The season is over for the Utah Jazz, ending the year with a 37-45 record and missing the playoffs for the first year since the 2015-16 season. They finish 12th in the West and 9th in the pre-lottery draft order.
While all eyes in Jazz land will turn to the draft where Utah has three selections to make come June, we’d be remiss if not to look back on a tremendous season.
What was intended as a pivot year after trading Gobert, Mitchell, and Bogdanovic over the offseason, most understood it to be a tanking year. The Jazz shocked the league with a 10-3 start to the season. They continued to outperform expectations through the trade deadline and All-Star weekend.
Lauri Markkanen became an All-Star and prospective All-NBA player. Walker Kessler solidified himself as a starting center in this league. Ochai Agbaji carved out a role and found his shot. Will Hardy proved himself a capable coach and elite motivator.
We saw plenty of new faces come and go along the way as well. Let’s put a bow on the year by sharing a stat for every player that suited up for the team. Stay with us, since 23 players suited up for the team this season:
I know it’s been well publicized, but Markkanen being the first player with 200+ threes and 100+ dunks in a season is tremendous. That contributed to a true shooting 6% above league average. That’s some true unicorn production.
Jordan posted his highest assist rate (20.9%) since his rookie year when he came off the bench half the time and averaged just 25 minutes. That’s remarked improvement from his previous seasons in the low-teens.
Kelly had his most efficient season by a pretty wide margin. He posted a 64% true shooting figure, his previous best being 62%. He’s settled nicely into a usage rate of 18% which suits him nicely.
Walker ended the year 16th in total blocks all-time for a rookie with 173. That put him ahead of amazing players like Pau Gasol, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, Dwight Howard, and more. Only one player ahead of him did so in fewer minutes: Mark Eaton in ‘82-’83.
When Malik played for the Jazz, the team was 27-28 and had a +0.8 point differential per 100 possessions. When on the court, the team was a -2.7 and a +5.1 with him off. As much as we loved Beasley, this was one of a handful of indicators suggesting his production didn’t correlate to winning.
Lauri wasn’t the only person dunking on the league. THT set a career high with 19 dunks this season. This with 14 games of being inactive or not playing, much of which due falling out of Hardy’s rotation.
Conley began to show some of his age this season. He attempted just 51 shots at the rim. Previous seasons? 61 last year, 74 the previous year, and 81 the year before. This will continue to mean fewer free throws and tougher shots that aren’t open 3’s.
After taking just 22 three point shots prior to this season, Vanderbilt was empowered under Will Hardy and demonstrated his confidence attempted 90 threes, hitting on 32%. These attempts were almost exclusively in the corner and in a catch and shoot fashion. Still, what a development in his game.
Ochai had a crazy season, going from out of the rotation to putting up 28 points leading a skeleton crew to a win over the Denver Nuggets in the home finale. Ochai ended the season shooting 35.5% from 3 and 81.2% from the line. The talent is there and he demonstrated some aptitude for movement shooting. Next season could be exciting for what he could do.
Prior to tearing his ACL, Collin posted 25.5 pts, 3.3 rbs, 4.6 ast on 57% true shooting per 100 possessions in 2020-21. This year, coming back from the ACL, Sexton put up 21.5 pts, 3.3 rbs, 4.4 ast on 62% true shooting. Using rate adjusted stats, Collin was 90% of what he was with better habits. Still a ways to go but spells good things for next year.
If we were to survey the fanbase on which version of Rudy Gay was better, last year or this year, I think the gut test would say this year. Yet nearly every metric says otherwise. Efficiency, rebounding, usage, etc., were all down. A reminder he has a player option for next year he’ll surely pick up.
Fontecchio made a big splash his first game of real minutes for Utah. Oct 26th against Houston, he went 3-5 from 3. It was rough shooting thereafter but in early March he started turning things around. He shot 37% from 3 on 104 attempts in his final 18 games.
Dunn was a revelation. Signed to a 10-day, he immediately made an impact earning a second 10-day contract. Ultimately he played so well to earn a non-guaranteed contract for next season. He’s been excellent, especially in his ability to finish in the paint. He shot 54% (41-76) on floaters with Utah.
Nickeil was a bit polarizing during his time with the Jazz and the stats bear that out. Despite hitting a high mark of nearly 20% assist rate, his turnover rate also ballooned to over 19%. The Jazz looked to develop his point guard skills and it never click all the way.
Dok did it! He lasted on the court for multiple weeks. It truly is monumental and shouldn’t be underappreciated. Azubuike suffered injuries both his first two seasons, rendering him unable to play more than 17 games. This season started shaky with Kessler earning the backup and ultimately starting job, but Udoka amassed an incredibly important 359 minutes in 36 games.
Toscano-Anderson landed with the Jazz along with Westbrook and Jones at the deadline. A forward with nice size and some pedigree with the Warriors presented a curious case. Despite shooting 36% from deep with Golden State, he cratered to earth this season shooting 17% with the Jazz (20% with the Lakers).
Jones came to Utah in the trade deadline deal that saw Vanderbilt and Beasley go to LA. Believe it or not, but Damian plan just 3 fewer games for the Jazz than he did for the Lakers. He bested just about every box score total with the Jazz than he put up during his Lakers tenure.
Johnny is the forgotten rookie, in a way. On a two-way contract in the G-League, we often forget he was a first year player like Ochai and Walker. In his first season, Juzang had a 60% 3PA rate but made just 24% (63 total attempts). A fairly underwhelming figure given he made 35% from deep and 85% from the line in college.
In just 7 games this season, Luka played 161 minutes. That’s 4x the amount he played as a rookie for the Spurs and half as many as he played as a sophomore in San Antonio. By most advanced metrics, he was far more productive and impactful with Utah, though small sample size is a consideration here.
Leandro’s time with Utah wasn’t too memorable outside of the reaction videos to his home country’s World Cup win in Qatar. He made just 3 total shots and attempted 0 free throws during his tenure.
Micah saw just 117 possessions on the floor this year. In such minutes, the Jazz had a 97.4 offensive rating. He often shared the floor with Damian Jones, Johnny Juzang, Ochai Agbaji, and Simone Fontecchio. Not exactly the pinnacle of offensive production.
The news of Jarrell’s 10-day contract (that ultimately stretched to two) was an exciting moment for many fans. Brantley showed remarked improvement since his last stint with the team, including improved form and confidence from 3. Out of his 14 shots, 9 were threes and he made 4.
If it felt like we never saw Frank, it’s because we only technically did. Despite suiting up for the SLC Stars all season, Frank found no action with the team until post-trade deadline. While with the team for multiple games, he only saw a total of 5 minutes in a single game, a let down for fans of his back to Lehi and Lone Peak High School days.