NBA

Looking at Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and other potential first-time All-Star candidates

Whether or not there will be an All-Star Weekend in 2021 is to be determined, but that doesn't change the voting process for who makes the All-Star team.

With All-Star voting set to kick off on Thursday, Jan. 28 at noon ET, fans will have the opportunity to decide which players will be named to the starting lineup.

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Which players have made a strong enough to become first-time All-Stars this season? Take a look at some names that deserve some consideration below.

Julius Randle

Through 19 games: 22.5 PTS, 11.3 REB, 6.0 AST, 46.8 FG%, 35.6 3FG%

In his seventh season in the league, the 26-year-old Randle has taken his game up a few notches.

As the New York Knicks work to become a playoff team for the first time since 2013, it is Randle that's leading the charge with averages of 22.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists - all career-best marks - through 19 games.

Evidenced by his assist figures, Randle is thriving in an expanded role as a playmaker, often initiating the Knicks offence. He recorded his first triple-double of the season in New York's fourth game and fell a few assists shy in the sixth and seventh games of the season, which were wins over the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.

The key to Randle's All-Star candidacy is New York remaining in the playoff position as the season continues. Should the Knicks remain around .500 as the season reaches the midway point, Randle will be very worthy of an All-Star nod.

Jaylen Brown

Through 17 games: 27.1 PTS, 5.6 REB, 3.5 AST, 52.2 FG%, 44.1 3FG%

It seems as though every year Brown is in the league, he makes big strides in his game.

This year has been no different.

Through Boston's first 17 games, Brown is averaging a ridiculously-efficient 27.1 points on 52.2% shooting from the field and 44.1% from deep. He's appeared increasingly confident on the offensive end and continues to bring it on the defensive end, averaging 1.5 steals and 5.6 rebounds per contest.

Brown has already had two epic showings this season, recording a career-high 42 points on 15-for-21 (71.4%) shooting in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies and 31 points on 13-for-16 (81.3%) shooting in a win over the Detroit Pistons.

Last season, Brown earned plenty of All-Star consideration before Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker were selected to represent the Celtics at All-Star Weekend. This year, as Brown has stepped up in Walker's absence, things are lining up for him and Tatum to be Boston's All-Star duo.

Jamal Murray

Through 17 games: 19.0 PTS, 4.2 AST, 3.9 REB, 44.6 FG%, 34.6 3FG%

At 23, Murray is yet another example of how hard it is to make the All-Star Game as a guard in the West.

Murray has been in the All-Star conversation for the last few seasons but it wasn't until his amazing showcase at the NBA Restart that Murray entered a season with expectations to perform at an All-Star level. After a rough start to the season for Murray and the Nuggets, things are turning around rather quickly, as expected.

With Denver shaking off the early-season rust, Murray's name could regain some steam on the All-Star front, although he'll have to raise his level of play over the next few weeks of All-Star voting if he's going to join teammate Nikola Jokic as the Nuggets' second bid.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Through 17 games: 21.8 PPG, 6.5 AST, 5.5 REB, 50.4 FG%, 37.8 3FG%

Gilgeous-Alexander has taken the reigns in Oklahoma City this season and he's shaping out to be their franchise player of the future.

Averaging 21.8 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game on efficient shooting splits of 50.4% from the field and 37.8% from 3, Gilgeous-Alexander is stating his case for a spot on the All-Star team for the second year in a row.

Last season, it was his veteran Chris Paul that received the All-Star nod on the Thunder and while the team's 8-9 record doesn't guarantee them an All-Star this season, all signs point to SGA if they can stay in the playoff picture during the duration of the voting window.

As just mentioned with Murray, cracking the All-Star team as a guard in the West is a tough task, but if this isn't the year for Gilgeous-Alexander, it's surely coming soon.

Collin Sexton

Through 13 games: 25.2 PTS, 4.2 AST, 2.7 REB, 51.7 FG%, 47.2 3FG%

In the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise, only one player has scored 20 or more points in eight consecutive games to open a season.

As you probably could have deduced, it's Sexton that has surpassed a 16-year record held by LeBron James.

In just his third NBA season, the 22-year-old is showing exactly why Cleveland was excited to nab him with the No. 8 overall pick in 2018, while also serving as a reminder of why rookies shouldn't be written off in the first month of their careers.

Sexton has led the way for a Cavs team that has looked like a legitimate playoff contender at times, averaging 25.2 points on extremely efficient shooting splits through his first 13 contests. No moment encompasses his growth more than scoring 20-straight points over two overtimes to beat the Brooklyn Nets Big 3 in their season debut.

With Cleveland in the playoff hunt, Sexton deserves consideration for his first All-Star bid.

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Also worthy of consideration

Malcolm Brogdon: Has led Indiana to a 11-7 record through 18 games while averaging a career-best 22.8 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 45.9% from the field, 41.3% from deep and 90.5% from the charity stripe.

Zach LaVine: Average of 27.0 points through 17 games is good for eighth in the league and has already put forth a 45-point performance by sinking 10 triples against a solid LA Clippers defence.

C.J. McCollum: If not for a foot injury that has McCollum sidelined for at least a month, the Blazers guard was well on his way to his first-ever All-Star bid. Averaging career-highs of 26.7 points and 5.0 assists per game while shooting a career-best 44.1% from 3, McCollum was stating his case to take a backcourt spot in the West.

Fred VanVleet: Toronto might be 7-11 through 18 games but VanVleet is playing great basketball, averaging 18.9 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 36 minutes per contest. If the Raptors can keep momentum trending in the right direction after a slow start, VanVleet deserves a look.

Zion Williamson: Had he played in enough games, Williamson very well could have been an All-Star in his rookie campaign. Through 15 games, the 20-year-old is putting All-Star calibre numbers with averages of 23.9 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 59.0% from the field.

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