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A deep dive on Lauri Markkanen’s All-Star chances

The Finnisher is on the list, but will he make it to All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City?

New Orleans Pelicans v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

When the Utah Jazz started the season on fire, the league took note of newcomer Lauri Markannen and his tremendous improvement. He immediately staked his claim as the best player on this new-look Jazz team and hasn’t looked back since.

With Markkanen’s rise in production, fans have naturally wondered about his chances of being named an All-Star this year. His team has already begun the campaign.

Markkanen’s case

Lauri Markkanen is putting up 22.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while posting an elite 66.8% true shooting percentage. The only players to ever match or exceed those numbers are Charles Barkley (three times) and Nikola Jokic. Even if you remove the rebounding qualifier, there are only six seasons in NBA history in which a player has scored at least 22 points per game with that level of efficiency. Barkley three times, Stephen Curry twice, and Jokic once. The combination of production and efficiency that Markkanen is displaying is something the league has rarely seen.

Markkanen is also putting up career highs in FG%, 3P%, assists, and blocks. He’s taking a team that was projected to be near the bottom of the league and leading them to playoff contention.

Voting process

There are too many great players to fit on the All-Star rosters. That means some deserving players will miss out. There are 12 roster spots for each All-Star team, plus injury replacements if applicable.

The fan vote accounts for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters. Current players and media members split the other 50 percent. Each ballot consists of two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference. Reserves are chosen by NBA head coaches, and league commissioner Adam Silver chooses injury replacements if necessary.

All-Star captains will then draft their teams from the eligible players. The highest vote-getter from each conference will be the captains. They are not required to draft based on conference or position.

The competition

Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Based on the NBA’s All-Star voting rules, Markkanen’s competition will be frontcourt players in the Western Conference. That list includes; Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, Domantas Sabonis, Rudy Gobert, and more.

Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, and Zion Williamson will likely be the starters in the frontcourt. Their excellent play combined with their popularity in the fan vote will make it a near certainty that Markkanen doesn’t even sniff a starting spot. His real competition will be the reserves.

Due to injuries to Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and others, I believe the most likely players to be selected by the coaches are Markkanen, Sabonis, Gobert, Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Andrew Wiggins. Markkanen needs to be in the top three of that list to guarantee a spot.

My All-Star picks

If I were in charge of deciding the All-Stars, this is who I’d pick as of 12/22/2022:

Western Conference:

  • Luka Doncic (S)
  • Stephen Curry (S)
  • Nikola Jokic (S)
  • Zion Williamson (S)
  • Domantas Sabonis (S)*
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • Damian Lillard
  • LeBron James
  • Lauri Markkanen
  • Paul George
  • Devin Booker
  • Ja Morant

*Assuming Anthony Davis does miss the coming month due to injury, as reported.

Eastern Conference:

  • Donovan Mitchell (S)
  • Jaylen Brown (S)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (S)
  • Joel Embiid (S)
  • Jayson Tatum (S)
  • Trae Young
  • Tyrese Haliburton
  • Pascal Siakam
  • Kevin Durant
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Darius Garland
  • Jalen Brunson

Things will change in the coming months before the All-Star game, and my choices may change in that time too. I expect Rudy Gobert to force his way into the conversation. Injuries may pull some of these players out of the lineups, and others who have dealt with injuries may come back and push their way in. For now, though, these are my picks.

I think it will be a close call. If there’s another injury to a frontcourt star, maybe he will slide in easily, but as of now, he’s right on the edge. It could go either way.


Will Lauri Markkanen be named an All-Star?

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