42. The Jazz Future With Miye Oni

Sep 8, 2021, 2:09 PM
Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz defends Rudy Gay (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...
Miye Oni of the Utah Jazz defends Rudy Gay (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just 42 days from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number 42, the development and future of guard Miye Oni.

The Jazz Future With Miye Oni

Oni enters his third season with the Jazz having outgrown the title as the team’s youngest guard project, but also lacks a clearly defined role on the roster.

Leaving Yale, Oni was drafted by the Jazz with the third to final pick in the second round and signed a three-year, partially guaranteed contract before his rookie season.

Over his first two seasons with the Jazz, Oni has averaged 2.2 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.5 assists while shooting 36 percent from the floor and 34 percent from the three-point line.

The guard has developed a reputation as a potential defensive stopper on the perimeter due to his 6-foot-6 height and superb 6-foot-10 wingspan, though the discussion of Oni’s potential as a defender has generally outweighed its practice.

Rather than playing with the Jazz summer league roster alongside fellow third-year players Jarrell Brantley and Juwan Morgan, Oni represented the Nigerian National Team at the Toyko Olympics where he became a fixture in the team’s rotation.

Whereas Oni once represented a developmental piece in the Jazz long-term future, the team’s championship timeline, salary cap and roster crunch, and depth in the backcourt have accelerated the timeline for the former Yale product to prove he can produce on an NBA team.

Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell are entrenched as the team’s starters for at least the next two seasons, while Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson are set to man the reserve guard spots for the upcoming year.

Behind those four proven NBA veterans, Oni is joined by second-year guard Trent Forrest who signed a two-way contract deal with the Jazz and is coming off an excellent summer league performance, rookie Jared Butler who many projected to be a late lottery pick before dropping to the second round, and undrafted rookie MaCio Teague who will also be competing for a two-way contract or guaranteed roster spot.

Further complicating the issue for Oni is that his contract is only guaranteed through January, making him a candidate to be waived mid-season, if not sooner should the organization decide he’s not in their long-term plans.

That isn’t to say however that the guard couldn’t carve out a promising role in the Jazz rotation. With his excellent size and athleticism, Oni has a legitimate edge over each of the previously mentioned guards on the defensive end, including Conley, Mitchell, Ingles, and Clarkson.

Only Forrest rivals Oni’s combination of size and length but still trails the veteran by nearly two inches in both categories. Furthermore, Oni has shown potential as a three-point shooter knocking down the deep ball at a 15 percent better rate than Forrest.

But, despite his size and athleticism, Oni lacks the playmaking and ball skills that every other player in the team’s backcourt possesses which may force him to compete for more minutes in the Jazz’s frontcourt, rather than as a guard.

With an impressive frame, a willingness to defend, and some traits as a three-point shooter, there is room in the NBA for a player like Oni should his skillset continue to develop.

The level to which Oni grows on the floor, and how much of an opportunity he gets to show it with the Jazz is one of the 50 most exciting storylines for the team entering opening night.

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42. The Jazz Future With Miye Oni