Every season there is a crop of young, borderline next-level stars waiting for the chance to jump into the ranks of the NBA elite. Some do it quicker than others while some fail to make the leap altogether. But with so many injuries to top-flight stars around the league, the opportunity for rising stars to establish their NBA credentials has never been more available for the taking.
What better way to brand a newcomer to the NBA's upper echelon than a berth in the All-Star Game? Many potential first-time All-Stars often fall victim to a lack of exposure or a numbers game that simply doesn't work out in their favor. (It's even worse for those on sub-.500 teams.)
Here are eight fast-rising stars with the best shot at making it to Houston for the midseason classic.
Why he'll make it: One of the league's best-kept secrets, last season the 22-year-old had better numbers than All-Star Roy Hibbert in every category except rebounds (0.9 fewer) and blocks. Similar to Pau Gasol, Monroe can create scoring opportunities with the pass from both the high and low post, and pop the jumper from 20 feet. Plus, he will use his snub by USA Basketball as motivation this season.