The 2016-17 NBA regular season comes to a close Wednesday, and what a year it's been.
Over the coming days, there will be plenty of time to reflect on the Golden State Warriors' superteam, the Cleveland Cavaliers' super-drama, the Los Angeles Lakers' franchise reboot, and everything in between.
For now, though, we're looking ahead to next season by projecting the 2017-18 NBA All-Star rosters. There are a number of familiar names, as you'd expect, but there are also a number of young players knocking on the door.
And above all else, there's one veteran who deserves to go out with a bang next season.
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The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Eastern Conference starters
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James are no-brainers, of course, and Isaiah Thomas should grab the other backcourt spot after two straight impressive seasons for the Celtics.
Giannis Antetokounmpo's legend continues to grow with every passing game; he'll be an All-Star starter for the foreseeable future, barring a catastrophic injury.
Which brings us to Mr. Joel Embiid. We're going to keep the faith that he'll recover from his latest injury to come back at 100 percent next season. And if he's healthy, then Embiid's huge personality and on-court dominance should lift him to a starting All-Star spot in the Eastern Conference.
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The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Eastern Conference reserves
GUARD: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
GUARD: John Wall, Washington Wizards
FRONTCOURT: Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
FRONTCOURT: Paul George, Indiana Pacers
FRONTCOURT: Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
WILD CARD: Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
WILD CARD: Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat
Either Kyle Lowry or John Wall is a solid contender for the second starting backcourt spot in the East if Thomas doesn't claim it, so they're in as reserves. Paul George and Jimmy Butler are two of the best two-way players in the NBA; they're not going anywhere any time soon when it comes to the All-Star roster.
After a down year thanks to injury, Kevin Love should be back at full All-Star-strength next season. That leaves our two young newcomers: Kristaps Porzingis and Hassan Whiteside.
The case for the former is easy: Porzingis is a star in the making in the biggest city in North America. Whiteside, meanwhile, helped turn around the Heat midseason in 2016-17 — an achievement for which he'll be recognized with an All-Star nod next season, if he can keep it up.
The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Eastern Conference snubs
CarmeloAnthony, New York Knicks: Melo might not even be in the Eastern Conference next year, for all we know.
PaulMillsap, Atlanta Hawks:Millsap is a fine power forward. When everyone's healthy and at the top of their game, though, he's not an All-Star.
DeMarDeRozan, Toronto Raptors:DeRozan is due for a bit of regression next season. Combined with the emergence of the young bigs in the East, he could very well miss out on next year's All-Star Game.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets:Walker is one of the best point guards in the NBA, but he consistently gets overshadowed by bigger names in the Eastern Conference.
DwyaneWade, Chicago Bulls: Wade didn't make this year's All-Star team, so "snub" might be a strong word for the man formerly known as Flash.
The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Western Conference starters
GUARD: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
GUARD: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
FRONTCOURT: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
FRONTCOURT: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
FRONTCOURT: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Stephen Curry can count on the fans to vote him in as an All-Star starter for the next decade or so. Russell Westbrook was a reserve this season, but we're guessing his triple-double average this year will change that in 2017-18.
Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant are easy All-Star starter picks, of course. As for the Big German? Last season will almost certainly be Dirk Nowitzki's final NBA campaign, and we're counting on the voters to give Dirk one final All-Star sendoff — as a starter.
The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Western Conference reserves
James Harden,Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are names you can carve into stone on the 2017-18 NBA All-Star ballot. The only question is whether any can sneak into a starter's spot.
Anthony Davis would be in that "carve it in stone" category if it weren't for his injury history. As long as he's healthy, though, he'll be in Los Angeles for next season's festivities.
Karl-Anthony Towns is on the cusp of making the NBA into his own personal plaything. With another offseason of development and a bit more comfort in Tom Thibodeau's system, he'll make his first All-Star team next season.
And Denver's Nikola Jokic is the second coming of a young Arvydas Sabonis. He'll help the Nuggets back to the playoffs next season — and he'll earn an All-Star bid for his efforts.
The 2017-18 NBA All-Star Western Conference snubs
DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans:Unless the Pelicans turn things around next year — you know, assuming Boogie stays in New Orleans — Cousins is going to take the blame for not making this squad into a powerhouse. His star is bound to fade relative to Anthony Davis' in the Big Easy.
MarcGasol, Memphis Grizzlies:We love Gasol, but as the Western Conference stockpiles more and more talent, he's going to take a step back in the All-Star pecking order.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers:There's a very good chance the Clippers as we know them cease to exist this offseason, as both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can enter free agency. If that's the case, next year should be a transition period for Jordan and the Clips.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers:The shine seems to have come off of Griffin as an All-Star as he's expanded his game. Who knew that becoming more than a guy who just dunks the ball would hurt his profile?
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers:There's just too much competition for the Western Conference backcourt spots and the wild card reserve selections. We'd love to see Paul make the team next year, but we're not counting on it.
GordonHayward, Utah Jazz: Until the Jazz become title contenders — and believe us, that day is coming sooner than you think — Hayward and Gobert will have to settle for trading All-Star appearances back and forth. Once they earn that higher profile, though, expect both Utah stars to get their just rewards.