.
New Orleans Hornets: Most of the good Hornets made an All-Star team at one time or another. The sleeper here was Elden Campbell, who had a nice run with the Hornets at center as he approached his mid-30s. In 2001-02, Campbell he had 18 ppg, 9 rpg and 19.5 PER and just missed the team. Campbell’s timing was a little off because his replacement at center in 2003-04, Jamaal Magloire made the All-Star team in the thin East with much less impressive numbers than Elden put up.
New York Knicks: Ray Williams was a good scorer for the Knicks in the early 1980 but Marcus Camby was a dynamic player for the Knicks and was more valuable to the Van Gundy Knicks than more ballyhooed Allan Houston or Latrell Sprewell. Camby was never healthy but played liked an absolute All-Star in 1999-00 and 2000-01.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Clearly, Kevin Durant is the pick here. Durant’s non-All-Star status should last about another 12 hours. From the Seattle days, there is no great choice. If forced to choose, Sam Perkins is the default choice.
Orlando Magic: Nick Anderson is the franchise leader in games and points (until Dwight Howard laps him) and has a good case for an All-Star berth but the best non-All-Star is the underrated Darrell Armstrong. Armstrong put up a dominant season in 1998-99, when the Magic surprised the NBA with a tough team and continued to play like an All-Star for three more seasons (credit Chuck Daly for realizing that his best player wasn’t Penny Hardaway but previous fringe NBAers Armstrong).
Philadelphia 76ers: Philly’s choice is Andre Iguodala, whose career mirrors Richard Jefferson’s on so many levels. Good but not great athletic forwards from Arizona, who were a bit overpaid. Unlike RJ, Iguodala does have a shot of making the All-Stars if he steps up his play in the next two or three years. If Iguodala ever does make an All-Star team, the next best Sixer is the immortal Clarence Weatherspoon, a good undersized forward who was Philly’s replacement for Charles Barkley back in 1992.
Phoenix Suns: Pretty much every good player in Phoenix history has made an All-Star game. The choice comes down to the sixth man of the 1980s, Eddie Johnosn, and the sixth man of the 2000s, Leandro Barbosa. EJ had a long storied career and it’s surprising he never made an All-Star team with the Kings. On Phoenix, he was about as good as Barbosa for slightly shorter amount of time. Barbosa may eventually eclipse in this category as a Sun but we go with EJ based upon his long career (1,199 games and 17 seasons) without an All-Star game.
Portland Trailblazers: Portland has a bunch of players with an argument for an All-Star birth. Zach Randolph was great in 2006-07 (and a dog in some other seasons) and Jerome Kersey was a very good player for several years, though he wasn’t really a clear cut All-Star ever. Both Rod Strickland and Arvydas Sabonis, however, should’ve made multiple All-Star games. How to choose between the two? Well, Strick was so good for so long his exclusion really makes no sense, except of course for his off-the-court issues we touched upon last time. Sabonis never played big minutes, so his failure to make the team is less surprising.
Sacramento Kings: We mentioned Eddie Johnson previously and he is almost dead even with Mike Bibby for best non-All-Star King. EJ played 483 games as a King and was a scoring machine (22 ppg in 1983-84 and 1984-85). Bibby played 476 games as a King and didn’t score quite as much but was the intiator of a great Kings team in the early 2000s. Based upon his ability to score and pass, Bibby is the choice in a very close race.
San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are another team with no real viable candidate. One would think that Sean Elliott, another solid Arizona small forward, would take the honors but I was surprised to see that he made the All-Star game twice. The choice comes done to one of three decent guards. Jame Silas was the point for the Spurs in the late 1970s and was pretty good. He also does get a bit of an asterisk because he did make two ABA All-Star games. Johnny Moore, his replacement, was fairly effective too (13 ppg, 10 apg, and 2.5 spg in the mid-1980s). Avery Johnson, the Spurs point for most of the 1990s, was solid but wasn’t quite as good as Moore or Silas. We’ll take Moore because of his defense and the fact that Silas did kind of make an All-Star team anyway.
Toronto Raptors: It feels like 100 years ago, but Damon Stoudamire was the talk of the rookie class of 1995 and seemed destined to be a future All-Star for the Raps in 1995-96 (19 ppg, 9.3 apg, 16.7 PER) and 1996-97 (20 ppg, 8.8 apg, 18.1 PEr). Looking at Stoudamire’s numbers through PER makes them seem much less impressive and more of a high volume shooeter in retrospect but he was a really hot commodity for the first few Toronto teams. Jose Calderon is a much more efficient player than Mighty Mouse was and is the better stats choice but from pure knee jerk reaction, Stoudamire’s failure to make an All-Star team in Toronto is still more surprising.
Utah Jazz: Before Stockton-Malone, Darrell Griffith scored 19.8 ppg or higher for the first five years of his career. His PER never topped 16.1 PER and occupies a similar sphere to Ron Harper or Cuttino Mobley, a good scorer without being a great player. Griffith’s numbers and his ability to dunk should still probably have gotten him one All-Star birth.
Washington Wizards: Not much in Wizard Land to talk about these days but they did have a few good now All-Stars: the aforementioned Rod Strickland, 1960s scorer Kevin Loughery, and Jeff Ruland, who was good for about two years at the start of his career before injuries derailed him. My inclination is to lean towards Loughery because he lasted so long with the Bullets but Strickland was so good, he deserves to be the choice.