Utah Jazz: NBA All-Star Reserves to be Announced Tonight

Jan 20, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) and center Rudy Gobert (back) celebrate during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) and center Rudy Gobert (back) celebrate during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

With the NBA set to announce its 2017 All-Star reserves tonight, two Utah Jazz stars have a good chance of making their first ever appearance.

The anticipation and debate of whether the Utah Jazz deserve recognition in the 2017 NBA All-Star game will all come to an end tonight as the All-Star reserves are set to be announced on TNT at 5:00 pm MT. Excitingly enough, the Utah Jazz will also be playing on the national stage on TNT following the announcement as they take on the Los Angeles Lakers at 8:30 pm.

Depending on what the status is of Utah’s two All-Star hopefuls, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, by the time that game tips off, one or both of them could be playing to validate a first-time All-Star selection, or on the contrary could be playing with an enormous chip on their shoulder to prove that the coaches made a big mistake by leaving them off the ballot.

Both Hayward and Gobert present intriguing cases as potential All-Stars. Hayward is averaging a career-high 21.8 points per game on his best shooting numbers since his rookie season at 45.7 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from deep.

Not to mention, he’s been a stalwart leader for the Jazz and his play has been the driving force to put the team in fifth place in the Western Conference despite a ridiculous early onslaught of injuries.

Gobert on the other hand is averaging career-highs in both points and rebounds at 12.8 and 12.6, respectively, while shooting an incredible career-best 66.4 percent from the field. He’s also built a reputation as one of the most staunch defending big men in the league as he’s averaging a league-high 2.5 blocks per contest and has turned into arguably the most formidable rim protector in the NBA.

And although one sure vote won’t guarantee him an All-Star selection, as our very own Zach Padmore pointed out earlier in the week, it was good to hear on Tuesday that Nuggets coach Mike Malone had indeed voted for Rudy Gobert as an All-Star reserve, noting his elite rim protection as a leading reason.

The Nuggets broadcasters also expressed that they were quite certain that Hayward would earn an All-Star bid, so it was good to see the Jazz getting such respect from a divisional foe.

Yet, the praise of one team won’t be nearly enough to secure an All-Star bid. Hayward, Gobert and all of Jazz Nation will have to hope that the duo has done enough all season long to impress the rest of the league’s coaches as well.

However, while initially fans were hoping that at least one of Utah’s stars would receive All-Star recognition, lately there is reason to believe that perhaps both will find themselves suiting up for the Western Conference All-Stars.

Several renowned sports writers such as Zach Lowe and Mark Stein have both Jazzmen in their All-Star lineups. You can check them out in the tweets below:

While their picks won’t obviously determine who ultimately is selected, it’s still great to see such nationally reputed sources giving the Jazz some well-deserved love.

And it seems like that recognition doesn’t end there. Several members of the media including the Jazz’s very own Ron Boone have mentioned profusely that Gobert is definitely standing out and garnering the respect of coaches around the league.

So while Hayward feels very much like a lock given how much he’s improved this season and how he’s been able to carry a wounded Jazz team to the fifth seed in the West, perhaps coaches are taking notice of what Gobert has done this season and just how vital he is to Utah’s success as well.

If that ends up being the case, who knows, perhaps rather than sneaking one guy into the All-Star game, the Jazz will shock the league by sending both Hayward and Gobert to New Orleans.

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Of course it’s all just hype and speculation until the names are actually released. Unfortunately not every coach like Mike Malone is willing to just spill their All-Star selections (if they did there would be no point for this evening’s hyped-up announcement), so it’s impossible to get into all of their heads.

Nevertheless, after weeks of hoping, wishing and speculating, all is about to be revealed tonight regarding whether the Jazz will be sending any players to the 2017 All-Star Game.

I have a feeling Jazz fans are going to be pleased with the results, but even if they don’t turn out as we may hope, you can bet that any snubbing will only turn into fuel to the fire to push the Jazz’s stars to produce at an even higher level moving forward.

All stats courtesy of NBA.com