When the 2023 NBA All-Star Game commenced last Sunday in Utah, some new promising players rose to the occasion, with game MVP Jayson Tatum and his 55 points scored in the spotlight. While some of the current legends and familiar faces in the competition like Lebron James are nearing the age of 40, the question arises: who are the candidates to compete against Tatum in the future? Attention draws on the six players that debuted in this year’s All-Star Game, namely Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Jaren Jackson Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyrese Haliburton. What’s at stake for these players and how did their performance in Sunday’s game reflect their future outlooks? Will one of them become the next All-Star MVP, a title held by the basketball icons of the century, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, three and four times respectively?
Starting off with Markkanen, “The Finnisher,” who is the first ever Finnish player to make it to the All-Star Game. Not only that, but he was also the only of the six newbies to make it to the starting five. While enjoying this nomination, the Utah Jazz forward got to play for his home audience at his home court. He was far from disappointing expectations with his 13 points, five fabulous slams and a 3-pointer. His double-pump reverse slam in the second quarter especially left everyone in awe. His performances during the ongoing season have sparked many promises of becoming a great star, and his outstanding showing in the All-Star Game prove just that.
Gilgeous-Alexander, playing in his fifth NBA season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, made his first appearance amongst basketball greatness after his remarkable performances during the season, most notably his 44-point game against the Portland Trail Blazers in February. In the All-Star Game, his shooting hand was well-prepared with 80% field goal percentage, resulting in nine points. Gilgeous-Alexander has earned the nickname of the unofficial Driving King having the most drives per game. He is definitely off to a promising growth since his first seasons and could be the next superstar leading the Thunder to postseason success.
The third season star from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Edwards, or “Ant-Man,” did not hold back with his athleticism in the All-Star Game, putting on a show of two-handed slams. Selected as the No. 1 overall pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Edwards has continued to impress with various 40+ or more performances. Although selected to the game as an injury replacement, if he continues to perform as his All-Star show heralds, “Ant-Man” has the potential to put his name among icons.
Haliburton, currently playing for the Indiana Pacers, showed out in the All-Star Game in his third season in the league. Out of the six first-timers, Haliburton finished as the highest scorer with 18 points in just 13 minutes. The third-year star has made some remarkable performances throughout the season, including a game-winning 3-pointer against the Miami Heat in December. He also stepped up to the stage in the All-Star Weekend’s 3-Point Contest, leaving a positive impression for the years to come.
Fox is playing in his sixth season for the Sacramento Kings, headed by the famous coach Mike Brown, while the Kings might be heading to their first playoff performance after almost 20 seasons. A noticeable part of the promising success of the team has been Fox’s improvements in scoring and assists. Some near 40-point performances earned him a spot amongst the stars, although he was selected as an injury replacement. However, he had a quiet performance on Sunday with nine minutes of playing time. Perhaps his true potential is yet to be seen in the postseason, where finishing without field goals will not be sufficient.
Finally, Jackson Jr., a, power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, made a beautiful one-handed slam at the beginning of the second quarter of the All-Star Game. This season being his fifth in the NBA, Jackson Jr. has shown promising defensive efforts especially since the previous NBA season. Despite not being the highest scorer in the game, his defensive efforts will be crucial if the Grizzlies make it to the playoffs.
It seems that a strong four, Markkanen, Gilgeous-Alexander, Edwards and Haliburton, have the greatest outlooks as the future All-Stars, but to win the famous title of the MVP, now named after the legendary Kobe Bryant, phenomenal performances are required. Therefore, it remains to be seen if any of these players are up for the challenge and leave their name in the history books.