- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
Every season, legions of players make it a goal to become an All-Star, but only a select few are chosen. The first five All-Star spots are reserved for the game's absolute best and most popular players, which leaves the rest of the players in each conference to battle it out for the remaining seven slots.
Here are eight players who have a shot at their first All-Star selection:
Projection: 21.1 pts, 8.6 reb, 2.1 ast per 40 min; 20.76 PER
Save for Blake Griffin, no power forward in the game is improving as rapidly as Aldridge. And when considering post moves and 18-foot jump shots, Aldridge is well ahead of Griffin. In fact, the only reason he didn't make the All-Star team last season was due to the glut of talented power forwards in the conference. (The league's leading rebounder, Kevin Love, was named last season as a replacement for Yao Ming.)
His turnaround jumper and jump hook are among the best in the game and his length causes a great deal of difficulty for contemporaries Griffin and Love. Winning the head-to-head battle against those two would greatly improve his chances.
Who he'd replace: Dirk Nowitzki
Why he wouldn't make it: For the same reason he was the odd man out last year: There are simply more quality power forwards out West than there are available All-Star roster spots.
Chris Palmer provides five candidates -- along with three long shots -- who could earn their first All-Star appearances this season. LaMarcus Aldridge and John Wall top the list.