NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

Perhaps the biggest surprise in a rookie class that’s been full of them has been Los Angeles Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma.

All the hype going into the season belonged to his teammate Lonzo Ball, but it’s been Kuzma who has more often played the role of star for this young and rebuilding Lakers team. For a guy who has been more used to slower progress in his basketball life, the immediate burst onto the NBA scene has been jarring. 

Kuzma was a 5-foot-8 point guard his freshman year of high school before he shot up to 6-4 by his sophomore year. The adjustment from a shorter player to a taller one took some time. So did learning to play the post and growing into his once-lanky body. 

He wasn’t exactly ignored as a high-major recruit, but recruiting services pegged him as the 25th-best power forward in his class. In his freshman season (after a redshirt year), he averaged 8.1 minutes and 3.3 points per game. This was not exactly the stuff of a future NBA prospect. But by the time Kuzma was a redshirt junior at the University of Utah, the 6-9 forward was a force, averaging 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Still, 26 NBA teams passed on him before the Lakers picked Kuzma late in the first round at No. 27. He surprised people immediately in Summer League, and he’s been a consistent bright spot to this roller coaster Lakers season, averaging 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. 

Most impressive has been Kuzma’s shooting. After shooting just 30 percent from three-point range in college, he’s shooting 36.2 percent from three for the Lakers and 70 percent from the free-throw line. It hasn’t been any specific tweak to his shooting form that’s caused the change from deep. It’s been more between the ears.

“Honestly it’s just confidence,” Kuzma told CBSSports.com. “In college I wasn’t necessarily the most confident in shooting that three ball, but it’s about repetition and getting better and better. It’s about putting in the work. I always thought I would make the NBA. I’ve always been a very confident person. For me there was no other option. Since I was little kid, this has been my dream.”

The next dream for Kuzma, and for youngsters like him who are playing in the Rising Stars Challenge game on Friday night in Los Angeles? Play in the game that takes place two days later. You know: The All-Star Game, the spot where the best of the best in this league show off their skills.

Some questions when wondering which of these Rising Stars participants will someday be an All-Star: What’s their ceiling? And how have they progressed in their first couple years in the league to make you think that ceiling could be reached?

Most of these Rising Stars won’t ever play in an All-Star Game. That’s just the deal; It’s really, really hard to make an All-Star roster. But some of them certainly will. In fact, one player on this year’s Rising Stars roster, Joel Embiid, will also play in the All-Star Game.

Here’s an attempt to guess at the chance for each of the 2018 Rising Stars to make at least one All-Star Game during the next decade.

World Team

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Bogdan Bogdanovic

SAC •

SG •

8

PPG11.5APG3.2RPG2.7

The 25-year-old Serbian is having a nice rookie season for the Kings after staying in Europe for several years after he was drafted as the 27th overall pick. He’s a great shooter (40 percent from three) with a solid overall game, but does he even have any All-Star ceiling? The guess is no.

All-Star Chances: Two percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Dillon Brooks

MEM •

SF •

24

PPG9RPG3.1APG1.3

Memphis getting Brooks as a second-rounder (the 45th overall pick, obtained in a trade with Houston) feels like a steal. Getting a productive rotation player with a second-round pick is always a nice thing. Brooks’ 37.4 percent shooting from three is pretty similar to his 36.2 percent shooting during his three-year college career at Oregon. But does anyone realistically expect Brooks to rocket to All-Star level? It doesn’t happen often with second-round picks.

All-Star Chances: Two percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Joel Embiid

PHI •

C •

21

PPG23.7RPG11.1APG3.1

Embiid is a unicorn, one of the most exciting and naturally gifted players in the game. He’s already an All-Star in his first full season in the league. When healthy, he has a shot at becoming an MVP. But that first phrase with Embiid is always key: When healthy. If he is healthy, Embiid is going to be an eight-time (or more) All-Star over his career.

All-Star Chances: 100 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Buddy Hield

SAC •

SG •

24

PPG12.5APG1.5RPG3.4

JJ Redick is an excellent basketball player, one of the best shooters this league has ever seen. Has Redick ever made an All-Star Game? No. That’s the reason I believe Hield’s All-Star ceiling is somewhat low. I love his game, but he’s somewhat one-dimensional. I could easily see him averaging 18-to-20 points per game and shooting 40 percent from three for years at a time; he’s shooting 42.5 percent from three this season. But I’m not sure that equals an All-Star.

All-Star Chances: Eight percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Lauri Markkanen

CHI •

PF •

24

PPG15.3RPG7.7APG1.3

Markkanen has been a revelation for the Bulls this season despite the fact that plenty of people panned both the Jimmy Butler trade that netted this pick for the Bulls and the selection of Markkanen. (Proud to say I wasn’t one of those people.) He’s a seven-footer who hits threes (35.4 percent on 6.3 attempts a game) and gets rebounds. What isn’t there to like? His average athleticism limits his ceiling a bit, but having a rookie season that exceeds just about every expectation portends well for his All-Star future.

All-Star Chances: 30 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Jamal Murray

DEN •

PG •

27

PPG16.3APG2.9RPG3.5

There’s no more guessing: Now that Emmanuel Mudiay is gone, Murray is the Nuggets’ point guard of the future (although a point guard for a team that has Nikola Jokic has a slightly different job description). The question with Murray has never been his scoring ability. Despite a slow start this season, he’s shooting 6.1 threes a game and hitting them at 37.6 percent. The question is whether his game can be more than that. This season, he’s vastly improved his overall offensive game. He’s improving as a passer, and most impressively he’s scoring at a higher percentage all over the court, adding a mid-range game that’s improved from 36 percent last season to 45 percent this year. Don’t worry, his lackluster defense isn’t going to stop him from becoming an All-Star.

All-Star Chances: 40 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Frank Ntilikina

NY •

PG •

11

PPG: 5.2 APG: 3.2 RPG: 2.1

Ntilikina is like the anti-Jamal Murray: He’s more game manager and all-around team player than flashy scorer. For the Knicks, that’s a good thing; Ntilikina handles floor general duties admirably and is an absolute pest on defense. But great perimeter defense does not generally get you on All-Star rosters.

All-Star Chances: Eight percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Domantas Sabonis

IND •

C •

11

PPG12.1RPG8.2APG2.2

Sabonis has been almost as much of a revelation this season as his All-Star teammate, Victor Oladipo. Too many people wrote off Sabonis’ game during his subpar time in Oklahoma City, but the trade to Indiana has rejuvenated a tough, physical and athletic post player who I’ve always liked. He shows versatility on offense and defense. Sabonis is a winner. But I’m just not sure he’ll ever be an All-Star.

All-Star Chances: Six percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Dario Saric

PHI •

PF •

9

PPG14.7RPG6.9APG2.7

Lost in the narrative of the 76ers season — the emergence of Ben Simmons, the dominance of Embiid, the strange saga of Markelle Fultz — has been Saric’s emergence. He’s shooting 38.7 percent from three, and his 90 percent free-throw shooting makes you guess that is sustainable. He’s going to be a very solid player for a long time for one of the most intriguing young teams in the league. But probably never an All-Star.

All-Star Chances: Eight percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Ben Simmons

PHI •

PG •

25

PPG16.4APG7.3RPG7.7

If Simmons learns how to shoot, he’s more than just an All-Star; he’s an MVP candidate. The Australian has absolutely lived up to the sky-high expectations when the Sixers drafted him No. 1 overall a couple years ago. He’s a triple-double machine. He’s not LeBron, but he’s the closest the league has seen to a LeBron-like skill set since The Chosen One entered the league. The dude is going to be an All-Star sooner instead of later.

All-Star Chances: 96 percent

U.S. TEAM

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Lonzo Ball

LAL •

PG •

2

PPG10.2APG7.1RPG7.1

I made a dumb bet with a friend at the beginning of this season. I bet him that the pride of Chino Hills would be named to an All-Star roster within his first five seasons in the NBA. (Before the bet was finalized, I added “or an NBA champ within three years.” Come on, LeBron and Paul George, make your way to the Lakers.) Perhaps I was just drinking the Big Baller juice, but I’m not sure the bet is as dumb as it looks on the surface. First off, if the Ball family has proven itself adept at one thing, it’s creating buzz, and now that the fan vote is a vital part of an All-Star selection, I think that helps my chances. The other part is … well, I still believe in Lonzo’s game. Ugly jumper and all, I think he’s a winner. I think the shot will be fixed, and the confidence too. I think that Ball averaging 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for a good team is within the realm of possibility (if he can shoot something respectable from three). I don’t know if it’ll happen within five years. But I certainly think it’ll happen within 10.

All-Star Chances: 60 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Malcolm Brogdon

MIL •

PG •

13

PPG13.3APG3.2RPG3.3

What an amazing second-round pick by the Bucks in 2016. It’s picks like this that can take a franchise from having some promising potential to becoming a real winner. Brogdon’s a winner, a team player who plays great defense and efficient offense. I like his game a ton. But an All-Star? Sorry, man. The ceiling’s just not that high.

All-Star Chances: 10 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Jaylen Brown

BOS •

SG •

7

PPG14APG1.6RPG5.4

Brown is a fascinating case: A freakish athlete whose stats during his collegiate season were suppressed by an awful system. I was surprised the Celtcs took him as high as they did, but he always had a very high ceiling. It proved a wise choice. Brown has been an excellent two-way player for the NBA’s best defense. The ceiling is very high here for the 21-year-old whose three-point shooting — 37.8 percent — is his biggest surprise.

All-Star Chances: 60 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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John Collins

ATL •

PF •

20

PPG10.2RPG7APG1

Collins is the best rebounder of this rookie class. He’s a beast down low. He’s going to be an NBA player for a long time. But what is he beyond an elite rebounder? If he can develop into something more than that, that’s when All-Star even becomes a possibility.

All-Star Chances: Six percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Kris Dunn

CHI •

PG •

32

PPG13.5APG6.3RPG4.6

What a story for Dunn to find his sea legs in Chicago after all the rookie year struggles in Minnesota last season. Fred Hoiberg has given Dunn the keys and showed confidence in his abilities. He’s looked like a completely new man this season. Part of the issue with Dunn is that he’s already 23 years old in just his second season, so that surpresses his ceiling a bit. But if there’s anything this young man has done well in his life, it’s overcome adversity and beat expectations.

All-Star Chances: 20 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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De’Aaron Fox

SAC •

PG •

5

PPG11.3APG4.3RPG2.7

The issue with Fox now is the same as the issue with Fox going into the draft: Can he shoot it? If he becomes a good-to-great three-point shooter, you can pencil him into multiple All-Star Games. His 32.6 percent shooting from three is an improvement over his one-and-done season at Kentucky. He’s just an absurdly speedy, silly athlete with a likable, marketable game to go with his likable, marketable personality.

All-Star Chances: 35 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Brandon Ingram

LAL •

SF •

14

PPG16.1APG3.7RPG5.3

Ingram struggled mightily as a rookie, but he’s finding his confidence this season as his coach has trusted him more. He still needs to add muscle to his spindly frame; he’s made progress, but he’s nowhere near where he needs to be. If he gets there body-wise, his natural scoring ability can certainly vault him to All-Star status. You can see this year why the Lakers spent the No. 2 pick on Ingram. It was harder to see a year ago.

All-Star Chances: 35 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Kyle Kuzma

LAL •

PF •

0

PPG15.8APG1.8RPG5.9

As you read earlier, Kuzma’s made his young basketball career out of outpacing his modest expectations. No one would have projected an NBA future for someone who many didn’t even consider a top-100 recruit coming out of high school, but Kuzma always had the confidence and work ethic that he knew he could get there. Maybe this is another instance of someone not fully buying in on Kuzma’s talent, but making an All-Star roster seems a bit out of his reach. A longtime starter in the NBA? Absolutely. An All-Star? That’s rarefied air that I don’t believe Kuzma will be able to reach. Prove me wrong, young man.

All-Star Chances: 12 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Donovan Mitchell

UTA •

SG •

45

PPG: 19.5 APG, 3.4 RPG: 3.5

Ummm … wow. An offseason where the Jazz’s worst nightmare came true (Gordon Hayward leaving in free agency) became the franchise’s dream come true when they selected Mitchell with the 13th overall pick. Remember: Mitchell has only played basketball full-time for a few years. (He gave up his excellent baseball career in high school to focus on basketball.) He’s only 21 years old. He’s not a star in the making; he’s a star right now, and on both ends of the court. He can do it all.

All-Star Chances: 92 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Taurean Waller-Prince

ATL •

SF •

12

PPG12.2APG2.3RPG4.7

The 23-year-old Baylor product was one of the biggest surprises from the 2016 draft, and he’s played even better in more minutes for a tanking Atlanta Hawks team this season. He’s a hard worker who’ll continue to improve; the fact he is even in the NBA is a testament to his work ethic. But becoming an All-Star feels a stretch.

All-Star Chances: 5 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Dennis Smith Jr.

DAL •

PG •

1

PPG: 14.8 APG: 4.9 RPG: 3.9

Plenty of teams are kicking themselves for skipping on the ridiculously athletic Smith in the 2017 draft. He’s the type of player who you can build a franchise around. He’s still learning to play point guard at the NBA level, but that’s something you could say about any talented young player thrust into the most nuanced job in the league. Improve his shooting, cut down on the turnovers, and turn the Mavericks into a winning team and Smith will be an All-Star.

All-Star Chances: 70 percent

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Weekend: Gauging Rising Stars' odds of making future All-Star Game

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Jayson Tatum

BOS •

SF •

0

PPG13.5APG1.4RPG5.1

From the moment Tatum stepped on an NBA court, it looked like he belonged: The smooth shooting stroke, the mastery of offensive subtleties, the confidence that never crosses into arrogance. Despite a body that needs some filling out, he has always seemed like a grown man out there. Tatum is a fundamentally sound, mature player who still hasn’t turned 20. The question is whether his ceiling is All-Star or just 10-year NBA starter. If he keeps up his ridiculous three-point shooting (42.7 percent this season), he certainly has a chance.

All-Star Chances: 34 percent