We all love the Jazz and their current roster. But there are a handful of players that you wish played for the Jazz even though it likely won’t ever happen for a myriad of reasons. These are guys that you have a hard time cussing out when they make a great play against the Jazz because you secretly wished they played for the Jazz. You don’t hate them because they seem like they would fit right in with the Jazz style and culture.
What exactly does it mean to be a Jazz guy? I’ve listed criteria below. If each bullet point was worth a point, players need to score at least a 2.5 out of 3 to be considered. If I haven’t listed a player you think needs to be on the list, please let me know in the comments (no Lebrons and no Currys please...even though that would be awesome).
- They would have had to have been able to play for Jerry Sloan and, by extension, Quin Snyder.
- They have to be the kind of player that you could see playing with and staying with the Jazz. This could mean they have a connection to the Jazz or Utah or that they have shown loyalty to their respective team, preferably a small-market team.
- They have to be good. This is somewhat subjective but we’re not looking for just anyone. Maybe this means they smoke the Jazz when they play or that they are one of the better players at their position.
So, without further ado...The GWOOTies (if I use it enough it’ll stick right?).
The Starting Five
#1. Damian Lillard - PG
Damian Lillard is probably the MVP of this list. Jazz fans like and respect Lillard even though he seems to play lights-out against the Jazz. He played at Weber State for 4 years before going into the NBA and winning rookie of the year. Dame went back and graduated from Weber State in 2015. In typical Jazz fashion, he does not seem to get the respect he deserves, having been left out of the All-Star game despite being one of the top point guards in the league.
#2. Kawhi Leonard - Wing
The last two Jazz home games I’ve attended have been against the Spurs. Both games were Jazz losses for one main reason: Freaking Kawhi Leonard. There is some real crossover between Jazz and Spurs culture but Kawhi is the only Spur making the list this year. Lots of teams missed on Kawhi Leonard in the 2011 draft but the Jazz drafted Enes Kanter (3rd pick) and Alec Burks (12th pick) ahead of him at 15. The guy has been an All-Star, the Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year. Coulda, shoulda, didn’t. Something tells me Kawhi will be on this list for a long time.
#3. Jamaal Crawford - Wing
I know. I know. I KNOW he plays for the Clippers. And he came into the league when the statues still played. Just hear me out on this one. How many times over the years have the Jazz needed that guy to come in off the bench and score with the second unit? Jamal is the only player in NBA history to win 6th Man of the Year three times. How many more games would the Jazz have won had they had that guy that could hit a tough 3 during crunch time? Crawford has done that throughout his career (and against the Jazz, mind you). Could he have played for J-Slo? I don’t know but you gotta respect a guy who has been able to excel in his role for so long.
#4. Paul Millsap - Wing-ish
Let’s not kid ourselves: We all still hold a special place in our hearts for Paul Millsap. I get goosebumps just thinking about the Miracle in Miami. Sure, it doesn’t help that we let him walk and he went on to be a two-time All-Star for Atlanta. At the time, he was an undersized big man who was just starting to extend his game beyond the 3 point line. Millsap is still the epitome of Utah Jazz culture. I guess it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Take us back, Paul. Take us back.
#5. Steven Adams - C
Steven Adams would fit like a glove here in Utah. He is the kind of player that gets under the skin of the opposing team. He plays hard. He’s like a giant Matt Harping. He’s from New Zealand which is almost Australia (and we love our Aussies). And he is the youngest of 18 children! This video won me over on Adams:
Honorable mentions and possible future candidates:
-Jakob Poeltl/Delon Wright