Zion Williamson has been as good as advertised so far in the preseason. His play has imaginations running wild about how good the rookie phenom can be.
It even begs the question: Can Zion become an All-Star in his very first season?
We asked our NBA.com Staff to weigh in on the potential of Zion starring in the All-Star Game in Chicago.
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Process of elimination time!
There are 12 spots up for grabs, up to seven of which will go to frontcourt players. Of those seven, four are already accounted for in my eyes - LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard. That leaves three spots for the likes of Paul George (who would also be a lock if he wasn't going to miss the start of the season), Draymond Green, Karl-Anthony Towns, Luka Doncic, Rudy Gobert, Kristaps Porzingis and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Could Williamson get in ahead of five or six of those players? Potentially. He's looked like an All-Star in preseason and he'll likely be popular among fans, which accounts for 50 percent of the vote.
But will it actually happen? I'm not convinced, only because the Western Conference is so loaded with talent.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): There's a reason we don't often see rookies earn All-Star nods and while Zion isn't your average rookie, I still have to say no.
In the Western Conference, it will be increasingly hard for Williamson to get a selection over the players that Scott mentioned and while he's quickly becoming a fan favourite, we learned last year with Doncic that that's only half of the battle.
Williamson will certainly be an All-Star for years to come, I just don't think it will be in his rookie year. He's already earning the respect of more established veterans and opposing coaches, meaning it's only a matter of time before we see him play on that heralded Sunday. But until then, we should enjoy the show of him in the Rising Stars Challenge and, potentially, the Slam Dunk Contest.
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Imagine watching what Zion Williamson has done this preseason and NOT thinking he's going to make the All-Star team.
OF COURSE HE'S GOING TO MAKE THE ALL-STAR TEAM!
I'll admit, I've been swept up in Zion mania for a while. Guys that big simply aren't supposed to move that fast or jump that high. Some of that enthusiasm prior to actually stepping on an NBA floor was blind faith that the trail of destruction he left in his wake at Duke would translate immediately to the NBA.
Well, it's not blind faith anymore.
He's a 19-year-old and he looks like the most physically dominant player in the league right now. It's like watching Adam Sandler play dodgeball with a bunch of first graders in Billy Madison. Except these aren't small children, they're the most physically gifted athletes in the world. And it just doesn't matter.
The manner in which he's done it should hose down all of the naysayers countering with "yeah, but it's just preseason."
I don't care whether it's pick-up at the local gym or the NBA Finals, anyone that can routinely get to the rim whenever they want, no matter who is standing there and no matter how much help arrives while also possessing an inordinate amount of basketball IQ and above average playmaking ability ... I'm sorry, that's translating right away.
You have to go back to Wilt Chamberlain to find any rookie that's been this dominant in the preseason.
Historical ROY winners - 1st Preseason PPG- Todd Spehr (@toddspehr35) October 14, 2019
James 11.6 PPG/7 GP
Duncan 16.2 PPG/8 GP
Iverson 16.8 PPG/8 GP
O'Neal 17.8 PPG/8 GP
Ewing 11.4 PPG/7 GP
Jordan 22.7 PPG/7 GP
Bird 20.1 PPG/8 GP
KAJ 20.6 PPG/6 GP
Robertson 21.7 PPG/14 GP
Chamberlain 25.8 PPG/14 GP
Stokes 10.9 PPG/10 GP https://t.co/7rRC455DsG
You know what Wilt did? He made the All-Star team.
(He also won the MVP award, but let's save that for another day because I'm not sure how much more Zion day dreaming I can handle in one day.)
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm going to say no ... for this season.
Zion Williamson has been unfathomably great in preseason. He's shooting over 70% from the field averaging 23.3 points per game, and that's just in 27 minutes of playing time. Not that he'll shoot 70% from the field in the regular season - I don't think - but I believe he could average around 23 points per game once the regular season tips off.
He's 19-years old, hasn't played a real NBA game yet and he's already a superstar. He's going to be great. He's going to wow us on a night-to-night basis. He's going to make it really tough to be left off of the All-Star team, especially with how much love he's going to get from the fan vote.
But at the end of the day, I don't think he'll get the votes he needs from the media, players and coaches to make the All-Star team in his first season. We saw it with Luka Doncic last year and though this is a different case, I think it'll be the same result - just falling short.
Unless the Pelicans are a playoff team in the Western Conference heading into the All-Star Break, which would be extremely tough to do with how loaded the conference is, I don't think Zion will get the nod his rookie season.
He will make the All-Star team in Year 2 though. You can put that in sharpie for me now.
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): My gut tells me, no. But after seeing his first couple of preseason games - and the reaction to them - I wouldn't be shocked if he does make it.
If he does make it, it will likely be because of the fan vote. There hasn't been this amount of hype around a player coming into the league since LeBron James. It's also a very different world now with social media and the like. Zion may very well have a highlight reel type play that we all see in real-time every single night. That alone will endear him to fans, both locally and globally. There's no denying that he'll be a star if he already isn't one.
But, in my opinion, I don't think he'll get enough player and media votes to supplant the established stars in the West. The coaches won't vote for him either unless the Pelicans are right in the mix of making a playoff spot. (They won't be.)
So I'll stick with a no and say maybe next year.
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): No.
If the preseason is anything to go by, he could have an All-Star worthy first half of the season, but I don't think he'll make the cut. The biggest point of contention is how loaded the Western Conference is with talent, especially at the forward spot.
There's no argument about whether he's going to be a multiple-time All-Star when his career is done. But for his rookie season, I don't think he'll receive enough non-fan votes (players, coaches and media) to make the 12-man All-Star roster.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.