Staff Scrimmage: All-Star Reserve Reactions

January 26th, 2017 | by Salt City Hoops
David Sherman via Utahjazz.com

David Sherman via Utahjazz.com

For the first time since 2011, the Utah Jazz have an All-Star.

Gordon Hayward will be in New Orleans next month when the league’s biggest stars get together for the All-Star game. He was selected by the Western Conference coaches, who vote to fill in the rosters after fans, players and the media decided each conference’s five starters.

Rudy Gobert was widely discussed as a candidate for another of the reserve spots, but did not make the team, as big men DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol snagged spots ahead of him.

The Salt City Hoops gang got together to discuss the announcements

Were you surprised at Hayward’s selection or Gobert’s omission?

Clark Schmutz: Not very surprised. I think it was the most likely outcome as the season progressed. Although I think that Gobert deserved to be on the All-Star team, I understand why the coaches voted the way they did.

Laura Thompson: Unfortunately, no. Coaches seem to consider the full body of work (read: previous seasons) instead of looking only at the first half of this season. They’ve seen Gobert at this level for less time than they’ve seen others at a high level over the last couple of seasons. The halo effect from the Warriors’ dominance likely had an impact, as four of them were selected, squeezing Rudy out. I did expect Hayward to make it this season.

David Smith: Most media members not only had Gobert on their All-Star lists, many had him in one of the frontcourt slot and not even a wildcard selection. Gobert is first in the NBA in blocks per game, true shooting and defensive win shares, and second in FG%, effective FG% and block percentage. And he is fifth in Win Shares and rebounds per game. He has been the constant for Quin Snyder in a sea of never-ending injuries. So, yes, it was a bit surprising that he did not get the nod.

Dan Clayton: Disappointed, sure. Not really surprised. It’s been my position all along that Hayward would make it in and Gobert would either just make it or just miss it. Gobert definitely deserved it, but the West’s frontcourt is a crowded place, and Jordan getting the spot that rightfully deserved to Chris Paul was the nail in the coffin.

Hayward made his first All-Star game while guys like Damian Lillard, Mike Conley, CJ McCollum, Karl-Anthony Towns and of course Gobert did not. Objectively, do any of them have a legitimate argument?

Clark: I suppose you could make an argument for any of those guys, although Portland’s record hurt the Blazer guards, and really Lillard had a much better season last year. He was a bigger snub last season than this one. Towns is a great prospect, but not a great player yet. Conley probably has the best argument. It’s hard to argue that any of those guys deserved it over Hayward, but voting and beauty are in the eye of the beholder: in this case, 15 coaches.

Laura: No. Hayward’s been phenomenal this year. He averages 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists on a slow-paced team (those stats translate to 32.9 PTS, 5.2 AST, 8.6 RBS per 100 possessions). He is shooting 40% from three, 87% from the line, with an offensive rating of 118 and a defensive rating of 105. Few players are doing for their teams what Hayward is doing for the Jazz, and those who do are superstars and All-Stars. He’s been incredibly efficient and makes his teammates better. For a team that has been ravaged by injuries and still might snatch the fourth seed in a tough conference, it’s incredible, and it’s thanks to Hayward.

David: All of them are great players. Towns, Lillard and McCollum are all putting up big numbers, but their teams have struggled, falling short of many preseason prognostications. Conley has a gripe, but he also missed a slew of games. Of all those players, Gobert has the biggest argument.

Dan: All of those players have legitimate All-Star cases, but none of them have a valid beef with Hayward. There are just a lot of All-Star caliber players and only 12 spots. Conley’s omission is the closest to a real snub in my mind (I thought he’d wind up in CP3’s spot), and yet the Grizzly guard doesn’t really have a statistical argument over Hayward.

Conversely, is there a Western reserve you objectively think should have been left off for Gobert’s sake?

Clark: The easy answer is Jordan. He just hasn’t been that dominant and his team has underwhelmed a bit and looks completely average when he is the best healthy player on the team. With that being said, I don’t think it’s obvious that Rudy deserved it over him.

Laura: Some might see Rudy as more deserving than Cousins and Jordan—and we/they might be right, given the Jazz’s record and Rudy’s impressive advanced stats. So while I would have left off Cousins due to his team’s poor record and his inability to elevate his team, I understand why his talent and gaudy stats landed him a spot. Were the coaches going to keep the Clippers without an All-Star at the game once CP3 went down? Aside from that line of logic, I think you can make a case for Gobert over Jordan.

David: The names that stick out are Klay Thompson and Jordan. Both are deserving, but Gobert seems to have the stronger case. Part of me wonders if Gobert would have gotten the selection over Jordan had the coaches selected Chris Paul despite his injury. That way the Clippers would have been represented.

Dan: Cousins is a singular talent who is a nightmare to game plan for because he can kill teams in so many ways. The issue: he can also kill his team when he pouts, mentally checks out or tries to make a point. I already went on the record in our last podcast, saying that I’d pick Gobert over a volatile Boogie, but I get why coaches respect him. And while I have a penchant for Gobert over Jordan, it’s not like their credentials are all that dissimilar. Basically, Gobert is just a victim of the same thing plaguing the snubbees from the last question: the Western Conference is really dang good.

Does/should/will Hayward’s validation as an All-Star change the likelihood of him remaining with the Utah Jazz?

Clark: It shouldn’t really have an impact and I don’t think it will by the time July rolls around. Just like any employee looking for the best available job for him and his family, Gordon needs to do what’s right for the Haywards. At the end of the day, I don’t think this All-Star selection will really be a factor at all. He will go where he wants to be.

Laura: I’d love to think it does, but it doesn’t seem as though Hayward craves recognition or validation nearly as much as he craves winning. If he wanted more recognition, he’d play more selfishly and jack up 10 more shots each game outside of the system. Jazz radio voice David Locke shared on a recent podcast a story where Hayward recommended teammate Alec Burks, instead of himself, for a play they were drawing up. That shows he’s all about the team and winning. Now, if the Jazz finish in the top half of the conference with a continued upward trajectory and you add the All-Star sweetener? Golden.

David: It absolutely strengthens the Jazz’s bid to re-sign Hayward. He knows he is the face of the franchise and the team has gone to great lengths to surround him and Gobert with talent. He knows that, as do his family and his representatives. Proving he can be an All-Star in Utah only enhances what I thought were already strong chances of him re-upping with the Jazz.

Dan: It’s not so much that I think being an All-Star makes him more likely to stay; it’s that not making it would probably hurt the chances. If he got left out while having this kind of a season, he could understandably resign himself to thinking that he’d never crack it in the tough West. So mostly it kills what might have been a point for mild concern and will allow him to focus on the factors that should really matter most.

What are Gobert’s chances of making it as an injury fill-in if one of the West’s 12 can’t play?

Clark: Either Gasol or Jordan would have to be injured or decide not to play for Gobert to inch his way in.

Laura: It depends on whether a guard or frontcourt player goes down. If a guard bows out because of an injury, I see Lillard getting the nod. Given that the NBA determines replacement players and not coaches, I can see them liking the Lillard storyline after his omission from the big game last year, especially after his clutch shot against the Rockets in the playoffs the year before. But if a big goes down, I think Gobert will get the nod. Selfishly, though, I wouldn’t hate it if he doesn’t because he’s going to destroy the league if he’s snubbed from the All-Star Team. And that’s something I REALLY want to see.

David: It may depend on the positions of the injured player. If it is a guard, Conley or Lillard might get the nod. If it is a big man, Gobert would appear to be the slam dunk choice.

Dan: The problem is that there really isn’t an obvious injury spot since the coaches went ahead and gave away Paul’s spot already. Anthony Davis is going to be extremely motivated to get right in time for All-Star since he gets to play host to the NBA world down in New Orleans. Everybody else is hale and healthy — which is great news! — and even if something unfortunate happened, it’s not like the spot is definitely Gobert’s. The commissioner would also consider someone like Conley or Lillard if someone had to be excused.

Lightning round: With All-Star selections out of the way, which Jazz player is most likely to finish with a season award?

Clark: Gobert will be the Defensive Player of the Year.

Laura: Gobert for Defensive Player of the Year. We’ve all seen those TPA charts, right?

David: An especially motivated Gobert will take out his frustrations on the NBA the rest of the season. If so, DPOY could be within reach.

Dan: He should finish top 3 in DPOY, but Gobert should also be getting more Most Improved buzz.

2 Comments

  1. John Jenkins says:

    Seems also if you watch this stuff much. You have to earn the place over time. A few players make their mark right away, but the are usually super stars.. i.e. Lebron, Jordan. Rudy will take this as a personal affront. The Lakers found out last night.

  2. LKA says:

    Still think it should be considered on what a player has done THIS YEAR.kobe last year because he was a all star and give him a sendoff does not buy it with me. Let someone else have a piece on the cake. Davis isvery in jury prone and is on and off with it. Would not be surprised if he goes down. Maybe Gobert will fill in for him.

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