Stockton, Griffith, Mitchell Top List Of Best Jazz Guards
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s the silly season if you are a Utah Jazz fan. That is why the Jazz Notes podcast is entertaining your ears (and eyes) by picking the Utah Jazz Top 5 All-Time at each position heading into the 2019-2020 regular season.
Yes, you might get up way too early to watch how Donovan Mitchell plays with Team USA in the FIBA Basketball World Cup or check out the box scores of how Joe Ingles fairs with Austrailia or Rudy Gobert with France.
In reality, we are all just biding our time as we get ready for one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history.
Host of the podcast Cleon Wall set up some arbitrary rules for the list:
- Players needed to play for the Utah Jazz for at least two seasons
- Each nominee needed to predominantly play at their particular position for the majority of his career (which now seems a bit weird in an era of positionless basketball)
Sam Farnsworth, KSL Sports contributor, was nostalgic in nominating his top shooting guard, hearkening back to his boyhood days as a Jazz fan.
“I love Darrell Griffth,” said Farnsworth. “He was my first favorite Jazz player as a kid…I remember in elementary school during our art time doodling a picture of Darrell Griffith shooting a 3-pointer and I drew a rainbow behind the ball to the hoop.”
But Farnsworth went beyond fond remembrances to back up his vote for the Golden Griff.
“He was in the dunk contest, he was (NBA) Rookie of the Year. He adapted his game to become a shooter when he couldn’t quite jump anymore. (Griffith) became a very good shooter and was the Jazz All-Time 3-point shooter,” he defended.
Griffith averaged 21.4 points a game in his first five NBA seasons before a foot injury derailed his career. Farnsworth believed Griffith’s value went way beyond stats.
“He was a lifelong Jazz player, he was a solid contributor for a majority of that time frame and he helped that team become a perennial playoff (team),” said Farnsworth.
He also admitted that Griffith will probably be surpassed by fellow Louisville alum Donovan Mitchell in the near future. That’s whom Wall voted for as his top shooting guard, even though “Spida-Mitchell” has only played in the NBA for two seasons.
“I don’t think there is another shooting guard who has come through this organization who has had so much pressure on him,” Wall said. “And (Mitchell) is embracing it.”
Wall always pined for the Jazz to have an elite 2-guard since watching Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant dominate the position. Mitchell may not be at the same level as “his Airnes” and the “Black Mamba”, but Wall is happy Utah finally has their guy.
“(Mitchell) has averaged over 20 points a game in his first 2 seasons (20.5 in his rookie campaign and 23.5 last season)…he led the Jazz to a playoff victory in his first season even though he struggled against the Rockets this past season…Down the road it’s going to be a no brainer, it’s going to be Donovan Mitchell (as the best shooting guard) and maybe I’m going on a futures bet right now. That’s why I have him number one.”
Bobby Hansen’s hair received an honorable mention.
In an earlier Jazz Notes podcast, Jeremiah Jensen, KSL Sports contributor and Wall nominated their Top 5 point guards.
There was no argument between the two over John Stockton. The all-time assists leader has a statue in front of Vivint Smarthome Arena.
The guys disagreed with number two.
“I think it is obvious. It’s Deron Williams,” said Wall. “He took over as a starter in his rookie season. He lead the team to the Western Conference finals in his second season…He averaged 19 points and 11 assists in his 3rd, 4th and 5th seasons and was putting up 21-10 in his 6th season and was then traded away to the New Jersey Nets.”
Wall admitted some fans may not like the pick after his tiff with former Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, but didn’t think there was any competition for Jazz second-best point guard all-time. Jensen came close to voting for Williams but instead went for a guy who only played 17 games in Salt Lake City.
“I’m going to go Pete Maravich number two,” Jensen said. “When he was with the New Orleans Jazz, he was a multiple (time) All-star, he was one of the best and most flashy players in the league. He was an incredibly gifted scorer and passer.”
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Wall didn’t even consider “Pistol Pete” because he played such a short time in Salt Lake City (he didn’t tell Jensen before the podcast to only focus on guys who played for the Utah Jazz and not the New Orleans Jazz).
Even though Maravich averaged 25.2 points and 5.6 assists with the Jazz, Wall thought there was another knock against him.
“He was a flashy player, but I’m not sure how much of a team player he actually was. His team did not win a lot while he was in the NBA. Maybe that is a little bit of his fault, but maybe it was a bit of the team’s fault, too.”
Listen to the podcasts below to find out how Jeremiah, Sam and Cleon rounded out their top 5.
The Jazz Notes podcast drops at least weekly and can be found at KSLSports.com, the KSL Newsradio app, Apple Podcasts or other podcast providers.