It seems that winning gets you a lot of attention. The Utah Jazz had Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio, and Joe Ingles listed on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 NBA players list. What’s remarkable about this is these Utah Jazz players were not rated 90-100. The Utah Jazz had all three of these players rated 51-60. There is a case that Joe Ingles—the greatest player to ever lace them up—should be rated much higher, but not many could have anticipated when Joe Ingles earned a roster spot on the Jazz less than 5 years ago that he’d be a top 100 player in the NBA, let alone top 60.
Here is what Sports Illustrated had to say about these highly rated Jazzmen.
When you’re already one of the best defenders, passers, and rebounders at your position, a smaller step forward can feel like a stride. There are two factors at work (and thus two parallel reasons to believe in his progress last season): Rubio has now posted a career-high effective field goal percentage in three straight seasons, showing a clear developmental arc; and separately, only now is Rubio playing for a coaching staff that seems to really understand him. You can’t just plug Rubio into any system and hope for the best. Utah gets that, and has found ways to push their point guard without missing the boat on what makes him so valuable in the first place. — RM
Our Take: Ricky Rubio somehow is rated more accurately by Sports Illustrated than by NBA2K. Ricky Rubio is an elite perimeter defender and pure point guard. He has made huge strides in shooting. If he has a consistent season from beyond the arc, the Utah Jazz are the second best team in the West with Rubio probably earning another contract from Utah next offseason. This is a fair rating.
If you were to ask a basketball coach to describe their ideal role player, they might unknowingly profile Ingles (11.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.8 APG). Think about it. They’d want someone who’s easy to play with, like a pass-first wing player who also happens to be one of the best three-point shooters in the league. Beyond that, they’d want someone with enough of a handle to initiate some offense and enough vision to make smart plays. Defensive commitment is a given, and the ability to guard multiple positions is a perk. The player would need to be intensely competitive, but it’s best if they’re also unassuming. Coaches would want the kind of player who understands his team’s principles enough to know when to break them—a delicate blend of reliability and creativity. — RM
Our Take: Who would have ever thought Joe Ingles would be this type of player? The crazy part about this rating is it actually feels a little low. What Joe Ingles can bring to a team—elite 3 point shooting and lockdown defense on an opposing team’s star wing—is second to none. Joe Ingles was thought to have been overpaid last offseason and now his contract looks like a bargain. He could be rated in the 40s because he is the protypical locker room guy, 3 point shooter, and defensive player. Joe Ingles could be rated higher next season by reputation alone even if he takes a couple steps back as he gets older this year. Joe Ingles is the spiritual successor to Manu Ginobili for the NBA. All he has to do is kill a bat.
Rudy Gobert casts a long shadow, the kind that obscures just how good his frontcourt partner can be. If transported to another team, Favors (12.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG) could anchor a defense all his own with even greater optionality. Gobert is the sort of defender whose strengths are so specific and so pronounced that they all but commit a team to defending a particular way. Any schematic discussion regarding Favors is more open-ended; his team could drop against the pick-and-roll, pressure the ball, switch outright, or even rotate between those options as some highly effective defenses do. No matter the approach, Favors is the kind of big you can trust to execute it.
Our Take: Derrick Favors is the ultimate sacrifice your personal stats for the team guy right now. He could have left Utah to find his time in the limelight, but instead, he sacrificed last season and was rewarded handsomely by Utah for the success it brought them. If he was anywhere else he’d be regarded as one of the league’s top 7 centers. Instead he is the second best big on a team with a Top 10 talent at center in Rudy Gobert. Derrick Favors is a defensive nightmare that allows Utah the defensive flexibility to rest Gobert, get big when they need to match up, go small when necessary, and can chase speedy stretch fours around the perimeter. Every championship contender requires a top tier guy who can sacrifice their own personal accolades so the team can take that additional step. If the Jazz ever win a championship, it will be a result of Derrick Favors unselfishness to take one for the team so they can soar a little higher.