UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Lauri Markkanen An All-Star Again?

Jan 30, 2024, 3:14 PM | Updated: 3:16 pm

Lauri-Markkanen-Utah-Jazz-NBA-All-Star-Game...

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz reacts during the first quarter in the 2023 NBA All Star Game between Team Giannis and Team LeBron at Vivint Arena on February 19, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

Each week we will send out a prompt on KSL Sports ThreadsInstagramX, and Facebook pages asking for the questions you have about the Jazz.

Then, we’ll respond to as many as we can in that week’s mailbag.

Jazz Mailbag: Will Lauri Markkanen Make The All-Star Team?

Question: Will Lauri Markkanen make the All-Star team for a second straight year?

A: This is a tricky question for Markkanen this year, and not because he’s done anything short of put up All-Star numbers since opening night.

The Jazz forward’s 23.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while shooting 49 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three, and 87 percent from the free-throw line pass the All-Star smell test.

Additionally, the Jazz will be at worst one game below .500 when All-Star reserves are announced, and firmly within reach of the the Play-In Tournament in the West.

Furthermore, Markkanen is unquestionably the best player on his team, which could give him an edge over Paul George, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Chet Holmgren, and Anthony Davis who have had All-Star-worthy seasons on teams better than the Jazz, but aren’t the best players on those teams.

So, based on Markkanen’s production, the Jazz’s record, and his importance to the roster, there are no glaring holes in his resume, and I think the league’s coaches should give him the nod.

But, it appears the national media disagrees.

I pulled the results of six different major national media outlets (Sporting News, CBS, The Ringer, Bleacher Report, TNT, and The Athletic) to see where the ranked Markkanen, and the majority think he’ll be watching the All-Star game from home.

Of the six, only Bleacher Report and The Ringer had Markkanen representing the West as an All-Star reserve, with the other outlets naming one of George, Booker, Gobert, Holmgren, Davis, Alperen Sengun, Kawhi Leonard, or Victor Wembanyama filling his place.

With that in mind, I think Markkanen should be an All-Star, but won’t be surprised if he’s passed over.

Q: Should the Jazz pursue Dejounte Murray? If so, what kind of package would we send? How does he change the team?

A: Dejounte Murray is probably the most likely “big name” to be moved at the trade deadline, despite recent rumors that former Jazz coach Quin Snyder would prefer he remain in Atlanta.

Murray is having another solid season averaging 21.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three.

After this season, the 27-year-old is owed roughly $110 million over the next four years.

Based on his production and age, Murray is a fit for the Jazz.

However, it’s difficult to overlook his similarities to the Jazz’s current backcourt, namely Collin Sexton.

For comparison, here are Sexton’s averages since taking a more prominent role in the Jazz’s rotation over the team’s last 26 games.

Sexton is averaging 21.5 points per game, 5.3 assists, and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three.

When compared to one another, Sexton and Murray have nearly identical scoring and assist numbers, Murray has a definitive edge in rebounding, while Sexton is a more efficient scorer.

Defensively, while Murray has a better reputation, the difference is negligible.

Then, factor in that Murray is averaging nearly seven minutes more per game, is two years older, and is set to make $16 million more over the next two seasons and the scales start to tilt in Sexton’s favor.

This argument is contingent on Sexton maintaining his current averages over a larger sample size, the Jazz are probably better off picking Sexton over Murray, and using the assets it would take to acquire the Hawks guard elsewhere.

We answered these questions and more on the latest Jazz Notes podcast which you can listen to in the player above, and catch every Tuesday wherever you download podcasts!

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Lauri Markkanen An All-Star Again?