NBA • Jefferson, Millsap are Utah's best candidates in deep field.
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If Al Jefferson had a vote, he said, all of his teammates would be All Stars. But when the Western Conference reserves are announced Thursday, it's very likely that, once again, the Jazz will be shut out by the coaches.
Jefferson and power forward Paul Millsap are the Jazz's best candidates, but find themselves mired among loads of accomplished big men, including those enjoying breakout seasons (LaMarcus Aldridge) and former All-Stars (Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, David Lee, Zach Randolph).
"It would be tough," Millsap said, "but it would be great to get somebody there."
A year ago, Millsap was considered to be among the biggest All-Star snubs. However, his numbers are down from 16.6 points and 8.8 rebounds last year (to 14.8 and 7.7) and there was not as much public chatter about him earning his first All-Star bid.
"There should have been," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You look at how he's played, especially as of late. The year he had, I think he and Al are both very deserving of All-Star consideration."
Corbin said the voting process for him took "a lot of consideration, discussion with the other [Jazz assistant] coaches." Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.
Jefferson leads the Jazz with 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds, and is on the verge of averaging a double-double for the fourth time in his career. However, he has never been an All Star, despite averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds in 2008-09.
"I do not get my hopes up for it no more," Jefferson said. "I used to be excited about it, my first, second year in Minnesota I got excited. So to keep me from being disappointed, I don't think about it. If it happens, I'm thankful. If it don't, I'll get some rest that's the way I think about it."
However, the ninth-year center said he does "think my name should be in the mix."
Jefferson's chances were likely dimmed by a change this year that eliminated the center position from voting, and rendered all post players equal.
"Centers are tough," Corbin said, "because who's a center anymore? But we play the old way, we have centers as big guys that are down low. I don't know how that hurt or helped him he's still the player that he is."
The Jazz last had an All Star in 2011, when Deron Williams was selected to the team for a second straight year.
Last week, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant were voted starters by the fans. All-Star Weekend is Feb. 15-17 in Houston.