Making the All-Star Game is one of the most significant achievements in an NBA career. Some players are regular All-Stars, some players get a few appearances, some players have one-time wonder seasons and make it, while unfortunately, most players never manage to make it. When Mike Conley was announced as an All-Star replacement this year, many people jokingly said it hurt his legacy, as it removed him from the possibility of being the best player never to make an All-Star Game. But that won’t stop us from naming the five best players in the history of the NBA, never to notch an All-Star appearance.
Honorable mentions: Cedric Maxwell, Toni Kukoč, Arvydas Sabonis, Jason Terry, Richard Jefferson, Marcus Camby, Andre Miller
#5 Sam Perkins
Best career year: 16.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.2 apg (1991-1992)
The 6’9” lefty power forward had a very long and consistent career, always on the verge of making it. Perkins played on a few good teams and was always in the background, being the third option. Playing in an era of numerous great big men didn’t do him justice, as Sam Perkins never got his chance to be in the spotlight. But even without an All-Star appearance, Perkins’s consistency and longevity in the league earned him a spot on this list.
#4 Lamar Odom
Best career year: 15.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 4.8 apg (2006-2007)
The versatile all-around Lamar Odom was an original point forward during his career, being able to do everything on the court. His most notable years came with the Lakers coming off the bench as a 6th man and being a crucial part of them winning back-to-back championships. Even though Odom was the third option on one of the best teams in the league, he never managed to get into the All-Star Game. Switching a few teams during the earlier part of his career hurt him a bit, as he never had a consistent role until becoming the 6th man for the Lakers.
#3 Ron Harper
Best career year: 22.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.2 apg (1989-1990)
Harper‘s first eight years with the Cavaliers were outstanding, leaving a question mark on how in the world he never managed to make it even once. The competition between the guards in the East at the time was brutal, with Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas dominating for quite a while. When he went to the Bulls, Harper committed to being a role player and never sniffed an opportunity ever again. But the real fans know how good Ron Harper was even though he never made it.
#2 Rod Strickland
Best career year: 17.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 10.5 apg (1997-1998)
Strickland‘s career wasn’t nearly consistent enough like some of the other players on this list, but in those few years he had his peak, Rod was one of the most exciting and better point guards in league with Portland and Washington. He wasn’t the best shooter, but he could do everything else on the court, slicing defenses with his speed and quick handle. Like many others, Strickland was cursed with playing in a stacked 90’s era that didn’t give him a chance to get at least one nod.
#1 Dražen Petrović
Best career year: 22.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.5 apg (1992-1993)
At number one, we have by many the greatest European NBA player of all time. The sharpshooter from Croatia had just entered his prime years when his career and life were tragically cut short due to a car accident. But in his final season with the New Jersey Nets, Dražen was dominating, shooting 44,9% from the three-point line and becoming a star. Despite all of that, Petrović got snubbed. The Nets were the first team to give Petrović a real chance in the NBA, as he showed the world what he could do. If the tragic day never happened, Dražen would have got at least one All-Star appearance. That fact allowed him to at least have the title of best NBA player to never play in the All-Star game.