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Hassan Whiteside makes ESPN shortlist as possible first-time All-Star

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ESPN panel lists four Eastern Conference players as potential picks for their first trip to the All-Star game.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN polled its NBA experts to name their choices as first-time members on the NBA All-Star team in February 2018.

The four Eastern Conferences choices were Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Hassan Whiteside. The panel wrote the Miami Heat's poor start was the only reason Whiteside wasn't on the team last season.

When it comes to All-Star production, Whiteside is already there. He averaged 17 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks per game, just the 13th time anyone has done that for an entire season, but the first time anyone has done it and not made the All-Star team.

At least when it comes to 2016-17, it's easy to pin Whiteside's snub on his team's performance. Heading into Jan. 26 last season, the day that All-Star reserves were announced, the Heat were 16-30 and in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. At that point in the season, Whiteside's numbers were All-Star-worthy: 16.9 points, 13.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game on 55 percent shooting.

If Miami starts off with a winning record, he’ll probably be on the court Feb. 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, as part of the NBA’s Eastern Conference All-Star lineup. Other members of the Heat may join Whiteside. The ever-confident Dion Waiters, if he can meet his own irrational expectations, may be there as a representative of Waiters Island.

The seven top players to get votes were:

  • Karl-Anthony Towns (108)
  • Kristaps Porzingis (104)
  • Joel Embiid (96)
  • Rudy Gobert (96)
  • Nikola Jokic (96)
  • Bradley Beal (84)
  • Hassan Whiteside (72)

The players listed above, who are stuck on losing teams before the All-Star break, may be snubbed again in the balloting, in favor of guys who are part of more visible and glamorous teams.

A invigorated Miami team, if it can continue their strong finish from last season, could make the difference in the Heat creating their own in-house All-Stars going into the playoffs.