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The Utah Jazz have two players that are going to be up for NBA awards and honors at the end of the 2022-23 season, which is why they recently launched a comic book campaign to remind voters of their impressive feats.

In this newsletter I want to go over who has a realistic shot at which awards and honors and how the voting system works.

First up, Lauri Markkanen. The Utah Jazz’s prized centerpiece of the Donovan Mitchell trade turned out to be even better than expected. He had a breakout season and went from being a third option on the Cleveland Cavaliers to being the No. 1 guy in Utah and a first-time NBA All-Star.

Markkanen’s per game statistical leap from last season (14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds) to this season (25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds) as well as his efficiency (49.9% from the field, 39.1% from 3-point range) has put him squarely in the conversation for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.

It looks as though Markkanen’s toughest competition for that honor will be Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who went from averaging 24.5 points per game last season to 31.5 points per game this season.

Markkanen is also in line to make an All-NBA team for the first time in his career. After having multiple conversations with people around the league, it seems like Markkanen is a lock to make one of the teams. The question is whether he’ll be All-NBA second or third team.

He’s likely competing with the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle and Jimmy Butler for a final All-NBA second-team selection.

Related
Utah Jazz launch comic themed award campaigns for Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler

But it’s not just Markkanen who will be finishing the season with individual accolades. Rookie Walker Kessler is headed toward an almost certain All-Rookie First Team selection.

The Jazz have also been promoting Kessler as a Rookie of the Year candidate, but that’s not really in the realm of possibility. Nearly every voter I’ve talked to has Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero as their clear front-runner and he’ll probably be pretty darn close to a unanimous winner.

Kessler might get some third-place votes for Rookie of the Year. That, along with being All-Rookie First Team, is nothing to turn your nose up at.

There are quite a few Jazz fans who have hoped that rookie head coach Will Hardy could be in the discussion for Coach of the Year. I hate to be the one to bring the bad news, but it’s not going to happen. Sacramento’s Mike Brown is going to win this one by a landslide.

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Report: Walker Kessler is in the concussion protocol

So how does the end-of-year voting work?

The NBA sends out ballots to 100 reporters, broadcasters and analysts. It’s the NBA media that decides. For the Most Valuable Player ballot, five players are chosen, ranked from one to five. For the other individual awards, three players are chosen, ranked one to three. Those votes are given a sliding number of points based on their rank and the totals are tallied to determine the winner.

All-NBA and All-Rookie ballots are filled out with one name for each position on each team.

This is why NBA teams launch award campaigns and send out things like comic books to members of the media. It’s their votes that they want. This year, ballots are due by April 10, the day after the regular season concludes.

New with the Jazz

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Luka Samanic reunites with Will Hardy to try to right what went wrong in his NBA career

This week in Jazz history

On April 4, 1997, Karl Malone became the first NBA player to reach the 2,000-point plateau in 10 consecutive seasons in the Jazz’s 106-79 victory against the Grizzlies.

Stat of the week

Across the Jazz’s three-game road trip, facing the San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, Talen Horton-Tucker scored a combined 101 points.

From the archives

Related
What position are the Utah Jazz in the NBA draft lottery?
Donovan Mitchell no longer holds a record he set with the Utah Jazz

Extra points

  • Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith reportedly met with NHL commissioner (Deseret News)
  • Iconic Utah Jazz fan Dr. Richard Anderson dies at age 78 (Deseret News)
  • Walker Kessler surprises himself with some of his impressive blocks (KSL.com)

Around the league

The 2022-23 NBA MVP race could be the closest it’s ever been.

NBA and NBPA agree on new 7-year collective bargaining agreement.

The Sacramento Kings clinched their first playoff berth since 2006.

Up next

April 4 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers | AT&T SportsNet
April 6 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | AT&T SportsNet
April 8 | 1:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets | AT&T SportsNet
April 9 | 1:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers | AT&T SportsNet

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) battles Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) for a rebound during game against the Phoenix Suns at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on March 27, 2023. Kessler is likely to land on the All-Rookie First Team when the votes comes in. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News