In the landscape of the NBA, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the Utah Jazz. As a franchise, they keep things close to the hip and stay relatively quiet with the media. Sometimes, that has negative consequences—like the fact that the 30-24 Jazz don’t have a player in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.
The talent-pool in the Western Conference is deep, which makes the competition pretty steep. But in comparison to some of the players that will be playing on Sunday, there are a couple of Utah players that deserve to be there. Al Jefferson in particular deserves the honor.
Frontcourt players like Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin undoubtedly deserve to be there. Off of a combination of his play and reputation, it’s hard to argue Tim Duncan as an All-Star selection.
However, a case can be made that Jefferson deserves to be an All-Star just as much as the other three frontcourt players for the West, Zach Randolph, David Lee and LaMarcus Aldridge.
For the season, Randolph is averaging 16 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per 36 minutes as well as shooting 47.4 percent from the field. His Player Efficiency Rating is 18.33. Lee averages 18.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks per 36 minutes, shoots 51.4 percent and has a PER of 19.42. Aldridge is averaging 19.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, one assist, 0.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting 48.2 percent from the field, which gives him a PER of 20.26.
In comparison, Jefferson is averaging 19.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes on 48.5 percent shooting. He also has the 11th highest PER in the league at 21.14.
So looking at all of those per 36-minute numbers, Jefferson averages more points than Lee and Randolph, more boards than Aldridge, more assists than Randolph and Aldridge, more steals than all three players, more blocks than Lee and Aldridge and has a higher field goal percentage than Lee and Aldridge. He also has the highest PER out of the four of them.
The issue of team success isn’t really a factor either. Utah, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies are all within five games of one another in the standings and would all make the playoffs if the season ended today. The Portland Trail Blazers are below .500 at 25-28 and are currently three games out of the eight-seed in the West.
Looking at how Jefferson has played in comparison to these three players, it’s pretty perplexing why he’s not in the All-Star Game. Jefferson has outperformed them as a whole and helped carry the Jazz in doing so. He probably deserves to be playing on Sunday. But there’s nothing really that can be done about that now.