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3 frontcourt players who could be first-time NBA All-Stars, including Paolo Banchero

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend is slowly approaching, making the fan voting more exciting than ever. Talent is abundant in the NBA right now, which makes deciding which players deserve a roster spot in the All-Star teams.

Guys like Jayson Tatum, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are locked in to be in the All-Star festivities on February 2023. With the number of talented individuals who have evolved into superstars, it’s hard to tell which players will make it.

Fan voting will be more difficult this time, including the choices for the reserves by all 30 coaches. I, for one, am having a difficult time which players I’ll be choosing once the fan voting opens.

In my recent piece, I enumerated three backcourt stars with immense potential to be named an All-Star for the first time in their careers. For frontcourt players, there hasn’t been a ton that stood out during this campaign. Still, we were able to identify three frontcourt players who deserve a roster spot at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

Related: Ranking NBA players in 2022-23

Jerami Grant’s two-way play deserves an NBA All-Star nod

nba all-star: jerami grant
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are in the eighth seed this season, thanks to the heroics of Jerami Grant. As the team’s third option, Grant has emerged as a reliable scorer at the small forward position. Many expected his numbers to go down this year, as he was the first option back with the Detroit Pistons.

The 6-foot-8 forward has played 23 games for the Blazers this season and has the team’s entire trust. Grant is averaging 23.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while making 47.5% of his field goal shots and 46.1% of his three-pointers. Don’t get it wrong, though. The defensive forward attempts over six threes a game while making 2.8 shots. He’s been an incredible player for the Blazers this year and is also a big reason for their success.

Grant’s reliability as the third option is unmatched. During the Blazers’ match against the New York Knicks, he erupted for 44 points to help the team win. His coaches and teammates expect big things from him, and he deserves a spot in the All-Star game.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NBA power rankings

Lauri Markkanen is turning things around

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Over the summer, many expected the Utah Jazz to tank in hopes of getting their hands on the number one prospect, Victor Wembanyama. However, because of the excellent play, Lauri Markkanen has displayed this season, it looks like they won’t need Wemby. Markkanen’s play has helped the Jazz take over the first seed in the Western Conference in the first few weeks. 

The Finnish sensation is a favorite to win the Most Improved Player award and should be a first-time NBA All-Star, which makes sense as he’s shown significant improvement this season. Markkanen is averaging 22.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while. He’s also shooting at an elite rate, making 52.8% of his field goals and knocking down 41.3% of his three-point attempts. His play for this campaign made him look like the Finnish version of Dirk Nowitzki.

The Jazz have fallen to the sixth seed after a recent five-game losing streak, But that hasn’t stopped the seven-foot forward from putting up big numbers. The 25-year-old forward has changed his narrative after struggling to find his stride in his first years in the NBA.

Related: NBA Playoff and championship predictions

Paolo Banchero making an impression en route to likely NBA All-Star Game

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Orlando Magic
Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic struck gold when they drafted the 6-foot-10 forward with their first pick during the 2022 NBA Draft. Many doubted Paolo Banchero’s production, but he quickly silenced the doubters with his fiery start. Banchero was red-hot, as he scored at least 20 points in his first six games. With this, he quickly became a fan-favorite, and Magic games became more entertaining.

There hasn’t been a rookie with this kind of reception from fans since Blake Griffin. Griffin averaged 22.5 points for the Los Angeles Clippers during his first season in the league, which earned him a spot in the All-Star game back in 2011. Banchero could have a similar fate this year and be named an NBA All-Star in his first campaign. The Magic rookie is averaging 21.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, which have been one of the bright spots of Orlando’s season. The former Duke Blue Devil hits on 46% of his shots from the field and 23.9% from beyond the arc.

After more than a decade, fans could see a rookie be a part of the NBA All-Star game next year. It’s possible that Banchero will be voted in by fans due to his fame and incredible talent. The future is bright for 20-year-old rookie if he makes the All-Star team this season.