A quick glance at the top of the league's standings reveals several teams that were all but left for dead before the season started. Phoenix? Seattle? Is Washington really in second place in the Southeast Division? Yes, they are. And in addition to taking everybody by surprise and lighting up the scoreboards -- all three of these teams average more than 100 points a night -- they are seeing their early-season successes being rewarded, as each squad is sending a player (or in the case of Washington, "players") to make their first All-Star Game appearances on Feb. 20 in Denver.

Seven players in all will make their All-Star Game debuts next weekend. Cleveland's LeBron James earned the honor of starting by collecting the eighth-most fan votes in All-Star balloting. The other six were selected by the 30 NBA head coaches to fill out the 12 roster spots for each conference. Below is a look at how the first-timers came to be included in the 2005 NBA All-Star Game. (All statistics are through Feb. 8.)

Gilbert Arenas • Washington Wizards
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
45
39.9
.435
.372
.811
4.3
5.2
1.80
0.16
24.7
Career
229
34.4
.424
.363
.784
4.2
5.2
1.65
0.21
18.3
In the guard-heavy East, it was Gilbert Arenas who outshone the All-Star regulars to earn his first mid-February appearance. Arenas and Co. have held steady at the top of the Eastern Conference standings and are poised to make their first postseason appearance since 1997. Arenas currently ranks eighth in the NBA in scoring at 24.7 points per game and seventh in the league in steals per game at 1.80. (The Wizards are picking off a league-leading 8.97 steals per game.) With Larry Hughes shelved due to a broken thumb, Arenas has been nothing short of amazing, scoring 30-plus points in eight of the past 11 games, including two career-high 43-point performances during the stretch.


Manu Ginobili • San Antonio Spurs
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
46
29.8
.490
.393
.807
4.4
4.0
1.76
0.39
15.9
Career
192
26.4
.444
.365
.788
3.7
3.2
1.63
0.27
11.7
Blindly toss a dart at a wall map of the world and you could find a potential Spurs All-Star. All right, that may be a bit of a stretch ... for now. But, how do you decide between Argentina's Manu Ginobili and France's Tony Parker? All Ginobili did this year was spend the summer vacationing in Athens with his countrymen, mining for gold. He's followed up his all-world Olympic performance by averaging a career-best 15.9 points per game on 49 percent shooting, helping lead San Antonio to a league-best record with his acrobatic moves on the floor.


LeBron James • Cleveland Cavaliers
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
45
41.3
.494
.344
.739
7.2
7.7
2.36
0.80
25.1
Career
124
40.2
.445
.310
.748
6.1
6.5
1.90
0.76
22.5
All indications are that James is a likely fixture in the All-Star festivities for years to come. Comparisons to NBA legends have flown freely and the King has lived up to the expectations. Currently putting up a behemoth 25.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists on a nightly basis, James is doing what only four other players have ever done: average at least 25-7-7 for a season. Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat six times, John Havlicek twice and gentlemen by the names of Larry and Michael did it once apiece. Not bad company to keep. Oh, and James' Cavaliers ... they're winning, too. To the tune of 28-19 and a stake of first place in the Central Division.


Antawn Jamison • Washington Wizards
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
47
39.3
.436
.326
.747
8.1
2.2
0.87
0.32
20.5
Career
465
35.5
.462
.319
.723
7.3
1.7
0.97
0.42
19.2
Good things come to those who ... take a seat? After hearing All-Star whispers in previous seasons, Jamison may have thought it unlikely for 2005, after serving as first-off-the-bench for the Mavericks last season. Although his minutes and scoring average went south in Dallas, dipping to its lowest since his rookie season in Golden State, Jamison wound up winning the NBA's Sixth Man Award in 2004. This season, Jamison has reunited with former Warriors running-mates Arenas and Larry Hughes, and has played a pivotal role in the Wizards' surprising first-half start. Washington currently has the league's third-best scoring average (102.4 points per game), and Jamison and Arenas are Washington's first All-Star duo since Moses Malone and Jeff Malone made the trip to Seattle in 1987.


Rashard Lewis • Seattle SuperSonics
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
44
38.5
.464
.395
.765
5.4
1.1
1.16
0.95
20.3
Career
452
32.5
.460
.384
.786
5.9
1.5
1.14
0.56
15.0
While some players may sport better stats than Lewis, it's hard to argue with his impact on a team that has taken nearly everybody by surprise in the first half of the season. As a rookie in '98-99, Lewis went through the anticipated growing pains of a preps-to-pros baller, averaging a mere 2.4 points in 20 games. But it's been all uphill from there, as his continual development has led to a career-best 20.5 PPG scoring average this season. Seattle has found much success this season pairing his size, athleticism and shooting proficiency with sharpshooters Ray Allen and Vlad Radmanovic, and all three will be making the trip to Denver next weekend (Radmanovic will take part in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout).


Amare Stoudemire • Phoenix Suns
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
50
36.5
.574
.000
.715
8.6
1.6
1.10
1.58
26.0
Career
187
34.3
.507
.136
.696
8.8
1.3
0.97
1.36
18.9
Last year's got milk? Rookie Challenge MVP is stepping up to the big boy's game during this year's All-Star Weekend. Stoudemire's inclusion by the 29 other head coaches around the league should come as no surprise, as they all are trying to devise a way to stop the 22-year old powerhouse. Stoudemire has benefitted from the wide-open style of play Steve Nash has brought to the desert, averaging 5.5 points more than last season. Perhaps most striking, Stoudemire ranks second in the NBA in field-goal percentage and is shooting the ball almost 100 percentage points better than last seaon (.475 to .574). His new mid-range jumper makes one of the toughest assignments in the league.


Dwyane Wade • Miami Heat
STATISTICS
G
MPG
FG%
3P%
FT%
RPG
APG
SPG
BPG
PPG
2004-05
46
38.7
.480
.214
.765
5.2
7.2
1.48
1.04
23.5
Career
107
36.5
.472
.284
.758
4.5
5.7
1.44
0.77
19.4
"Flash" ... "Sidekick" ... Call him what you will, but call him an All-Star, please. The second-year player who put the Heat on his back in last year's playoffs was expected to thrive with the addition of Shaquille O'Neal. In October, the Big Philosopher told the Miami Herald, "I'm going to make the game much easier for him." Easier, sure, but did anybody anticipate this kind of improvement? Wade is averaging 23.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game this year, up from 16.2, 4.0 and 4.5, respectively, from last season.