The NBA is a league of star players and no matter how much the Jazz want this to be a 1-5 group effort they will probably need one or two of their players to break out and become all-star caliber players. A few months ago I wrote an article about how if the Jazz don’t have an all-star in this upcoming all-star game then it would be the longest stretch in Jazz history the Jazz did not have a player represent them in the all-star game. Now that we have much more information about who will be on the roster and who will be starting lets take a look and see if we have a chance to get a player to New Orleans in February.
Here is last season’s Western Conference all-star team roster.
|35||* Kevin Durant (Thunder)||F||6-9||235||09/29/88||Texas/USA|
|32||* Blake Griffin (Clippers)||F||6-10||251||03/16/89||Oklahoma/USA|
|12||* Dwight Howard (Lakers)||C||6-11||265||12/08/85||SW Atlanta Christian Academy (GA)/USA|
|24||* Kobe Bryant (Lakers)||G||6-6||205||08/23/78||Lower Merion HS (PA)/USA|
|3||* Chris Paul (Clippers)||G||6-0||175||05/06/85||Wake Forest/USA|
|12||LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers)||F||6-11||240||07/19/85||Texas/USA|
|21||Tim Duncan (Spurs)||F||6-11||255||04/25/76||Wake Forest/U.S. Virgin Islands|
|13||# James Harden (Rockets)||G||6-5||220||08/26/89||Arizona State/USA|
|10||David Lee (Warriors)||F-C||6-9||240||04/29/83||Florida/USA|
|9||Tony Parker (Spurs)||G||6-2||185||05/17/82||Paris BR/France|
|50||Zach Randolph (Grizzlies)||F||6-9||260||07/16/81||Michigan State/USA|
|0||Russell Westbrook (Thunder)||G||6-3||187||11/12/88||UCLA/USA|
|Head Coach: Gregg Popovich (Spurs)|
Table provided via http://www.nba.com/allstar/2013/players/
Who has a shot?
Even though I personally am excited to see all 5 of our young players take on bigger roles this season and think they all have the potential to make the all-star team, I’m going to say 3 out of the 5 really are the ones who have a shot to be an all-star. Alec Burks and Trey Burke are the two players I’m leaving out. Do we honestly believe Trey is going to be able to make the all-star game as a rookie with Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook being last years all-star guards and players like Stephen Curry and Damion Lillard not making the team? My guess is he won’t be able to do that as a rookie. The 3 I think have a legitimate shot are Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter as they will all be taking on starter rolls and 30+ minutes per game.
Gordon is probably the best all around player on the Jazz roster. Offensively he’s going to be the go to guy and on defense he has proven that he can hold his own. He’s the only player in the NBA that I’ve watched consistently that can run a guy down on fast break and block a shot that isn’t named LeBron James. These lead to highlight plays which will hopefully help him stand out and win over some of the fans around the league who don’t even know that Gordon kept playing basketball after the National Championship game a few years back.
With all that being said I highly doubt Gordon will make the all-star game this up coming season. Look again at the guards and forwards that made the all-star game last season.
These guys are the only players that play Hayward’s position and the other guards on the roster were all point guards. To me this will be very very difficult for Hayward to overcome. He plays a position that you have to be absolutely dominate at and put up huge numbers to be considered an all-star. I’m not saying that Hayward can’t do it or won’t do it someday but to me Hayward won’t be able to do it in one season starting for the Jazz.
Hayward chances: 15%
Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter
I put these two players together because I would end up arguing the same points for both. These guys to me are both double double machines and I predict to average a double double this upcoming season. With starter minutes Favors has shown he will get the 10 rebounds with ease and after working with Karl Malone all summer he should average somewhere around 15 points per game. Favors also is dying to prove that he can handle being a starter in the NBA and the Jazz have pretty much handed this team to Hayward and Favors. Throw in the fact that he is most likely a top 5 defensive big man in the NBA and I think he could very well make it to the all-star game.
I 100% believe that Kanter is going to have a HUGE season. Enes has shown us shown low post moves and a touch for a mid range jumper. Putting all that together with 30+ minutes a night and knowing the Jazz like to run their offense through the low post expect Kanter to score 20+ points per game this upcoming season. The rebounds won’t be a problem for Kanter either. With all the muscle Kanter has put on and the size he already has, Kanter moves people around in the paint like he’s playing teenagers. He knows how to use his body well and get in position to clean up the boards. We saw him break out during the pre-season last year and I expect the same thing from him in the regular season this year.
These two guys also look to have a better shot of nabbing a all-star spot if they put up those kind of numbers. Zach Randolph averaged 15.4 PPG and 11.2 RBS, David Lee averaged 18.5 PPG and 11.2 RBS and Tim Duncan averaged 17.8 PPG and 9.9 RBS. Both Favors and Kanter will have these types of numbers this upcoming season and if the Jazz overachieve then there will be some serious talk about these two making the team. I don’t see any of these players getting voted in by the fans but I can see one of them being a coaches selection and being a reserve.
Favors chances: 35%
Kanter chances: 40%
Will we have an all-star?
The Jazz are going to be a fun team to watch and I think they will get more national media than usual because Trey Burke is on the roster. Personally I see Kanter putting up the numbers and wowing people to snag one of the all-star selections. He’s young and needs to play well on the defensive end but he can hold his own against just about any center in the league due to his size and muscle. If he can knock down that mid-range jumper consistently then he will be a very hard player for opposing centers to guard. The numbers will be there but the real thing that will help get him to the all-star game is the Jazz overachieving what they are expected to do. The Jazz need to win games with this young group to get one of these guys to the all-star game in February. Let’s cross our fingers and hope one of them gets there.