The Utah Jazz have a 7-4 record this season so far, which is pretty good. They are leading their division and are in the hunt for not just a playoff spot -- but also homecourt in the first round. If that were to happen then this would really usher in a new era in Franchise history. The one player who seems to be the one who determines that outcome is none other than Gordon Hayward. Hayward is in his 7th year in the NBA, and is going into yet another season as the first option for the Jazz. He has bulked up the last two off-seasons to help shoulder the load, and had delivered so far.
Missing the first six games of the season he has come on very strong since. Utah is 4-1 with him back in the line-up, and he’s averaging 24 / 8 / 4 / 1 (rounding up), and drilling two shots from deep per game. Moreover, he’s getting to the line almost 7 times a night. He is, dare I say it, playing like a star.
I do believe that he SHOULD be an All-Star (coaches selection) this year for the West provided that the Jazz keep winning and he keeps playing like this. But I had to dig deeper. I looked at the last decade of Western Conference All-Stars (including not just starters, but injured players, and injury replacements). This is a sample size of ten All-Star teams, and 132 ‘players’. That averages out to 13.2 guys per team, which means that on average there’s one injury replacement player. Of this 132 group: 35 are point guards, 35 are wing players, and 62 were bigmen.
Today’s game is changing, so I expect the West to be represented by at least four point guards (Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard). I also see at least four wing players making the team as well (Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, and Klay Thompson). That’s 8 of 12 spots already. Does Gordon make it to add a 5th wing player? Or will the West elect to use at least four spots on bigmen? Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Draymond Green all seem like likely candidates. And all together that’s already 13 players. With Hayward missing out.
I hope he makes the team, not just because the last time the Jazz had an All-Star was back in 2011 (Deron Williams). I hope he makes it because by the numbers he deserves it. Looking at all 35 wing players (Brandon Roy 2008 2009 2010, Carmelo Anthony 2007 2008 2010 2011, James Harden 2013 2014 2015 2016, Josh Howard 2007, Kawhi Leonard 2016, Kevin Durant 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016, Klay Thompson 2015 2016, Kobe Bryant 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016, Manu Ginobili 2011, Ray Allen 2007, and Tracy McGrady 2007) we can add up all of their stats for their pre-All-Star break splits.
The end results are as follows: Played in 45.8 games, averaged 25.43 ppg (.4634 .3606 .8470), 5.81 rpg, 4.50 apg (1.48 to 1.00 A:TO), 1.33 spg, 0.57 bpg, and basically being a load for the other team to handle in their 36.27 mpg. (PRASB of 37.64 — which is the sum of their ppg, rpg, apg, spg, and bpg)
What has Gordon done so far this season? He has played in only 5 games (so hello small sample size), but is averaging 24.40 ppg (.4556 .2667 .9697) in 35.20 mpg. He’s also brought 7.60 rpg, 4.20 apg (1.75 to 1.00 A:TO), 0.60 spg, and 0.20 bpg to the table. All together he is doing a lot for the Jazz so far, but we’d want to see a little more from deep and at least in steals. (PRASB of 37.00)
He’s very All-Star-ish. Here’s the data:
Thanks to Kobe for shooting poorly and keeping the averages down outside of points. And yes, I have the data summed and calculated out for the point guards and big men, and I will keep tabs on it with respect to George Hill, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert as the season progresses. This table also shows Rodney Hood’s stats as a point of comparison.
It’s crowded in the west, but thankfully Kobe is no longer in the NBA, and the “Fan Voting” should allow for a little more flexibility in who is left for head coaches to select. A starting line-up of Curry, Westbrook, Leonard, Durant, and dealer’s choice will be fine — leaving room for two point guards and maybe three wing players with little difficulty. I’d love to see Hayward make it. But again, he needs to keep it up, and keep leading this team to wins.
I believe in the Jazz. And I think it can happen this year.