In the modern NBA, making a league-wide impact in your first season is becoming more of a rare occurrence.
While rookie starlets have made waves in the sport over the past few years (Tre Young and Luka Doncic the two most recent examples), only two first-year players have been named All-Stars since the turn of the millennium. Even LeBron James' meteoric rookie season in 2003 (20.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.9 APG) didn't earn him a ticket to the biggest weekend of the season.
But the 2019 NBA Draft class could signal the turning of the tide. While admittedly a top-heavy class, there are at least five players projected to go in the Top 10 picks that could provide an immediate spark for their teams.
Duke's R.J. Barrett plays a physical style perfect for the contact-heavy league, Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver may be one of the most impressive two-way prospects of the past five years, Murray State's Ja Morant has looked NBA-ready since October and Vanderbilt's Darius Garland is being called the next Damian Lillard.
Oh, right — then there's Duke's Zion Williamson, the most NBA-ready prospect since a kid from Akron was labeled "The Chosen One".
The 2019 NBA Draft class is brimming over with talent, but can any of these names make a big enough impact in their rookie season to earn All-Star honors? Only 45 players in history have accomplished the feat and the odds are more and more stacked against them.
Williamson is the obvious prediction, and he'll definitely be at NBA All-Star 2020 in some capacity (either Rising Stars or the Slam Dunk Contest), but he's still an unknown quantity on an NBA stage. One of his best chances will be with the fairly recent implementation of fan voting to help determine All-Stars.
Rookies Who Were Named NBA All-Stars
|Blake Griffin||Los Angeles Clippers|
|2003||Yao Ming||Houston Rockets|
|1998||Tim Duncan||San Antonio Spurs|
|1993||Shaquille O'Neal||Orlando Magic|
|1992||Dikembe Mutombo||Denver Nuggets|
|1990||David Robinson||San Antonio Spurs|
|1986||Patrick Ewing||New York Knicks|
|1985||Hakeem Olajuwon||Houston Rockets|
|1984||Ralph Sampson||Houston Rockets|
|1982||Buck Williams||New Jersey Nets|
|1980||Bill Cartwright||New York Knicks|
|1980||Magic Johnson||Los Angeles Lakers|
|1972||Sidney Wicks||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1971||John Johnson||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|1971||Geoff Petrie||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1970||Lew Alcindor||Milwaukee Bucks|
|1969||Elvin Hayes||Houston Rockets|
|1969||Wes Unseld||Washington Bullets|
|1966||Rick Barry||Golden State Warriors|
|1965||Willis Reed||New York Knicks|
|1965||Luke Jackson||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1964||Jerry Lucas||Cincinnati Royals|
|1963||Terry Dischinger||Chicago Zephyrs|
|1962||Walt Bellamy||Chicago Packers|
|1961||Oscar Robertson||Cincinnati Royals|
|1961||Jerry West||Minneapolis Lakers|
|1960||Wilt Chamberlain||Philadelphia Warriors|
|1959||Elgin Baylor||Minneapolis Lakers|
|1957||Tommy Heinsohn||Boston Celtics|
|1955||Bob Pettit||Milwaukee Hawks|
|1955||Frank Selvy||Milwaukee Hawks|
|1954||Ray Felix||Washington Bullets|
|1954||Jack Molinas||Fort Wayne Pistons|
|1954||Don Sunderlage||Milwaukee Hawks|
|1951||Paul Arizin||Philadelphia Warriors|
|1951||Bob Cousy||Boston Celtics|
|1951||Larry Foust||Fort Wayne Pistons|
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