It’s that time of the year again, when Jazz fans start going to battle for the rightful recognition of their star players. Just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, fans are pining for their players to make the All-Star team to show the world that they belong with the NBA’s best. Last season, Jazz fans were blessed with two All-Star selections, the first time in 13 years that Utah had two All-Stars. What’s better than getting two All-Stars? Well, WHAT ABOUT THREE? It sounds crazy, right? In reality, it’s not though.
The first return of fan votes were released today, and it’s always a wild ride.
Nets‘ Kevin Durant and Lakers‘ LeBron James lead the NBA’s first All-Star fan voting returns. Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Wizards’ Bradley Beal join Durant and James as leaders at positions. pic.twitter.com/ukvOeyx49H— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 4, 2021
Donovan Mitchell made a nice showing with almost a quarter million votes, which was fourth among Western Conference guards. This is actually a pretty big deal, considering Utah’s market in relation to the rest of the teams’. Shoutout Klay Thompson who hasn’t played a game this season and still as almost 100,000 votes lol. Sadly, Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley are nowhere in the top 10 among their positions in the Western Conference, but that’s ok, there is still hope. The fans only count for a portion of the votes for All-Star starters only. They combine with the media and player votes for a composite ranking that determines the 5 All-Star starters per conference. The remaining 7 All-Star reserves (3 frontcourt, 2 backcourt, 2 wildcard) are determined by the coaches. Donovan and Rudy were both named All-Star reserves by the coaches last season, which is a good sign for their odds this year as well. If the Jazz are going to get three All-Stars, it’s all going to depend on the coaches.
Do the Jazz actually have a shot at getting three All-Stars this season? Looking at each player’s individual performance and the overall success of the Jazz this season, there is definitely a chance. Donovan Mitchell has put up really similar numbers to his All-Star season last year, including shooting a career-high 40% from three so far this year. He’s the focal point of the Jazz offense, which is one of the best in the league. His scoring has taken a little bit of a dip this year, but it’s mostly because his other teammates have stepped up in big ways. Between Donovan, Rudy, and Mike, I think Donovan has the best chance at being an All-Star this season, and I think his odds are pretty good at making it.
Rudy Gobert has just been Rudy Gobert, which is an absolute beast. He is making a run at a third DPOY award, still dominating the NBA in nearly every advanced defensive metric. Gobert is a walking double-double, and is averaging a career-high 2.7 blocks per game. He leads the Western Conference in total rebounds and blocks, and is averaging 13 points per game on an efficient 60% shooting percentage. Gobert’s odds at making another All-Star game are not as good as Donovan’s in my opinion, but still good.
Last but not least, the legend Mike Conley. Conley has been soooo good for the Jazz this season, and honestly one of the main reasons they have the best record in the NBA. Conley leads the league in total plus-minus at +232. He ranks third in 538’s ‘RAPTOR’ rating which measures a players impact on both sides of the ball. Conley has the leagues second highest ‘WAR’ ranking in 538’s system. If you look at the rest of the players in the top 10-15 of that ranking, they are all perennial All-Stars. Conley is having a great season, and is a main piece on the best team in the NBA. He’s never made an All-Star game before, so this would be huge.
Here’s what the Jazz competition is for All-Star selections, assuming the starters are as follows:
Starters: Curry, Doncic, LeBron, Kawhi, Jokic (Pretty much locks, except maybe Dame for Steph)
Backcourt Reserve Pool (Pick 2): Dame Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Devin Booker, Mike Conley, Brandon Ingam, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Victor Oladipo, DeAron Fox, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan
Frontcourt Reserve Pool (Pick 3): Anthony Davis, Paul George, Rudy Gobert, Zion Williamson, Karl Anthony Towns, Christian Wood
Now go back and pick two additional ‘wildcard’ players from either of the position pools.
If there’s a way the Jazz get three All-Stars, it might look like this:
Backcourt (2 + 2 wildcard): Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker (wildcard), Mike Conley (wildcard)
Frontcourt (3): Anthony Davis, Paul George, Rudy Gobert
There’s definitely a way that it could happen. What needs to happen in order for this to come to pass? The Jazz need to stay near the top of the NBA, and keep winning big. Rudy, Don, and Mike need to stay healthy, and keep doing what they’ve been doing. All-Star spots in the West aren’t near as hard to get as they used to with guys like KD, Harden, Russ etc moving to Eastern Conference teams. It’s not too farfetched to think that the Jazz could actually get three All-Stars. Before last season, the Jazz had gone years without a single All-Star, could you image getting three this year? Pretty crazy stuff, but the Jazz have played well enough this season to deserve it. Come on NBA coaches, do your part!