Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert are both playing at an All Star level for the Utah Jazz. But in a stacked Western Conference, what are their chances to actually make the team?
Loyal fans of the Utah Jazz are acutely aware that the last All Star coming from Salt Lake was Deron Williams in 2011. For the last several seasons the Jazz have had a couple borderline cases for All Star candidates.
Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors have both played well enough for consideration in previous seasons but not well enough to actually get the call. Utah fans have settled for watching the rookie/sophomore game and had a couple fun years at the dunk contest.
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Jazz fans have heard all the reasons why, but mainly Utah doesn’t have any stars and they don’t win enough. We’ve seen examples of stars who don’t win a lot get nominated due to fan votes, as well as teams who win a ton get more than their fair share.
This season is different. Hayward has continued to improve his game and, most importantly, delivered on a consistent basis driving the Jazz to their best record through half a season since 2010. The most recent NBA Player of the Week has made his case. He’s a jack of all trades and impacts every aspect of the game.
Rudy Gobert is the bigger surprise. After validating the Enes Kanter trade and leading the Jazz to the best defense in the league two years ago, he has battled injuries and not dominated as much as he had been expected to.
But after signing his extension this off season, Gobert has delivered. He is a league leader in effective field goal percentage, blocks, rebounds and opponents field goal percentage around the rim just to name a few. He is a front runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award and has one of the best nicknames in the game right now.
The issue isn’t the accolades of the two stars, it’s how many seats are left open at the table. Last month I wrote a similar update, detailing the open positions on the team. A few things have changed, but ultimately there are still only 12 spots on the team, and 8 of those are still locked up by Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
These guys will mostly likely be the players fighting it out for the remaining 4 spots:
Real Plus Minus
Unfortunately there is no end all be all statistic that tells the whole story. I’ve sorted these stats by PER but it has its faults and shortcomings just as much as any other stat. Coaches know this better than anyone and will not be making their selections based on PER, Win Shares, or Real Plus Minus alone.
They also heavily weigh in winning, so as difficult as it is for anyone to average 20/10, Towns might be left out due to the team’s struggles. This also makes it difficult for Lillard and McCollum to make the team.
The most impactful players on that list that are currently on winning teams are Hayward, Gobert, Aldridge, Green, Thompson, Gasol and Conley. With the success of the Warriors, it would almost be safe to assume Green becomes the third All Star for Golden State.
His impact, especially defensively, is the most difficult to translate into stats. He is an elite defender and passer, the ultimate glue guy. They also don’t count groin kicks on the stat sheet but if they did he would easily lead the league.
The Spurs are just as impressive as always and could easily get Aldridge in as the second San Antonio All Star as his numbers are only slightly below those from last year when he was selected to the team. The entire league admires what the Spurs are able to do every single year so it seems that is the logical decision for the coaches.
So the remaining two spots come down to what do the coaches respect the most, winning or production? If it’s offensive production, Lillard and Towns are going to New Orleans. Defensive production? Gobert and Gasol are the picks. If it’s impact on winning? Hayward and Gobert should get the nod.
Time will tell but its an uphill battle for the Jazz Faithful.