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Luhm: Millsap belongs in All-Star discussions

Published February 5, 2011 11:25 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to those playing and not playing in the NBA All-Star Game, Paul Millsap won't be included on anyone's All-Snubbed team.

The original list of deserving-but-unnamed players, especially in the Western Conference, is longer than the 8 a.m. security line at Salt Lake International.

There's LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Nash, Tony Parker, Monta Ellis, David West, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph and Nene, among others.

But Millsap?

He's an afterthought in this conversation, even though he should be in the middle of it.

Millsap's naturally low-key nature and his blue-collar style on the court contribute to his life in the shadows.

It could be argued, however, that no Jazz player has been more valuable this season than the second-round draft pick from Louisiana Tech.

Millsap averages 16.9 points and 7.8 rebounds.

He shoots 52.8 percent from the field with range on his jumper few thought possible for a player who, in college, spent most of his time at the rim.

"He's been a huge part of what we're trying to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan says. "... He's done a heck of a job trying to make himself a better player.

"Basically he was an inside player — a rebounder — but he's added a lot of things to that. And that's what you like to see."

Millsap's best game this season is etched in Jazz history.

On Nov. 9 at Miami, he scored 46 points in a 116-114 win.

Millsap had 11 points in the final 28 seconds of regulation as Utah rallied from 22 down.

Millsap has been as durable as another ex-Louisiana Tech power forward, Karl Malone, who missed 10 games in 18 seasons with the Jazz.

I asked Malone many times over the years why he never took a night off to rest and recover.

Malone talked about "a dad in Idaho" who had "saved up all year" and brought his children to watch the him.

How would those folks feel if Malone didn't play?

Millsap is the same way. He has missed seven games in 41/2 seasons.

Last week, he was doubtful against Minnesota because of a severely bruised thumb.

Still, Millsap played. He scored 30 points, grabbed eight rebounds and Utah snapped a six-game losing streak.

It was a Malone-like effort.






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