A seemingly endless amount of injuries have made this Utah Jazz season as frustrating as any I can remember. This was supposed to be our breakout year with great off-season acquisitions and our own talent coming into it’s prime. But every time it seems like we’ll have our team at full strength, some sort of injury happens. Nevertheless, even with all these injuries this team has shown True Grit and fought through The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to a 4th place spot in the western conference.
At times I’ve been so frustrated I wanted to take the 3:10 to Yuma out of here, but, this team of unsung heroes and misfits have banded together and are working towards quieting all their doubters. Their fight and no-quit attitude has been reminiscent to me of a lot of the classic western films.
Most recently, I watched The Magnificent Seven and I couldn’t help but see the parallels. At the beginning of the movie, we see Emma Cullen watch as her husband is murdered setting off the story. Is that not the same as when we got the training camp news that Alec Burks had to have surgery again?!
It felt like the Jazz started this season with the same fire as Emma Cullen when she said, “I seek righteousness. But I’ll take revenge.”
The Utah Jazz band of misfits that will take out their revenge on the league are as follows:
The Bounty Hunter - Gordon Hayward
“I took a job, we’re going after the [league]. I’m looking for some men to join me.”
“Is it difficult?”
“How many you got so far?”
“You and me.”
It’s no secret that Gordon Hayward is out for a bounty. Gordon is fighting for the Utah Jazz’ cause, but he may have his own personal vendettas. Will he stay with the Jazz or is he looking for some other lesser bounty and leave Utah, much like Sam Chisolm was going after Bartholomew Bogue because he murdered his wife and children.
I like to think that Gordon is as good as re-signed, but with all these injuries, and if we make a bad showing in the playoffs, maybe he’ll leave. Who knows?
The Gambler - George Hill
“I’ve always been lucky with one eye’d jacks!”
Probably the biggest risk taker on the Jazz would be George Hill. Absolutely fearless in his defense of anyone on the court, Hill has been dealt some bad hands. It takes a real gambler to go head on with Alex Len on an outlet pass and face him up. But that’s what I love about George Hill, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. He goes all in on every play and possession. And yes, that will lead him to injuries here and there, but it’s also what helps him get wins.
Perhaps he needs to listen to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers a bit...
But I don’t think George Hill is as good if he learns when to hold em, and when to fold em. It’s just not who he is.
The Outlaw - Derrick Favors
In the Magnificent Seven, the outlaw, also known as the Mexican, is at his hideout and Sam Chisolm has to convince him to come on their journey. Much like the Bounty Hunter, the Outlaw is also in it for the money. Know anyone who’s been hiding for a while that will also be seeking a bounty in free agency soon?
Derrick Favors is one of the best people you’ll ever come across and has a real charm. On the court, when healthy, he’s an absolute beast that changes games on both ends of the floor. It’s a crime what he does to undersized fours.
There’s a reason the Outlaw survives everything in the end, he’s just a bad, bad man. When we get Derrick to full strength, watch out!
The Sharpshooter - Joe Ingles
“It's like my daddy said...
What did your daddy say?
[laughs] My daddy said a lot of things!”
I’m to the point that if the Jazz are destined not to win a title, the least they can be is entertaining. Is there anyone more entertaining in this league than Joe Ingles?! NAME THEM, THAT’S RIGHT YOU CAN NOT!
There was a time we used to think that Ingles was on this team to be a mentor to Dante and a good locker room presence. Though he’s been those things, Ingles has become a legitimate sharpshooter, the best in the league even! Not only is he firing up nets like Blazing Saddles he’s also lowered his turnovers and even become a solid defender. When Ingles comes into the game I’m excited because I know he’s capable of putting away teams with his carbine.
Let if fly, Joe, always let it fly!
The Assassin - Rodney Hood
“Knives, there's nothing to it.”
[slashes open some dummies, everyone walks away]
“Hey, come back!”
There are times where Rodney’s streakiness can be a bit frustrating. But he’s been better this year, and you could argue his streakiness may be the product of health issues. You never know with the Jazz, as quiet as they are at saying anything about anything.
But when Rodney Hood is hitting shots he puts the knife right in the enemy heart. And with some of the monster dunks he’s had this year, he seems to enjoy twisting that knife.
Rodney has also shown a propensity for closing games. His ability to get to his free throw line spots and rise above the defender can be absolutely lethal.
Another one of my favorite things this year are Rodney’s celebrations after killing an opponent. They’re the best...
The Warrior - Joe Johnson
One of the coolest scenes in the movie is when the Warrior shows up. Everyone freezes in fear not knowing what to expect, but also respecting the abilities of the great Indian warriors of the past.
Probably the biggest shock to me of the offseason was the acquisition of Joe Johnson. He chose to come to Utah. I’m sure a lot of teams would have gladly taken him as an able veteran scorer with the ability to put teams away at the end of games. But Joe Johnson chose Utah over every other suitor. It’s a big deal. It shows that even though national media, and the casual fan, might not quite understand how good the Jazz are, the players do.
Iso Joe commands the respect of everyone in the league and when he steps on the court, opposing players freeze knowing what he can do.
The Tracker - Rudy Gobert
“That Bear is wearing people’s clothes...”
There are characters in old westerns that forgo guns, and turn to the hatchet or the knife. They want to see their opponents die when they kill them. Rudy is that guy, the killer of the Jazz and the last line of defense.
He tracks down the shots of opposing teams and proceeds to murder the shooter at the rim. Much like the Tracker in Magnificent Seven, Rudy’s reputation proceeds him. Other teams know he’s there and they avoid him much like they would if they saw a raging grizzly. For those foolish enough to take on the Stifle Tower, they always meet a terrible fate. Don’t believe me? Look up the stats of every center who’s gone against Rudy. They’ve all been left face down on the court, a hatchet in their back.
This season is going to be fun, all the way to the end. And the best part, you can sense the Jazz will overcome their injuries. Like the endings in all good westerns, a lot of good guys will fall, but the Jazz will come out on top and a lot farther than anyone would have expected.