When Utah Jazz The season started on fire, the league took note of newcomer Lauri Markkanen and his massive improvement. He immediately staked his claim as the best player on this new Jazz team and hasn’t looked back since.
With Markkanen’s output soaring, fans have naturally wondered about his chances of being named an All-Star this year. His team has already started the campaign.
Lauri Markkanen puts up 22.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while recording a true elite shooting percentage of 66.8%. The only players to match or exceed these numbers are Charles Barkley (three times) and Nikola Jokic. Even if you remove the rebounding playoffs, there are only six seasons in NBA history in which a player scored at least 22 points per game at this level of efficiency. Barkley three times, Stephen Curry twice and Jokic once. The combination of production and efficiency that Markkanen displays is something the league has rarely seen.
Markkanen also sets career highs in FG%, 3P%, assists, and blocking. He takes a team that was expected to be near the bottom of the league and leads them to the playoffs.
There are just too many great players to include on all-star lists. This means that some deserving players will lose. There are 12 roster spots for each All-Star team, plus injury replacements if applicable.
Fan voting accounts for 50 percent of the vote to determine the start. Existing players and members of the media split the remaining 50 percent. Each ballot consists of two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference. Reserve coaches are selected by the NBA coaches, and injury replacements are selected by league commissioner Adam Silver if necessary.
The All-Star Captains will then draft their teams from the eligible players. The captains with the highest votes will be from each conference. They are not required to draft on the basis of conference or position.
Based on the NBA’s All-Star voting rules, Markkanen’s competition would be two frontcourt players in the Western Conference. That list includes; Nikola Jokic, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, Domantas Sabonis, Rudy Goubert and more.
Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Zion Williamson are probably the frontcourt starters. Their excellent play combined with their popularity in the fan vote will almost certainly make Markkanen not smell the starting point. The real competition for him will be the reserves.
Due to injuries to Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and others, I think the players most likely to be selected by the coaches are Markkanen, Sabonis, Joubert, Paul George, Jerami Grant, and Andrew Wiggins. Markkanen needs to be in the top three on that list to guarantee a place.
My all-star picks
If I were responsible for selecting an All-Star, this is who I would pick as of 12/22/2022:
- Luka Doncic (junior)
- Stephen Curry (junior)
- Nikola Jokic (junior)
- Zion Williamson (junior)
- Domantas Sabonis (S) *
- Gilgos Alexander Tea
- Damien Lillard
- LeBron James
- Laurie Markkanen
- Paul George
- Devin Booker
- I’m Morant
*Assuming Anthony Davis misses the next month due to injury, as reported.
- Donovan Mitchell (junior)
- Jaylen Brown (junior)
- Giannis Antitekounmo (junior)
- Joel Embiid (junior)
- Jason Tatum (junior)
- Tra Young
- Therese Halliburton
- Pascal I’m sorry
- Kevin Durant
- Jimmy Butler
- Darius Garland
- Galen Bronson
Things will change in the coming months before the All-Star Game, and my choices may change around that time, too. I expect Rudi Goubert to make his way into the conversation. Injuries may cause some of these players to be pulled from lineups, and others who have sustained injuries may return to make their way. But for now, these are my choices.
I think it will be a close call. If there were another hit to a star in the front yard, he might have slipped easily, but as of right now, he’s on edge. You could go either way.