Paul Millsap – again – must wait to find out whether NBA coaches believe him to be an All-Star.
The answer has been yes each of the past three seasons. However, the Hawks power forward is on hold before any reservations can be made for New Orleans next month.
Millsap has been an Eastern Conference reserve each of his three seasons in a Hawks uniform. He didn’t make the Western Conference team in any of his first seven seasons with the Jazz. The NBA will announce the reserves on Thursday to fill out the 12-man teams as selected by coaches. The five starters were announced last week as selected by the fans, players and media.
“I’ve been an all-star,” Millsap said Monday morning before the Hawks hosted the Clippers. “Whatever happens, it’s not about that. It’s about this team and getting this team where we need to be. If myself, or somebody on this team, is rewarded great. If not, we’ll get out there and kick butt.”
Millsap is one of four players this season averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks this season. The others are Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and DeMarcus Cousins. Durant and Antetokounmpo will start for the West and East, respectively.
Millsap leads the Hawks in scoring (17.9 points) and his second in rebounds (8.1), assists (3.2), steals (1.54) and blocks (1.02).
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said one of his players deserves to be an All-Star between Millsap, Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder. However, the versatility of Millsap stands out.
“Obviously, the way Paul and Dwight and Dennis have played, I hope the coaches all see how they are helping us, the way our team is playing and the way they are contributing,” Budenholzer said. “All the different things Paul does on both ends of the court. He is so unique and so gifted, I think coaches appreciate what he does. I’m not into the campaigning but he is pretty unique.”
Millsap finished 20th in All-Star fan voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players with 39,551 votes. He finished tied for 12th in player voting with 13 votes. A total of 324 players took part in the balloting process. Millsap also finished tied for eight in media panel voting with one vote.
Millsap believes the Hawks’ record warrants an All-Star selection. The Hawks entered Monday’s game first in the Southeast Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference at 26-18. They lead the division by 2.5 games over the Wizards. They are five games behind the Cavaliers, two games behind the Raptors and .5 game behind the Celtics in the conference.
“For sure,” Millsap said when asked if the Hawks’ place in the standings should be taking into consideration. “Top three, top four, in the Eastern Conference. But we know how that is. We know how that is. Sometimes, it’s not predicated off of wins – and it should be. It should be. I think our team has done great. A lot of teams have done great and should have guys in there. But it’s up to the coaches. At the end of the day, I think the coaches, they know that.”
The All-Star Game will be played in New Orleans on Feb. 19. It was moved by the league from Charlotte. Millsap, who grew up in Louisiana, made his first All-Star appearance in New Orleans in 2014. He also played in New York in 2015 and Toronto in 2016.