Utah Jazz 40 at 40: Jazz Player Legacies

Marc Piscotty

If you ask anyone who are the biggest names in Jazz history they'll say Stockton and Malone. Other Hall of Famers are easy to spot, like Pistol Pete and Adrian Dantley. But do you really know which players have left the biggest legacies for the Jazz?

Sometimes a player leaves his mark on their team through great performances over their careers. Other times their name is written in history for one amazing play at a critical juncture in a single game. You can be a supporting player on a great team, or a great talent on a bad team. No matter what, fans will remember your name if you develop a legacy. There are quite a few notable names in Utah Jazz history -- obvious ones, and some less than obvious.

In order to find out which players were the ultimate biggest pieces of Utah Jazz history I looked at every single player to wear a New Orleans / Utah Jazz jersey in an NBA game. I figured that the players that would have the biggest legacies would be the players who played in the most games, the most minutes, scored the most points, had the most rebounds, dished out the most assists, stolen the ball the most, and of course, block the crap out of the ball more than anyone else.

I made a list of the Top 25 players in Jazz history for each category, and filled in the rest. What we have here is a list of 51 players with the best cases for saying they were a part of Jazz history. The surprising part is when you average their individual ranks, and then find the True List of on court performance in a Jazz uniform.

All-Stars, NBA Finals, Dunk contests . . . these are things that help your name grow. But on the court if you can make yourself a big part of the history books then you deserve to be on this list. Here are the Top 51 players in terms of their average numerical legacies.

OV Jazz Avg. G Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk OV Jazz Avg. G Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk
Rk Player Rank Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Player Rank Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk Rk
1 Karl Malone 1.86 2 1 1 1 2 2 4 26 Howard Eisley 31.14 19 23 31 51 10 22 62
2 John Stockton 3.00 1 2 2 3 1 1 11 27 Gordon Hayward 33.00 38 34 29 45 23 31 31
3 Andrei Kirilenko 5.14 7 5 6 7 5 4 2 28 Adam Keefe 33.14 22 30 40 22 63 27 28
4 Darrell Griffith 7.57 4 4 4 12 9 5 15 29 Jarron Collins 33.29 12 25 41 24 42 51 38
5 Thurl Bailey 7.71 5 6 5 6 12 15 5 30 Ronnie Brewer 33.29 33 32 30 47 33 13 45
6 Mark Eaton 8.14 3 3 16 2 18 14 1 31 Aaron James 33.43 25 26 20 25 49 43 46
7 Paul Millsap 10.29 10 12 13 8 15 8 6 32 Mike Brown 34.86 23 31 38 19 62 42 29
8 Rich Kelley 12.00 11 18 19 5 11 12 8 33 Blue Edwards 35.57 35 37 35 44 41 25 32
9 Bryon Russell 12.43 8 9 14 14 17 6 19 34 Otto Moore 35.71 52 39 51 21 34 41 12
10 Mehmet Okur 13.14 14 11 9 10 16 23 9 35 Tyrone Corbin 37.00 41 35 39 33 46 20 45
11 Adrian Dantley 14.86 17 7 3 11 8 9 49 36 James Hardy 38.57 36 41 53 32 56 35 17
12 Deron Williams 16.29 18 10 8 28 4 11 35 37 Jeff Malone 38.71 30 19 17 48 29 37 91
13 Jeff Hornacek 16.29 13 13 11 31 6 7 33 38 E.C. Coleman 39.71 50 36 45 23 60 28 36
14 Carlos Boozer 17.29 26 17 12 9 14 16 27 39 Nate Williams 42.86 47 43 32 39 59 24 56
15 Greg Ostertag 18.14 6 14 23 4 45 32 3 40 Antonie Carr 43.71 29 38 37 46 69 73 14
16 Rickey Green 18.57 9 8 10 30 3 3 67 41 Derrick Favors 43.71 51 45 42 26 85 44 13
17 Pete Maravich 18.86 27 15 7 27 7 10 39 42 Gail Goodrich 45.71 56 42 34 69 19 29 71
18 Matt Harpring 20.29 15 16 15 15 24 17 40 43 Truck Robinson 46.86 83 40 27 18 72 63 25
19 Ben Poquette 21.86 28 22 28 16 26 26 7 44 Donyell Marshall 50.00 75 49 44 36 73 50 23
20 Jeff Wilkins 24.29 20 21 22 13 38 40 16 45 Allan Bristow 56.71 64 48 46 38 21 48 132
21 Bobby Hansen 28.00 16 20 21 35 20 18 66 46 Carey Scurry 59.57 60 78 80 60 81 34 24
22 Al Jefferson 28.29 49 28 18 17 37 39 10 47 Earl Watson 59.71 58 59 99 74 22 45 61
23 C.J. Miles 29.14 24 29 24 41 31 21 34 48 Felton Spencer 60.00 55 47 55 34 124 83 22
24 Jim McElroy 29.29 31 27 25 53 13 19 37 49 Olden Polynice 69.86 65 57 79 43 129 96 20
25 David Benoit 30.29 21 24 26 20 70 33 18 50 Carlos Arroyo 72.71 69 67 60 87 25 68 133
51 Joe Meriweather 84.14 99 91 93 56 111 118 21

Unless you are a stat geek (like me, or former Jazz owner Larry H. Miller) then you may be surprised to see Andrei Kirilenko as the third best player on average. I'm not. You may also be surprised to see a number of unknown names depending on how crazy of a Jazz fan you are. I was most surprised by Donyell being in this list.

A throw-away point is that Matt Harpring is like #15 in everything. And that was his number.

Last, but not least we have Gordon at #27 already in his young career, and Derrick at #41. The flaws in my method are obvious, I just looked at any single category (mins, games, points, etc) and found the Top 25 guys there. There could be someone who has a much higher average across the board who did not get in the Top 25 for anything. But that is why who we remember in the history books will never be truly fair.

There's no way that people will recognize Andrei Kirilenko as one of the best Jazz players UNLESS they are into stats. Dantley was a titan for our team, Deron willed us to wins, Memo had so many big shots, Pistol was the Pistol, and so forth. But this is interesting when you look at which players the Jazz have decided to honor.

Retired Jerseys (Players):

  • #4 - Dantley
  • #7 - Maravich
  • #12 - Stockton
  • #14 - Hornacek
  • #32 - Malone
  • #35 - Griffith
  • #53 - Eaton

By looking at their numerical accomplishments it's hard not to also make a case for some of these other guys. Among them I think it would be fair to at least consider (when they are all retired), Kirilenko, Bailey, Millsap, Kelley (?), Russell, Okur, and D-Will. You can't retire everyone's number. I get that. But these players were big pieces of the Jazz' history.

Their legacies are not completely written yet. But they stand shoulder to shoulder with those who have been immortalized.

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