Summer Forecast: Most likely first-time All-Stars in 2017-18

Embiid expects more next season (1:53)

Joel Embiid spoke with Chiney Ogwumike at the NBA Africa game about the FEDS nickname and where he thinks the 76ers can improve. (1:53)

Will this be the year Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis reach All-Star status? Are Rudy Gobert and Bradley Beal ready to make their first All-Star appearances?

We asked our ESPN Forecast panel to predict the players who are most likely to make their first All-Star team in February 2018. Voters were allowed to select up to five names for both the East and West.

Here are the players who received the most votes:

Forecast: Most likely first-time All-Stars

1. Karl-Anthony Towns
Minnesota Timberwolves
Center | West
Total votes: 108

Comments: Towns averaged over 25 points and 12 rebounds per game last season, becoming just the second player ever to put up those numbers and not make the All-Star team. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the first to do so in 1977-78 -- the only season of his career he didn't make the All-Star team).

Though competition for an All-Star spot out West will be stiff, Towns is a good bet to get the nod if Minnesota shows the significant improvement many expect. But one reason to be leery is defense; Towns ranked dead last in the NBA among centers in defensive real plus-minus last season. -- Micah Adams, ESPN Stats & Info

2. Kristaps Porzingis
New York Knicks
Power forward | East
Total votes: 104

Comments: Given the dearth of talent in the Eastern Conference, it seems the only things that could reasonably keep Porzingis out of the All-Star Game are an injury or the Knicks being so bad that they simply don't warrant a selection.

Frontcourt competition Jimmy Butler and Paul George are now in the Western Conference, and if the Knicks trade Carmelo Anthony, Porzingis will be the clear-cut No. 1 option in New York. In the nearly 600 minutes he played without Anthony and Derrick Rose last season, Porzingis averaged 21.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per 36 minutes with a usage percentage of 26.5. That's All-Star-caliber production. -- Adams

T-3. Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers
Center | East
Total votes: 96

Comments: If he stays healthy, it's hard to see Embiid getting snubbed in the East if he performs anywhere close to how he did in 2016-17. Embiid averaged 28.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes and finished with the second-highest per-minute scoring rate by a rookie in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain.

Embiid already might be the league's best rim protector, as opponents shot just 41 percent against him at the rim, which was tops in the NBA. -- Adams

T-3. Rudy Gobert
Utah Jazz
Center | West
Total votes: 96

Comments: An All-NBA center and runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year last season, Gobert is a strong candidate as the anchor of one of the league's stingiest defenses. That said, a boost on the offensive end would certainly help. Though the knee-jerk reaction might be to suggest Gobert will see an offensive spike since Gordon Hayward is now in Boston, Gobert actually scored less often with Hayward off the floor last season. The bigger factor could be point guard Ricky Rubio, a master facilitator who should create more scoring opportunities for Gobert. -- Adams

T-3. Nikola Jokic
Denver Nuggets
Center | West
Total votes: 96

Comments: Only two players last season had a better player efficiency rating from Christmas onward than Jokic. One of them won the MVP (Russell Westbrook) and the other was the only player to make first-team All-NBA and first-team All-Defense (Kawhi Leonard). Over that span, Jokic averaged 19.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 58 percent from the field.

If he picks up where he left off and the Nuggets take a step forward after the addition of Paul Millsap, Jokic should warrant serious All-Star consideration. -- Adams

6. Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards
Shooting guard | East
Total votes: 84

Comments: Beal just turned 24 and is coming off easily his best season after averaging more than 23 points per game while shooting 40 percent on 3s, a feat matched by only Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving in 2016-17. Beal set a career high in PER, and his 8.5 win shares were more than double his total in any previous season.

With the vacuum created by player migration out West, Beal has a realistic shot at earning an All-Star nod. -- Adams

7. Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat
Center | East
Total votes: 72

Comments: 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 he does that again and lifts the Heat into contention in the Eastern Conference, Whiteside could find his way to All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles. -- Adams