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Meet the 2023 NBA All-Star Teams

The stars of the future, today!

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

It seems foolish to put much stock in what amounts to a list of players in a televised round of pickup basketball, but NBA All-Star Game rosters matter. They have a documentary quality that, when taken as a whole, adds up to a microhistory of the league and its ever-evolving delineation of eras. LeBron James, 33, is the oldest All-Star in the 2018 game. When he steps on the court on Sunday night, it will be the first time he plays in an All-Star Game without a fellow 2003 draftee alongside him or with any player from any draft class prior.

The 2016 game said goodbye to the final remnants of greatness in a half-decade of draft classes: Kobe Bryant, the last remaining All-Star from the Class of 1996; and Pau Gasol, the last one standing from 2001. Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett all retired in 2016; on the opening day of Cavaliers training camp for the 2016-17 season, LeBron told reporters, “It feels like our era is next.” James’s Banana Boat brother Chris Paul is the only 2005 draftee left realistically in the running for an All-Star roster spot, and at 32, it won’t be much longer until the Class of 2005, too, is archived for posterity. How much longer can LeBron keep his era alive?

Predicting the future is an exercise in futility, but also humanity. There is nothing more human than having the audacity to assume we know what the future holds. It’s stupid. It’s fun. It’s terrifying. Prognostication will point us in the direction of where basketball is heading, but it won’t tell us where exactly the NBA will be. Only seven of the 24 players who participated in the 2013 All-Star Game were named All-Stars in 2018. That same level of attrition is likely to occur in 2023—we just don’t know where it’ll come from.

And so we pose a simple question with an impossible answer: Who will be All-Stars five years from now?

I asked The Ringer’s resident statistician Zach Kram to create a census of All-Star Game rosters since the millennium, breaking down the age demographics of each year to find consistencies over the past 18 seasons. All-Star Game rosters, like everything else, show distinct patterns over time. His findings became a sort of All-Star roster template. Here is what the 2023 All-Star Game talent pool looks like today:

  • Five players are currently in their teens.
  • Twelve players (half the selection) are currently in the 20-24 age range.
  • Six players are 25-29.
  • Just one player is in his 30s.

Winnowing the field to fit these parameters is harder than it seems. Since 2000, only a third of a given year’s roster has participated in the All-Star Game five years earlier. Which means we can reasonably assume that only eight players from this year’s lot will be with us for the 2023 journey. So, I didn’t—at least not exactly. The eternal optimist in me couldn’t bear leaving some of the best basketball talents of this—or any—generation on the cutting room floor. Eleven of my 2023 All-Stars will play on Sunday. It’s wishful thinking, I know, considering what the past tells us. Situations change, injuries happen, and nothing is so linear that every single unicorn we’ve anointed in the past five years will make it through their primes unscathed. Especially not with so many of them already dealing with serious injury histories in their early 20s. But that’s OK. The point of the exercise here isn’t to nail the picks 24-for-24. Part of what makes roster selection such a fascinating archival document is how it rewards unlikely successes: Who could have predicted that the Hawks would have four All-Stars in 2015? Who could have predicted Victor Oladipo making the biggest leap of his career? We don’t know what the future holds, but we can start shaping the future we want to see.

Here are my 2023 All-Stars, broken down by the four demographic ranges (teens, 20-24, 25-29, 30-plus) listed above. Conference divisions, and possible player movement, were not taken into account because a lot can happen in five years.

The Teen Selections

Player Age in 2023
Player Age in 2023
R.J. Barrett 22
Luka Doncic 23
Deandre Ayton 24
Michael Porter Jr. 24
Jayson Tatum 24

The present-day teenagers who make the leap are all physically mature, NBA-ready players. A couple of them are already demonstrating serious impact in the two best professional basketball leagues in the world. Tatum is a Day 1 starter on an NBA Finals contender, and he has shown the kind of long-range accuracy that will open up his talents as an off-the-dribble creator once he’s featured in a more central role. Doncic is the best player on the most dominant team in the Spanish ACB, a point guard in a bully wing’s body, with all the vision, instinct, touch, poise, and competitive nature you could want from a steely veteran, let alone an 18-year-old.

Porter Jr., the no. 2 ranked player of the 2017 high school class, and Barrett, the no. 1 player of 2018, are two of the more polished offensive prospects in recent memory, with NBA frames to boot. Porter Jr. managed only two minutes of on-court play at Missouri this season before electing to have back surgery, but it appears as though his recovery is ahead of schedule. Supersized, athletic wings who can score from anywhere on the court off the dribble are exceedingly rare, and a player with his polish seems destined for NBA stardom. Barrett might be the best Canadian basketball prospect ever, and how he’s deployed both at Duke and in the NBA will help give shape to a 6-foot-7, 200-pound talent who could one day play four different positions.

Ayton is the most domineering physical specimen in college basketball right now, a 7-foot giant with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and an ungodly vertical leap who also unfairly possesses grace and touch. He’s invited comparisons to all of your favorite ’90s throwbacks—Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing—but none of them had the creative license to sling clutch 3-pointers down the stretch. Ayton is a land bridge between eras, and he has the talent to push us forward into the next.

Notable omissions? Marvin Bagley III, who is putting up monster numbers at Duke; Zion Williamson, the no. 2 recruit in 2018 who might be the biggest hoop-mixtape phenom since Thon Maker; and Cameron Reddish, a silky smooth wing (2018’s no. 3 recruit) with massive, omnipositional defensive potential and a pretty jumper. We’re splitting hairs here; development is fickle, but especially when we’re trying to predict the destiny of a teenager. The three talents who missed the cut have a higher burden of proof than the five who made it—how much will positionality (or lack thereof) hamper Bagley and Williamson’s future prospects? How much competitive fire is Reddish withholding from us, and will that aloofness put a ceiling on his star power?

The 20-24 Selections

Player Age in 2023
Player Age in 2023
Brandon Ingram 25
Jamal Murray 25
Devin Booker 26
Donovan Mitchell 26
Ben Simmons 26
Nikola Jokic 27
Kristaps Porzingis 27
Karl-Anthony Towns 27
Giannis Antetokounmpo 28
Joel Embiid 28
Bradley Beal 29
Anthony Davis 29

Have you ever lost sleep for an entire week mulling over decisions you already know are incorrect? There is, at best, a 2 percent chance this list of 12 players will hold up in five years. So many of these picks are obvious, and that shows the limits of my lizard brain. It’s hard not to think linearly when we’re gawking at the early-superstar ascent of players like Mitchell and Simmons, who have a good chance of tying for Rookie of the Year. I also have all of the unicorns lined up in their stables: Giannis, AD, Embiid, Porzingis, KAT, Jokic. History tells us only two will make it out from the war of attrition, but we don’t have to live in that reality yet.

The biggest takeaway from the list is that there are no “traditional” point guards among the 12, but it’s less an indictment on the rising crop of players like Dennis Smith Jr., Lonzo Ball, and De’Aaron Fox (all considered), and more a broader look at what it means to be a facilitator in the league going forward. From Murray to Mitchell, Booker to Ingram, Simmons to Giannis, players of all shapes and sizes have been handed the reins to being a team’s primary creator. In the near future, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Doncic and Barrett spend time at the point; teams making huge investments on young, versatile talents would be best served by putting the ball in their hands, and all that comes with that responsibility. Both players could also moonlight as small-ball 4s. Versatility is an imperative today, but it’ll be second nature then.

It’s strange to think of the consequences here. Playmaking wings are the new grail; sweet-shooting big men who can put the ball on the floor are the new norm. We’ve lamented the death of the traditional big man for years; soon, we may see the waning presence of the star traditional point guard whose utility is limited to one position on both sides of the floor. Both extremes are being squeezed out. The mid is selling.

The 25-29 Selections

Player Age in 2023
Player Age in 2023
Kyrie Irving 30
Victor Oladipo 30
Kawhi Leonard 31
James Harden 33
Steph Curry 34
Kevin Durant 34

We’re mostly playing the hits here. Even in five years, it’s hard not to envision some of the most influential players of this generation maintaining star power into their mid-30s. By 34, Durant might transition to being a 3-and-D center full-time, turning into the best possible version of Clifford Robinson. Curry’s model would be Steve Nash, who made All-Star appearances at age 36 and 38. It would be fascinating if Curry extends his range toward the end of his career to make up for the last ounces of his speed and shiftiness running dry. Harden could conceivably do his top-of-the-arc dance routine until his beard turns Nene gray. It’s been a season of doom and gloom for Kawhi Leonard, but at his best, he’s a top-five player in the league today—and he’d be only 31 in 2023.

Irving and Oladipo are the young pups of the lot: Kyrie’s handles and finishing ability might be as influential to the next generation of basketball players as Steph’s 3-point shot for every situation; Oladipo is a late bloomer who has transformed his body, and if we aren’t overly generous with those Dwyane Wade comparisons, his two-way ability should hold at an All-Star level when he’s in his prime.

Omitting Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George was a knife straight through the heart. Butler has had an MVP-caliber season so far for the Wolves, and in theory, his game is pickled in time—it’s more an assertion of power than it is speed or explosiveness. But he’s played more than 1,000 career minutes (including the postseason) more than Leonard, his fellow 2011 draftee, despite Kawhi making two different Finals trips. There is a lot of tread on his tires at 28, and it’s hard to imagine his workload slacking if his partnership with Tom Thibodeau continues into the next decade.

George is the platonic ideal for a 3-and-D swingman in the modern NBA, and I don’t have any doubts that he’d still be a star player at 32, but so much of George’s future feels attached to someone else’s whims. Does he join LeBron? Does he stay with Westbrook? The older players get, the more they need their reputation to give them a boost when it comes to All-Star Game selection. Winning a championship in the next four years would do wonders. The thing about archetypes is they evolve and mutate. He’s not only boxing out against his peers but he’s also boxing out the younger stars emerging from beneath.

When Westbrook is at his best, it’s easier to translate his athletic anomalies to other sports than it is to convince yourself that he’s playing the same game as everyone else. He hasn’t yet been slowed by any of his three knee injuries, but things are different in your 30s (so I’ve heard). For a player who has always tried to shoulder every conceivable burden for his team, he’ll have to do that while also balancing the weight of time pressing down on him. At 34, that might be more than even Westbrook can manage.

The 30-Plus Selection

Player Age in 2023
Player Age in 2023
LeBron James 38

Who else could it possibly be? Assuming LeBron is selected and plays in each of the next five All-Star Games, he would tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star Game selections with 19, and yet be all alone at the top in All-Star Games played (Abdul-Jabbar played in 18). Around this time in 2023, LeBron James Jr. might have already committed to his college of choice or declared for the draft outright, pending what seems like an inevitable change to the one-and-done rule. It would be quite the valediction for one of the greatest players of all time. But considering everything we know about LeBron’s past, how often we’ve glossed over his present, and how wrong we’ve been over the years about his future, he’d be back for 2024, too.