Utah Jazz fans sure want it, but is Donovan Mitchell worthy of an All-Star selection?

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 27: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on December 27, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 27: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on December 27, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz fans have begun voting en masse for Donovan Mitchell to become an All-Star, but does the rookie guard have a legitimate chance?

Despite several ups and downs in a season that we all knew could be a tough one following the departure of Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz have actually been a lot of fun this year. And the reason for that is largely due to the emergence of electrifying rookie guard Donovan Mitchell.

Mitchell won over Jazz fans from the onset by being visibly elated to be traded to Utah. His infectious personality was instantly a hit among the Utah faithful and his incredible play during Summer League pretty much solidified him as a fan favorite before he even took the court in a meaningful game.

And once he did actually take the court, it wasn’t long until he captivated Jazz fans for good.

His play has been absolutely sensational in his young NBA career as he leads the Jazz as well as all rookies in scoring with 18.2 points per game. Despite a rocky shooting start, Mitchell is now shooting solid marks from the field (44 percent) and behind the arc (35.7 percent) and appears to only be improving from there.

His play during the month of December was surely indicative of that. Despite heightened competition, a rigorous schedule and more focus placed on him by opposing teams, he answered the call and continued to be Utah’s most prolific offensive player. In December, he put up 23.1 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent shooting from deep while adding 3.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals.

And while Utah went just 5-10 during that stretch, that mark was actually pretty respectable considering the teams they faced off against, and Mitchell was a huge part of nearly all of those wins while also playing phenomenally in many of the disappointing losses.

In fact, he started off the month in about the best way imaginable, with a career-high 41-point outing against the New Orleans Pelicans. That performance made him the first rookie since Blake Griffin in 2011 to record a 40-point game. Ironically enough, back in 2011, Blake Griffin also went on to be an All-Star as a rookie, the last such first-year player to do it.

Donovan Mitchell has already matched one incredible rookie accomplishment, but can he get that second one and become an All-Star in his rookie season?

Utah Jazz fans sure think he’s deserving of it. All it takes is a quick perusal of Jazz Twitter to find Donovan Mitchell’s name and/or Twitter handle surrounded by #NBAVote hashtags as fans give their best efforts to will the young rookie into the All-Star game.

And while it’s practically undeniable that Mitchell has been Utah’s best player this season and is certainly the most deserving of All-Star recognition among his Jazz teammates, the question that truly matters is, has Mitchell done enough to be selected as an All-Star when compared to the rest of the star-studded Western Conference?

My gut reaction is to say probably not, simply because the West is so dang loaded. Check out this list of All-Stars from last season alone that currently find themselves in the Western Conference – Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Paul Millsap.

Sure, a few of those guys could be replaced due to injury struggles such as Paul Millsap and Kawhi Leonard. Others are having less than mind-blowing years in 2017-18 such as Marc Gasol or DeAndre Jordan. Thus, based on those thoughts alone, it may appear there’s a window for Mitchell after all.

Then again, there’s also a number of other guys who were either snubbed last year or have advanced this year that may be deserving themselves. Consider the likes of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Paul, or Karl-Anthony Towns, to name a few. Heck, even the likes of Lou Williams, Devin Booker, Steven Adams or Nikola Jokic are putting up a decent case.

Thus, one can’t help but ask, has Donovan Mitchell set himself apart as better than enough of the guys in that group to be selected ahead of them for the All-Star Game?

I certainly think there’s an argument that he has, but let’s dive into some numbers a little bit more, shall we? Last season, the All-Star guard with the lowest scoring average was Klay Thompson, who finished the year at 22.3 points per game. Points per game aren’t the end-all by any means, but in terms of selecting All-Stars, it certainly seems to help. As another reference, when Blake Griffin made it as a rookie, he put up 22.5 points per game that season.

Not only that, but nearly every All-Star last season shot a better percentage than Mitchell has thus far in the season and several of Mitchell’s other numbers such as rebounds or assists don’t exactly jump off the page. None of this is to take anything away from Mitchell – he’s fantastic and is only going to continue to become a better player – but to expect an All-Star selection in his first year might be a bit too much to ask, particularly for a guy who plays for the Jazz, a team that’s typically been overlooked in that regard.

Therefore, as much as I’d like to see Mitchell get the nod, I have a feeling that the cards might be too stacked against him despite his phenomenal play so far this season. However, whether he makes it or not, there’s certainly still a pretty solid argument that he does indeed deserve to be an All-Star regardless of how the final votes or coach selections fall.

For starters, his December stat line in and of itself is certainly worthy of All-Star consideration. Part of the reason why his overall numbers are lower than what one would expect to see out of an All-Star guard is because he got off to somewhat of a slow start this year. He’s clearly reversed that early trend, though, and has fired on all cylinders since.

If he can match his December production in January leading up to when All-Star reserves are announced on January 23rd, he may be able to finally turn enough heads to sneak in.

Not only that, but consider the impact he has had on his Jazz team. Despite being a first-year player, he’s already become the most dangerous offensive option and the team’s MVP. There obviously has to be some elements that would make him worthy of being an All-Star if he’s worked his way into becoming that important of a piece to this Jazz team so soon.

In other words, if he were judged on December alone, he’d almost certainly be deserving of an All-Star nod. However, based on his season as a whole, he’s probably just outside that mix. If he has a big January, though, what he’s done up to this point could be just enough to get him in.

But as I said, I don’t know that I quite see it happening, even though it would be extremely cool. Mitchell’s start to the season was a tad bit too slow, his shooting is still a tad bit too inconsistent, there’s just a few too many big names in the West and the Jazz are too underappreciated for Donovan to get over that hump. Perhaps he’ll prove me wrong (and I’ll gladly eat crow if he does), but that’s a lot of cards stacked against him.

Nevertheless, I think we can all see pretty clearly that while a rookie year All-Star nod may be out of reach, Mitchell is destined to earn plenty of All-Star selections throughout his career. He’s already begun turning the heads of several marquee players across the league and his play has made him one of the most promising young guards in the NBA.

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And even if his chances are slim for this year, by no means does that mean that Jazz fans should stop believing. I know I, for one, will continue tweeting and retweeting Mitchell’s name with the #NBAVote hashtag. Even if the votes don’t end up falling in his favor, at the very least it’s a show of our appreciation for him and a helpful reminder around the league of just how special this player is and is going to be.

You can vote up to 10 times per day on social media, so don’t forget to use #NBAVote with Donovan Mitchell’s name as often as possible.