It’s strange, seeing regular praise for the Utah Jazz from national writers. We fans read of a lot of nice things from blogs in the off-season. But as this season as gone on, and the pre-season hype turned into regular season wins, we are seeing even the biggest names in basketball reporting making sure to mention Utah. The Jazz are getting love in power rankings, Gordon Hayward is an All-Star, and not the war drums are beating for Rudy Gobert as a possible 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.
Dennis Lindsey has brought together a lot of talent, and Quin Snyder is getting most of these guys to fit together as a cohesive unit despite the addition of three rotation players from out of the program (George Hill, Joe Johnson, and Boris Diaw), and all the crazy injuries (which still persist).
The people over at the “Worldwide Leader” decided to list their best young NBA Players: twenty five players under twenty five years of age!
This panel comes to the conclusion that the Top 5 players are: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), and Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks). Most of these guys are young, stud, bigmen. I like to think that Utah has one as well. And yes, the ESPN IN$IDER article does praise some of our Jazzmen.
#7: Rudy Gobert (Age 24)
The current gold standard in defensive bigs in the league, Gobert's place on the list speaks to his dominance on that end of the floor. Regardless of the metric, he rates near the top in the league in terms of defensive contribution.
In addition to the traditional paint patrolling we expect from our dominant defensive bigs, Gobert has shown aptitude moving his feet and using his length out on the perimeter on switches.
Offensively, he knows where his bread is buttered as a hyper-efficient finisher around the basket, and that's all you really need to demand from a player of his caliber defensively -- to catch and finish. -- Elhassan
It’s nice that he’s Top 10, but as he’s getting ‘up there in age’, I can understand how guys younger than him who also play center have a higher ranking (like the 21 year old Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) -- but time will tell which guy is going to end up being the bigger force in the paint). For what it is worth, the #27 pick Gobert is ahead of a loo-ooot of guys who were drafted ahead of him. That may not matter to you, but it does matter to the guy who wears #27 on his uniform.
#22: Rodney Hood (Age: 24)
Hood's value is somewhat depressed by his playing on a team with several competent wing players.
At 6-foot-8, he holds a considerable size advantage, and excels at using his length and stride to create space offensively and close space defensively.
This is his last year of eligibility on the Under 25 list, and he might just end up just a high-level role player. Good teams need players like Hood and being closer to what your potential is should not be a demerit. -- Elhassan
Hood, who was selected #23, is another guy who was overlooked by a lot of General Managers. There are a few wings who are ahead of him — and those guys have more overall athleticism than Rodney. I can’t fight that. Rodney does occasionally thrown down a great dunk that no one expected. But he’s just too streaky to be a Top 20 guy on this list that’s oozing with potential.
The ESPN Insiders did give a few votes to some other Jazzmen, so I guess this is the honorable mentions: Enes Kanter, and Dante Exum. I think that the Jazz have a great mix of youth and experience now and if they can stay healthy, are going to be lined up for their first trip to the NBA Playoffs in a long time.
I do like Gobert and Hood. But I do hope to see Exum ascend in the next few years though. He could be a piece that really helps put the Jazz out of the “good team” into “contending team” range. And that’s the beauty of potential . . . it allows us to dream. For teams facing Gobert, Hood, and the rest of the Jazz this season, it looks like a nightmare for them this spring.