Image Credit: Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)
It’s All-Star Weekend, a time when we celebrate the best of the best in the NBA. Only a select few players are selected to share the court and forever carry with them the title of NBA All-Star.
There’s always a lot of talk about which players are snubbed from the All-Star Game each year. There are always more deserving players than All-Star roster spots available so someone is bound to get snubbed every year. Most of the time when people feel like a player was snubbed, they are able to make the roster another year.
Then there are those who are deserving but that other chance never comes. This article is dedicated to them, the best to never make it.
Fellow Mavs Fans For Life writer, Josh Mazur, brought this question up on twitter the other day and I thought it was a great topic worthy of a little more research. A few names quickly came to mind like Jamal Crawford and Monta Ellis, more recently Devin Booker and Rudy Gobert (until he was selected a few days later), but beyond that it was tough to come up with many names off the top of my head. I decided to dive in a little deeper to try to uncover the best players that never had the opportunity to share the floor with the NBA elite. The players who will go down as the best to never make it.
Most Games Played, Never an All-Star
For starters, let’s just take a look at the guys who have played the most games in NBA history without ever making an All-Star Game.
Playing the most games is a pretty basic filter for the best to never be an All-Star but I think it yielded some pretty interesting results. Some of these are names you will see pop up throughout this article.
Dallas Mavericks legend Jason Terry has played the most games in the NBA without having ever made an All-Star Game. Not really a list you take too much pride in but at least it gives us another opportunity to reflect on Jason Terry’s incredible career culminating in a magical Championship run with the Dallas Mavericks.
Throughout Jason Terry’s 19 years and 1,401 regular season games, there were really two seasons that stood out as chances for him to make an NBA All-Star team.
In 2001, Jason Terry was 24 years old and was on an Atlanta Hawks team with only one other player averaging at least 10 points per game in Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Shareef was averaged 21 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, and a block on his way to earning an All-Star appearance. Abdur-Rahim certainly had an good all-around stat line and this was his one and only All-Star Game so I can’t be too mad at him for stealing a spot from Jet.
This was Jason Terry’s best chance to make an All-Star Game. He was playing big minutes for a mediocre team but he was scoring efficiently and making plays for his team, shown by his 5.7 assists per game. If the team had a little more help and won a few more games, maybe Terry would have had a chance of knocking off Baron Davis with the Charlotte Hornets or Antione Walker with the Boston Celtics.
The 2008-2009 Season Jet was even more efficient scoring with more points per game in less minutes than he played in 2001. His role on this Dallas Mavericks team was much different than what he was asked to do for Atlanta 7 years earlier. Instead of starting and needing to make plays for everyone, now Terry was a sixth-man lightning rod scorer who’s only real job was to get buckets. Alongside Dirk, Jason Kidd, Josh Howard (51 games), Erick Dampier, and JJ Barea, the Rick Carlisle led Mavs won 50 games and knocked off the #3 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
I don’t think you can take Jason Terry over any of the Guards who were named All-Stars in 2009 with Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy, and Chauncey Billups all playing at really high levels that year. You could make a case for Jason Terry over David West but I’m afraid that Jet’s sacrifice to take the bench role with Dallas put him on the outside looking in as one of the best to never make it.
Most Career Points, Never an All-Star
Of the top 100 scorers in NBA history there are only three players to have never been named an All-Star: Jamal Crawford, Eddie Johnson, and Jason Terry.
It is no surprise to see Jamal Crawford on this list, he has been getting buckets for a long long time in the NBA. When Crawford is hot he is as fun to watch as anyone with his limitless range and smooth behind the back crossovers. Crawford is a 3-time Sixth Man of the Year, he has scored at least 50 points in a game on 4 separate occasions including the last game he ever played which also happened to be Dirk’s last home game. Even at age 39 Jamal Crawford could put on an absolute show.
What is a little surprising is that Crawford only averaged 20 points per game once in his 19 NBA Seasons. In 2007-2008, at age 27, Crawford started 80 games with the New York Knicks and posted a stat line of 20.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal per game. Under Head Coach Isaiah Thomas and next to Stephon Marbury, Zach Randolph, David Lee, Q-Rich, and Eddy Curry, the Knicks went 23-50.
2007-2008 Season Stats
When you look at a few of the players named to the All-Star Game in 2008, it seems like maybe Crawford should have made the team. While the boys in Detroit did not put up eye-popping numbers, their efficiency and winning record prevent you from making any serious gripe about their respectability as All-Stars. Jason Kidd, however, is one that needs to be looked at a little closer. Only 10 points per game, very low field goal percentage, and was on a sub-.500 team in the Eastern Conference at the end of January 2008. In the end, Jamal Crawford missed out on ever being an All-Star because he was just a volume scorer. Even through he average 10 more points than J-Kidd in 2008, Kidd helped his team by pulling down rebounds, racking up assists, and getting steals at a very high rate. Despite being one of my favorite players to watch, because he was fairly one dimensional, Jamal Crawford will go down as one of the best to never make it.
Highest Single Season Points Per Game, Never an All-Star
Scoring a bunch of points per game is usually the easiest way to make the NBA All Star Game. Unfortunately that didn’t hold true for this bunch. Purvis Short and Monta Ellis stand out as some of the biggest snubs as far as scorers go that never had the chance to suit up in an All-Star Game.
[The Devin Booker write-up has been deleted since he was recently named as an injury replacement All-Star for Damian Lillard (Groin)]
|Purvis Short||28||Golden State Warriors||1984-1985|
|Devin Booker||26.6||Phoenix Suns||2018-2019|
|Monta Ellis||25.5||Golden State Warriors||2009-2010|
|Purvis Short||25.5||Golden State Warriors||1985-1986|
|Monta Ellis||24.1||Golden State Warriors||2010-2011|
|Zach Lavine||23.7||Chicago Bulls||2018-2019|
|Kevin Martin||23.7||Sacramento Kings||2007-2008|
Purvis Short is holding down two of the top scoring seasons among players who have never made an All-Star Game, averaging 28 points per game in 1984-85 and 25.5 points per game the next season.
Short was a 6’7″ Small Forward that played 12 seasons in the NBA after being drafted 5th overall in 1978 by the Golden State Warriors, one spot ahead of Larry Bird. At his peak, Purvis Short was a scoring machine with his high arcing mid-range jumper. He had a 3 year peak in the mid 80’s that most NBA players would dream of.
Purvis Short 3 Year Peak 1983-84 through 1985-1986
Over these three years Purvis Short was getting buckets. 25 efficient points per game with 57 and 59 point outburst included. The 28 points per game that Short averaged in 1984-1985 was 4th in the NBA that year behind Bernard King (32.9 ppg), Larry Bird (28.7 ppg), and Michael Jordan (28.2 ppg). This is the third highest season scoring average for a player who was not named to the NBA All-Star team that year. World B. Free (28.8 ppg) and Tiny Archibald (28.2 ppg) are the only players to score more and not have been an All-Star that season, the difference is that those guys earned All-Star nods in other years and Purvis Short never did.
The problem for Purvis Short is that his Warriors were at the bottom of the Western Conference Standings for pretty much the entire year. on January 1st, when All-Star balloting really starts picking up, the Warriors were 10-20. Even worse, by the time the All-Star game came around one month later, they were an abysmal 11-38. Purvis was doing his thing and Sleepy Floyd chipped in a bit, but aside from that the roster that year seemed to be void of talent. The whole three year period during Short’s statistical peak the Warriors only won 89 of their 246 games, spoiling any sort of chance Purvis had to join the NBA’s elite.
In Dallas we love Monta, he had some great years playing side-kick for Dirk with the Mavericks. The Mavs had first round Playoff exits in both of the Monta years, one of which was 7 games with the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, but Monta put on a show every night and his heart made him a fan favorite.
Monta’s statistical peak was in the 2009-2010 season when he averaged 25.5 points, 4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 2.2 steals in over 41 minutes per game. This was for a 26-56 Warriors team where Monta was a volume scorer, slicing through the lane and taking any shot he wanted under Coach Don Nelson and alongside a 21 year old Steph Curry.
The Western Conference guards that stopped Monta Ellis from ever being an All-Star were Steve Nash (oddly the only guard in the West starting lineup with Melo, Dirk, Duncan, and Stoudemire) and reserves Deron Williams (Utah), Chauncey Billups (Denver), and Jason Kidd (DAL).
When you see them all side by side it seems pretty clear that our guy Jason Kidd stole Monta Ellis’ best chance to become an All-Star. On January 31, 2010 the Golden State Warriors were 13-33 (14th in West) while the Dallas Mavericks were 30-17 (3rd in West). When it comes to coaches voting for All-Star reserves, they tend to reward winning more than statistical accomplishments, which is understandable. I love Jason Kidd, but I wish Monta had earned the All-Star nod that year so he wouldn’t have to go down as one of the best to never make it.
Also an All-Star this year was an eventual Dallas Maverick, Chris Kaman, who averaged 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Now we live in a World where Chris Kaman was an NBA All-Star and Monta Ellis was not.
Highest Career PER, Never an All-Star
Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a complicated equation used to calculate a per minute rating of a player’s statistical production. In short, it sums up all of the good things a player does and subtracts the bad things.
In the history of the NBA, there are only two players in the top 100 in career PER who have never made an All-Star game.
Al Jefferson was a model of consistency for almost a decade, averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds over a 502 game period for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz and Charlotte Hornets. From the 2007-2008 season through 2013-2014 Al Jefferson had a 7-year peak of NBA All-Star worthy stats.
Al Jefferson 7-Year Peak (2007-2014)
Jefferson was a big man with the softest of touch. There wasn’t anything flashy about his game, his minutes were filled with back-to-the-basket post-ups and below the rim scoop and flip shots.
He was drafted 15th overall by the Celtics in 2004 and was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Summer of 2007 in the Kevin Garnett deal. In that 2007 draft the T-Wolves had 4! first round picks (5, 6, 18, 28). This is the infamous draft where they managed to pick three point guards in the first round, none of which were named Steph Curry, who was drafted 7th, while the Wolves were left holding Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flinn, and Ty Lawson. What a franchise changing and NBA changing draft decision by then Vice President of Basketball Operations, Kevin McHale, to first trade Garnett to his buddies in Boston then pick two point guards ahead of Steph Curry.
This left Al Jefferson on a 2008-2009 roster with the cast of Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Mike Miller, and a 20 year old Kevin Love who were collectively 17-34 at the time of the All-Star Game. Jefferson averaged 23.1 points, 11 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks over 50 games that season. All 50 games he played were literally the first 50 games of the season and his last game was just days after All-Stars were announced. It’s almost as if not being named an All-Star made Big Al decide to just hang it up and try again next year.
The 2009 NBA All-Star Western Conference roster was loaded with top level big men: Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol. But one name stands out as someone who Al Jefferson could have been selected over that year, and that’s David West of the New Orleans Hornets.
David West averaged 21 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a block per game for New Orleans that year while being surrounded by a talented and well constructed roster of Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, and Rasual Butler that were 30-20 at the time of the All-Star Game. Again, it’s another case of team winning over individual performance that earns the spot.
Al Jefferson will go down as one of the most productive players to never make an All-Star game. Jefferson ranked 63rd in career Player Efficiency Rating, was All-NBA Third Team in 2014, and played for 14 seasons with a 7 year peak, but never received All-Star honors because the most wins any of his teams had during this 7 year peak was 43. It may not be his fault, but that’s how it goes for Al Jefferson.
Highest Single Season PER, Never an All-Star
Al Jefferson and Greg Monroe were efficient over their entire careers but which players had the most productive and efficient seasons but have never been honored as an All-Star?
Highest Single Season PER – At least 15 MPG and 55 GP
|Hassan Whiteside||25.7||Miami Heat||2015-16|
|Montrezl Harrell||24.7||LA Clippers||2017-18|
|Arvydas Sabonis||24.7||Portland Trail Blazers||1995-96|
In the 2016-2017 Season Hassan Whiteside posted the highest ever PER for a player that has never made an All-Star game. He would have also been on the list of highest career PER for someone never named an All-Star but he is just short of the 400 game criteria used by basketballreference.com. Later this year he will join that list.
Whiteside is a master rebounder and short blocker who does not have much offensive game aside from dunks and put-backs. However, his incredibly high shooting percentage combined with his massive rebounding and block numbers makes him an extremely efficient player as far as the box score in concerned.
The Eastern Conference All-Star forward/centers in 2016 were your starters, LeBron and Carmelo, and reserves Paul Millsap, Andre Drummond, Al Horford (replaced Chris Bosh), and Pau Gasol (replaced Jimmy Butler).
2015-2016 Season Stats
When All-Stars were announced in 2016 the Miami Heat were the 3 seed in the East, just a touch ahead of the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Detroit Pistons. This is not a case of a player putting up big numbers on a losing team, Whiteside’s team was winning, he had big numbers, but still couldn’t make it.
His 3.7 blocks were more than double that of any of the players listed above. Whiteside led the league by far in blocks in 2015-2016 with the next closest being DeAndre Jordan with 2.3 per game. Whiteside had 3 triple doubles this season with points, rebounds, and blocks, all of which came before the All-Star Game.
Mavericks fans may remember Whiteside’s 25 points, 19 rebound pounding of the Mavs that season when the Heat stomped them by 24 points. With all of this said, Hassan Whiteside has a good reason to feel snubbed in 2016.
If Whiteside goes in, someone has to come out. I think Whiteside should have had Al Horford’s spot this year. 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks makes Horford a really solid center, but Whiteside earned All-Star status with his monster production.
Montrez Harrell being on this list shows a little bit of the flaw of the Player Efficiency Rating stat. Harrell’s 24.7 PER in 2017-2018 is second highest ever for someone who has never made an All-Star Game but nobody would argue that he should have been chosen. He averaged 11 points and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. When you look at his per 36 minute numbers they are impressive, but you cannot be an All-Star playing 17 minutes a game, not to mention coming off the bench.
Montrezl Harell 2017-2018 Season Stats
Regardless, Harrell’s breakout in 2016 doesn’t seem to be a fluke. Now playing 26 minutes a game he has still posted PER’s of 23.4 and now 22.7 over the last two seasons while still coming off the bench for the Clippers. It seems fair to acknowledge Harrell as someone who has not made an All-Star Game but he still has a long way to go to crack that list in the West.
Arvydas Sabonis was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1986 but did not actually make his NBA debut until 1995 because he could not receive approval from the Soviet Union to come play in the United States. A legend in international basketball, Sabonis came into the NBA at age 31 after a slew of foot injuries and a ruptured Achilles tendon. Even still, in Sabonis’ first year in the NBA he earned first team All-Rookie honors ahead of Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. Sabonis played with a level of efficiency and productivity that make him one of the best to never make an All-Star Game.
Arvydas Sabonis 1995-1996 Regular Season Stats
There is no way Sabonis was going to be an All-Star in 1996 over Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, or Dikembe Mutombo but he has the third highest PER of any player to never be an All-Star regardless.
Sabonis only started 21 games in the regular season and played a limited 24 minutes per night, but once the Playoffs rolled around, the 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers unleashed the 7’3″ Lithuanian on the Karl Malone, John Stockton, and the Utah Jazz. In this first round series that went the full 5 games, Sabonis played over 35 minutes per game, scoring 23.6 point and 10.2 rebounds per game.
Sabonis played over 500 NBA games including 51 Playoff games, a long career that almost anyone would take. However, the size and skill Sabonis showed late in his career leaves you wondering what else he could have accomplished if he was able to get to the NBA sooner.
When it comes to Player Efficiency Rating, big men rule supreme over guards in most cases because of their higher shooting percentages and ability to rack up rebounds more than guards can typically rack up assists. For that reason I wanted to filter for the highest single season PER for a guard who has never been an All-Star to see who we are missing out on.
|Andre Miller||21.8||Cleveland Cavaliers||2001-02|
|Larry Hughes||21.6||Washington Wizards||2004-05|
|Rod Strickland||21.6||Portland Trail Blazers||1994-95|
17 year NBA veteran Andre Miller is 11th in All-Time assists, 20th in games played, 41st in career steals, but has never made an All-Star Game. He has the highest single season PER for a guard, the third most career games, the fourth most career points, most career assists, and the highest single season assists of any player to never make an All-Star Game.
Andre Miller 2001-2002 Regular Season Stats
Andre Miller had a two-fer in this 2001-2002 season. Not only was it the highest single season PER for any guard to have never made an All-Star game but it was also the highest single season assist per game average for such a player as well.
Miller wasn’t going to make an All-Star game on a team that won 29 games all year and whose other best players were Wesley Person and Lamond Murray. Regardless, Andre Miller had an Assist Percentage of 49.8% this season. That’s a higher mark than Jason Kidd ever had. Miller’s 16.5% Turnover Percentage that year would also have been the 5th best mark of Jason Kidd’s 21 year career. I bring that up just to illustrate how impressive Andre Miller’s efficient playmaking was in 2002 on his way to leading the league in assists ahead of Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Baron Davis, and John Stockton.
Miller had a 22 assist and 9 steal game in December of 2001, and a back to back set of games where he had a 22 point, 17 assist, 10 rebound triple-double and a 27 point and 19 assist game. Miller may not have earned All-Star honors but he has strongly made his case for the best to never make it.
In the 2004-2005 season two Washington Wizards made the All-Star Game and neither of them were Larry Hughes. Despite being first team All-Defense this season while averaging over 22 points, over 6 rebounds, and over 4.5 assists per game, and having a higher PER than any of his teammates over the whole season, it was Hughes on the outside looking in for the All-Star Game.
2004-2005 Washington Wizards Trio’s Season Stats
Not only did both of Hughes’ teammates make the All-Star Game over him, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was chosen as an All-Star reserve. Tough break for Larry Hughes. He was scoring, rebounding, making plays, and locking down on defense but will have to settle for going down as one of the best to never make it.
Most Career Rebounds, Never an All-Star
After being drafted 2nd overall by the Toronto Raptors in 1996, Marcus Camby had a 17 year NBA career that included NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, 14th in MVP voting in 2005, led the NBA in blocks per game 4 times, was 2nd in rebounds per game twice, but never an All-Star.
Camby was a really good rebounder and a great shot blocker, as you can tell by his accolades listed above. He had a 3-year peak with the Denver Nuggets from the ’05-’06 season through the ’07-’08 season where he was at or near the top of the NBA in blocks and rebounds each year.
Marcus Camby 3-Year Statistical Peak
With the super high rebounding and all-time great block numbers combined with the Nuggets being a winning team each of these three Seasons make it a bit surprising that Camby couldn’t earn one All-Star nod during this run.
Camby’s All-Star snub beef lies with the NBA choosing Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz as an injury replacement over him for the 2008 All-Star Game. At the end of January 2008, when All-Star reserves were chosen, the Utah Jazz were 6 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets who were 22-21. The NBA chose to go with the better record and chose Okur’s three point shooting over Camby’s rebounding and shot blocking.
2006-2007 Regular Season Stats
It is tough to decipher who was more impactful by their box scores. They both excel in certain areas. If you look at advanced stats, Camby’s Player Efficiency Rating (19.1) was a touch ahead of Okur’s (18.1). 38% three point shooting on over 4 attempts from the center position is impressive from Okur, but to me, the defensive performance of 11.7 block, 1.2 steals, and 3.3 blocks is more impressive. There are not a lot of shots to go around when you have Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and JR Smith on your team so I don’t fault Camby for only scoring 11 points per game.
Marcus Camby never had much of an offensive game. His highest scoring average was 14.8 points per game in his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors. If he had ever developed a signature shot and was able to bump that scoring average up to 15 points a game while he was dominating defensively in his peak, it seems like a given that Camby would have made an All-Star Game at some point. Now he’s left as one of the best that never made it.
Lamar Odom is an interesting case. He is a Two time NBA Champion and 2011 Sixth Man of the Year. Most of the guys talked about in this article put up big numbers on bad teams or were specialist in a certain area. Lamar Odom was an all-around really good player who played on some winning Lakers teams in his prime. He was the second best player for the Lakers for several years when they were hovering just a little above .500, but then when Pau Gasol joined the group and Lamar Odom took a sixth man role that is when the team really took off to Championship caliber. The team may have changed, but Lamar Odom was pretty consistent throughout the first 12 years of his career. His peak years during that period were not far off from his worst.
Lamar Odom Combined Stats from 1999 to 2011 (12 seasons)
A 6’10” point guard at times, the beauty of Lamar Odom was the versatility of his game. In his prime, he could give a team whatever they needed. Whether it be scoring, rebounding, playmaking, perimeter or post defense, and occasionally long range shooting, Odom could do it all.
He never had a standout season that would make him seem like an All-Star snub but he was the second or third best player on several Playoff and Championship teams to cement his place as one of the best to never make it.
Highest Single Season Rebounds Per Game, Never an All-Star
|Hassan Whiteside||14.1||Miami Heat||2016-17|
|Tom Boerwinkle||13.8||Chicago Bulls||1970-71|
|Ray Scott||13.5||Baltimore Bullets||1967-68|
|Happy Hairston||13.5||Los Angeles Lakers||1973-74|
|Marcus Camby||13.1||Denver Nuggets||2007-08|
We have already covered Hassan Whiteside’s paint dominance when discussing the highest Player Efficiency Ratings for players who have never made an All-Star Game and how he has a snub case against Al Horford in 2016.
We just talked about Marcus Camby’s defensive prowess and how he also has a snub case against Mehmet Okur in 2007.
Everyone remembers good ol’ “Mr. Inside” Tom Boerwinkle, right? How about Bullets great Ray Scott? You must remember Happy Hairston, the only player to ever take his shoe off and try to hit somebody with it? (Not really, just a Happy Gilmore joke). Well okay, let’s recognize them as some of the best to never make it and move on.
Most Career Assists, Never an All-Star
Rod Strickland had an 18 year career of breaking defenders ankles, finishing crafty layups, and setting up his teammates for easy buckets. He pops up in several lists on this Best to Never Make it article, not only is he amongst the highest career assists without making an All-Star Game, he has the one of the highest single season assists per game and single season PER for a guard for players who have never made it.
Rod Strickland 6-Year Statistical Peak
Rod is 1 of only 4 players in NBA history to ever have a season of at least 17 points and 10 assists per game while not being named an All-Star that year. You can pick out several of these seasons as All-Star caliber so it is crazy that Strickland was never chosen once.
The 1994-1995 season with the Portland Trail Blazers was probably Strickland’s best statistical season of his career. Here are Strickland’s season stats alongside the guards who made the All-Star Game in 1995:
What is Latrell Sprewell doing in this All-Star Game? The answer, he was voted in. The Warriors were 12-28, the third worst team in the West, yet fans decided they were in love with Sprewell. His teammate, Tim Hardaway, was actually more deserving that year but the fans have spoken.
Strickland wasn’t even in the top 10 of voting for West guards. Grant Hill was the League leading vote getter that year and MFFLs had rookie Jason Kidd 5th amongst West guards.
Despite a really productive and long peak to his career, Strickland never got the recognition he deserved. He was All-Rookie second team in 1989 and All-NBA second team in 1998, but never an All-Star.
I have to shoutout the great Derek Harper. Longtime point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, Harp was the definition of a professional, as a player. His #12 hangs in the rafters in the American Airlines Center for what he accomplished as a player but he remains a fan favorite for his fantastic work alongside the great Mark Followill on the Fox Sports Southwest TV broadcast. Although some young MFFLs may only know Harp for his TV work, let’s not forget who he was on the court.
Derek Harper arrived in Dallas as a rookie in the 1983 draft, the Mavs were young team and a young franchise that had not yet seen the Playoffs in its three year existence. This changed when Derek Harper arrived in the 1983-1984 season and Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman, and Jay Vincent (all age 24) began to really gel on the court orchestrated by point guard Brad Davis.
The Mavs continued to add pieces over the next several years culminating in a 7-game Western Conference Finals showdown against the eventual 1988 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. This remained the pinnacle of Dallas basketball achievement until the ’02-’03 season when Dirk, Finley, and Nash won 60 games and lost in the Conference Finals to the eventual Champion Spurs and NBA MVP Tim Duncan.
Derek Harper had a really good 5-year peak from 1986-1991. His efficient scoring and playmaking combined with his leadership and defensive impact on a winning team make him an All-Star in my book. No need to see who may have robbed him of ever being an All-Star, Derek Harper is immortalized in the history of the Dallas Mavericks for everything he has done for this franchise.
Derek Harper 5-Year Statistical Peak
Highest Single Season Assists Per Game, Never an All-Star
|Andre Miller||10.9||Cleveland Cavaliers||2001-02|
|Muggsy Bogues||10.7||Charlotte Hornets||1989-90|
|John Lucas||10.7||San Antonio Spurs||1989-84|
|Rod Strickland||10.5||Washington Wizards||1997-98|
|Muggsy Bogues||10.1||Charlotte Hornets||1993-94|
We will end our player profiles with undoubtedly one of the best to never make an All-Star game, the incredible Muggsy Bogues. Muggsy has the 23rd most assists in NBA history. He also has the third most career assists and two of the top 5 assists seasons for any player who has never made an All-Star Game.
Muggsy Bogues is the only player in NBA history to have a season averaging more than 10 points per game and less than 2 turnovers per game as he did in the 1989-90 season with the Charlotte Hornets.
Muggsy played pedal to the metal at the point guard position. If he saw a lane in the open court it was over, he was too fast and too skilled for defenders to have a chance. Despite being extremely undersized in just about any matchup, Muggsy was a pesky defender who had a knack for coming up with the ball. If a big guy put it on the floor when Muggsy was around you can be sure he was swiping at it, probably knocking it loose.
Bogues was producing high level playmaking without turning the ball over for a solid 6-year peak throughout the early 90’s.
Muggsy Bogues 6-Year Statistical Peak
It is not unprecedented for point guards to make the All-Star Game despite only averaging around 10 points per game. More recently, low scoring, high assist guards like Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo have made several All-Star Games while averaging less than 12 points per game. You compare these stat lines to what Bogues was doing in the early 90’s and you will see a striking resemblance. These guys may have pulled down a few more rebounds than Muggsy but they were also turning the ball over at a much higher rate.
Muggsy is another case of the fans really ruining things when voting for the All-Stars. In 1994 the leading vote getter amongst guards in the East was the Chicago Bulls’ BJ Armstrong. With Michael Jordan sitting out, BJ Armstrong apparently became the new apple of Bulls fans eyes. Armstrong received more votes than his teammate Scottie Pippen and was third in the entire NBA behind Shaq and Charles Barkley.
1993-1994 Season Player Comparison
BJ Armstrong was an All-Star starter and Muggsy Bogues is left being one of the best players to never make it. Seeing Muggsy on the big stage whipping passes to Shaq, Patrick Ewing, and Dominique Wilkins would have been a blast. Bogues is the perfect All-Star game type point guard. He would be one of the few who look to set up teammates rather than score on their own and everything he does looks spectacular because of his speed, skill, and size.
There they are, the best to never make the All-Star Game. It’s about time that we honor these players on this special weekend for basketball.
You have the guys with long productive careers like Jason Terry, Derek Harper, Jamal Crawford, Marcus Camby, and Lamar Odom.
Then there are the guys who had standout single seasons but never made it like Purvis Short, Monta Ellis, Larry Hughes, Hassan Whiteside, and Arvydas Sabonis.
But ultimately the real ‘best to never make it’ are those who did both, had long statistical peaks and single standout seasons. Al Jefferson, Andre Miller, Rod Strickland, and John Lucas, and Muggsy Bogues can be found near the top of the All-Time list and at the top of single season lists in their respective categories. I say it is a shame that none of these guys get to carry the moniker of NBA All-Star. Their consolation prize is being highlighted in this article on a list they don’t want to be on. Congratulations to ‘the best to never make it’.