30. Jazz Opening Night Vs. Favors, Thunder

Sep 20, 2021, 2:28 PM | Updated: 2:34 pm
Oklahoma City Thunder center Derrick Favors (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)...
Oklahoma City Thunder center Derrick Favors (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just one month 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 30, a preview of opening night.

Jazz Opening Night Vs. Favors, Thunder

In a bit of cruel irony, the Jazz will match up with longtime fan and locker room favorite Derrick Favors on opening night.

Favors helped oversee a total Jazz rebuild after the departure of Deron Williams before being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans to clear room for Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in 2019. Then, after resigning with the Jazz in 2020, he was traded to the Thunder to trim the team’s luxury tax bill in July.

The Thunder are in the midst of one of the most ambitious rebuilds in NBA history, taking on other teams’ unwanted contracts along with additional draft capital. With Favors, the Jazz sent the Thunder a future first-round pick and received a second-round pick in return.

Opening night will mark the debut of Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall, and rookie Jared Butler for the Jazz. The team signed both Gay and Whiteside as free agents while acquiring Pascall and Butler via trade.

Gay will step into the role left absent by forward Georges Niang, while Whiteside will be tasked with filling Favors shoes. Paschall and Butler will compete for a spot in the rotation throughout the year.

The Thunder meanwhile underwent a mini-overhaul trading veteran Al Horford to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Kemba Walker and the 16th overall pick in the draft. Oklahoma City quickly bought out Walker after the trade who went on to sign with the New York Knicks.

Additionally, the Thunder added Australian Josh Giddey and Florida guard, Tre Mann, in the first round of the draft.

Opening night will also mark a rematch of Donovan Mitchell and Lu Dort, one of the most exciting head-to-head matchups in the NBA last season.

The two players have faced off four times in their careers splitting the meetings two games apiece.

Mitchell has averaged 20.3 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds against the Thunder in the four meetings while Dort has averaged 20.5 points, 1.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds against Mitchell.

Neither player dressed for the two teams’ final matchup in May last season.

The Jazz and Thunder will open their seasons one month from today, and makes our list at number 30 of the top 50 storylines heading into opening night.

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30. Jazz Opening Night Vs. Favors, Thunder