ESPN Names All-Time Utah Jazz Starting Five
PSALT LAKE CITY, Utah – ESPN named the all-time Utah Jazz starting five. John Stockton, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, Karl Malone, and Rudy Gobert make up the list. The site’s team of writers unveiled the all-time starting lineup of each Western Conference team.
Stockton and Malone were guaranteed to make the list. As the article states, “The Jazz’s arena is located at the intersection of Stockton and Malone.” It’s unlikely any future Jazz players would overtake Stockton or Malone in an all-time ranking. Both Jazz legends were named to the ‘NBA’s 50 Greatest Players‘ list in 1996. In ESPN’s most recent rankings, both players made the top 30.
However, the other spots are very much up for debate.
“Pistol” Pete Maravich
ESPN’s writers selected “Pistol” Pete Maravich to fill the shooting guard void. Maravich, like Stockton and Malone, was named to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list. In ESPN’s latest rankings, he showed up at no. 68.
Maravich was a four-time All-NBA guard, including two selections on the NBA’s first team during his tenure with the Jazz. Additionally, Maravich was selected to five all-star games and led the league in scoring in 1977 at 31.1 ppg.
Maravich is known as one of the best shooters in league history despite playing without a three-point line for all but one season of his career. In his final year, the guard knocked down 10 of 15 attempts from behind the arc.
Unlike most players of yesteryear, Maravich’s game may be better suited for today’s game. With the reliance on shooting and his stellar passing ability, the guard would continue to be one of the league’s greatest showmen.
However, there is one major drawback to Maravich’s career. The guard rarely won. Just four of Maravich’s teams ever made the playoffs, and none occurred with the Jazz.
Other notable all-time Jazz guards: Jeff Hornacek, Donovan Mitchell, and Darrell Griffith.
Adrian Dantley is truly the lone elite small forward in Jazz history. The forward made six all-star games in seven seasons with the Jazz and led the league in scoring twice during the span.
In fact, there have only been six instances of Jazz players averaging better than 30 points per game for a season, and Dantley owns four of them.
In 2008, the forward was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, despite his scoring prowess, Dantley made just two All-NBA teams. Like Maravich, the forward experienced very little winning during his times with the Jazz. Dantley’s Jazz teams made just two trips to the playoffs before he was traded to Detroit.
Furthermore, the forward clashed with team owner Larry H. Miller and head coach Frank Layden who once fined Dantley “30 pieces of silver.”
Other notable all-time Jazz forwards: Andrei Kirilenko, Gordon Hayward, and Joe Ingles.
The center position is the only spot where the Jazz have never fielded a Hall of Famer. Throughout the ’90s, the Jazz sought a frontcourt mate for Malone hoping to finally push them over championship edge. However, that blessing never came. Thus, the franchise has a list of good, but never all-time caliber centers.
ESPN’s writer selected Gobert “over fellow dominant defensive anchor Mark Eaton because he’s a far superior offensive player and rebounder.”
To date, Gobert and Eaton have somewhat similar resumes. Both centers have one All-Star nod under their belt despite owning two Defensive Player of the Year awards. Eaton owns five All-Defensive team appearances to Gobert’s three. However, Gobert is a two-time All-NBA award winner, while Eaton never made the list.
Considering Gobert is just 27 years old, the same age Eaton was in his second NBA season, the Frenchman deserves the nod here. Gobert’s likely has several All-Defensive team selections ahead of him and may earn another DPOY before it’s all said and done.
Other notable all-time Jazz centers: Mark Eaton, Mehmet Okur, and Truck Robinson.
With the starting five in place, who would fill out the remaining all-time Jazz roster?
Rounding Out The Roster
At point guard, the decision is simple. Deron Williams would do marvelously as back up for Stockton. Though the guard only spent six seasons in Utah, Williams was selected to two All-Star teams and two All-NBA teams. Along with Chris Paul, Williams was considered the best point guard in the NBA during his final seasons with the Jazz.
At shooting guard, both Jeff Hornacek and Donovan Mitchell deserve a nod. Though Hornacek never made an All-Star game in a Jazz uniform, he was the missing piece that moved the Jazz from the list of good teams to true contenders.
Mitchell earned an All-Star bid in just his third season with the team, matching Malone for quickest in team history. Though It’s early in his career, Mitchell is the player most likely to displace any player in the starting five on the current list.
Backing up Dantley, Andrei Kirilenko may be the least decorated player to make the list. Kirilenko made just one All-Star game, was named to the All-Rookie team, and three All-Defensive teams. However, the forward’s versatile game would have continued to flourish had it not been for a series of injuries that derailed his career.
Kirilenko is one of just two players in NBA history (Hakeem Olajuwon) to record multiple 5×5 games and would have been a deadly fit in today’s game.
Carlos Boozer‘s career with the Jazz was admittedly tumultuous. Between injuries and ill-timed comments, Boozer never quite became a fan favorite in Utah. However, the forward made two All-Star games in Utah, earned an All-NBA bid, and won an Olympic Gold Medal.
Most importantly, he was a critical piece of the last Jazz team to make the Western Conference Finals. Boozer was far from perfect, but he was a proven scorer and helped the Jazz win games.
If Gobert owns the starting spot, the two reserve positions must go to Mark Eaton and Mehmet Okur. Though Eaton is a long shot to make the Hall of Fame, he’s found himself on the ballot in recent years. That alone should provide some understanding of Eaton’s talent. Like Eaton and Gobert, Okur was a one time All-Star with the Jazz.
The Turkish big man is one of the best shooters in team history and would have flourished into today’s game. Okur’s knack for clutch shooting made him a fan favorite. Had a ruptured Achilles not prematurely ended his career in Utah, Okur would likely be further up the team’s all-time players list.
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings