History Of Utah Jazz End-Of-Season Award Winners
May 25, 2021, 4:22 PM | Updated: Apr 24, 2023, 5:32 pm
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Despite being one of the smaller franchises in the NBA, the Utah Jazz are surprisingly well accomplished in their three-decade-long history.
From two trips to the NBA Finals to multiple end-of-season award winners, the Jazz have left their mark on NBA history.
Here’s a look back at every major end-of-season award the Jazz have won since moving to Utah in 1979.
1981 Darrell Griffith – Rookie of the Year
Darrell Griffith, aka Dr. Dunkenstein, won the Rookie of the Year award for the Jazz in 1981. Drafted number two overall in the 1980 NBA draft, he’s the only Jazz player to ever earn the honor.
In his rookie season, Griffith averaged 20.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while filling the Salt Palace with excitement thanks to his electrifying dunks.
Saw what @E_Woodyard said about Darrell Griffith and thought I'd dig up a few Dr. Dunkenstein gems. Wish I had time to dig up more but here you go Jazz fans! (The last one…. 😱!)#TakeNote l #NBA l @KSLSports https://t.co/DkywtfI71C pic.twitter.com/SWBCXWv7Cn
— Sam Farnsworth (@Samsworth_KSL) March 5, 2021
1984 Frank Layden – Coach of the Year, Executive Of the Year, Citizenship Award
It was a busy year for coach Frank Layden in 1984. After taking over the Jazz in 1981, Layden led the team from 17 wins, to 30 wins, to 45 wins in just his third season.
As a reward, Layden was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year and remains the only member of the Jazz organization to earn those honors.
Layden was also awarded the NBA’s Citizenship Award for his off-the-court philanthropy.
May 8, 1984: With the @utahjazz facing elimination Frank Layden gives his team this speech in the locker room. Adrian Dantley had 46 and Rickey Green had 23 points and 14 assists in a 118-106 win in Game 5. #KSLSportsArchive #NBA pic.twitter.com/q8Fw2mapPo
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JeremiahJensen) May 8, 2020
1985 & 1989 Mark Eaton – Defensive Player of the Year
Helping eschew in a new era of basketball alongside John Stockton and Karl Malone, Mark Eaton became the first Jazz player since Darrell Griffth to earn an end-of-season award.
The Man Mountain was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 after averaging a league-record 5.6 blocks per game, and again in 1989 while averaging 3.8 blocks per game.
Mark Eaton highlights from 1992 set to “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John? Yes, Please. http://t.co/7juDcy8ocP #KSLarchive
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JeremiahJensen) May 9, 2015
1989 Thurl Bailey – Citizenship Award
In 1989, reserve forward Thurl Bailey became the second Jazzman to earn the NBA’s Citizenship Award after Frank Layden won the award in 1984.
Bailey earned the award for his work in the Utah community
May 6, 1988: Karl Malone scored 38, John Stockton 23 points, 10 assists and Thurl Bailey 26 off the bench as the @utahjazz beat the Trail Blazers 111-96 to clinch the series 3-1. Stay for the Frank Layden quote at the end about playing the Lakers next. #KSLSportsArchive #NBA pic.twitter.com/4QxQNvOEQV
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JeremiahJensen) May 6, 2020
1997 & 1999 Karl Malone – MVP
The league’s most prestigious award so far has been reserved for the greatest player in Jazz history.
Karl Malone was named the MVP in 1997, averaging 25.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists while leading the Jazz to their first NBA Finals appearance.
Malone earned the honors once again in 1999 while leading to a share of the best record in the NBA at 37-13 during the lockout-shortened season.
May 19, 1997: On this night 23 years ago #NBA commissioner David Stern gave Karl Malone the 1997 MVP Trophy in front of @utahjazz fans. Karl beat Michael Jordan by just 29 points in the voting to earn his first MVP award. #KSLSportsArchive #takenote @mamail pic.twitter.com/6XSBlXrgJG
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JeremiahJensen) May 20, 2020
2018 & 2019 Rudy Gobert – Defensive Player of the Year
Following in the shoes of Mark Eaton, Rudy Gobert is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner.
Gobert became the Jazz’s first back-to-back end-of-season award winner, averaging 2.3 blocks and 12 rebounds over the two award-winning seasons.
"If I would have been told 15 years ago that I would be here I probably wouldn't believe it" Rudy Gobert thanks Jazz fans and the organization in his acceptance speech for #nba Defensive Player of the Year Award. #NBAAwards #utahjazz pic.twitter.com/WehCuKgtLZ
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JeremiahJensen) June 26, 2018
2021 Jordan Clarkson – Sixth Man of the Year
Jordan Clarkson etched his name into Jazz history by becoming the first player in franchise history to earn the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Clarkson led all bench scorers in the NBA averaging 18.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for the Jazz, helping lead the team to the best record in the NBA for the first time in franchise history.
Joe Ingles hands Jordan Clarkson the #KiaSixth Man of the Year trophy 🎶 pic.twitter.com/pamxUATDqb
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 24, 2021
2021 Rudy Gobert – Defensive Player of the Year
After a one-year hiatus, Gobert again took home the Defensive Player of the Year award, earning the honor for the third time in four seasons.
Gobert led the NBA in raw plus-minus at +728, ranked second in blocks per game at 2.7, and second in rebounds per game at 13.5.
Rudy gets a surprise at his locker—his third DPOY trophy.
Full episode drops on Utah Jazz YouTube tomorrow #JazzAllAccess | @VivintHome pic.twitter.com/hdYx2UjSXV
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) June 10, 2021
2023 Lauri Markkanen – Most Improved Player Award
Lauri Markkanen became the first Jazz player to win the Most Improved Player Award after seeing a dramatic increase in production during his first season in Utah.
The Finnish forward averaged a career-high 25.6 points, to go with 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the floor and 39 percent from the three-point line.
Lauri Markkanen is the first @utahjazz player to take home the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
Congrats Finnisher!!!#TakeNote https://t.co/MUBNhKGsN7
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) April 24, 2023
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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.
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