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Lauri Markkanen among All-Star leaders in first fan returns

lauri-markkanen-all-star-vote-leaders-first-fan-returns-arizona-wildcats-basketball Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

When the NBA All-Star Game is played in Salt Lake City next month, the host Utah Jazz figure to have at least one player represented.

It’s a good bet that player is former Arizona star Lauri Markkaken, who is seventh among Western Conference front court players in All-Star voting after the first fan returns. Fan vote accounts for 50% of All-Star Game selection, with 25% determined by NBA players and 25% by media members.

Markkanen received 466,988 votes in the first fan returns, which is a considerable amount for a small-market player who isn’t the household name of, say, Draymond Green or Kawhi Leonard.

Markkanen is averaging 23.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Jazz, who are 19-21 and occupy the 10th and final playoff spot of the Western Conference.

The Finnish 7-footer is having a breakout first season with the Jazz after being traded to Utah from Cleveland last summer. Markkanen is shooting 52.9% from the field compared to 44.5% a year ago.

Markkanen has scored 28 or more points in Utah’s last five games, including 36 the other night against Sacramento. Markkanen almost hit a game-winning 3-pointer against the Kings, but the shot left his hand too late.

Fans can vote Markkanen to the All-Star Game here.