UTAH JAZZ

Utah Jazz Wish Forward Royce O’Neale Happy 29th Birthday

Jun 5, 2022, 12:01 PM
Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)...
Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz celebrated forward Royce O’Neale on social media as the fifth-year player enjoyed his 29th birthday.

O’Neale was born on June 5, 1993 in Killeen, Texas.

O’Neale has proven himself to be a valuable member of the Utah Jazz since joining the franchise prior to the 2017-18 NBA season.

The 6-4, 215 pound forward began his college career with two seasons for the University of Denver before transferring to Baylor in 2013. In two seasons with the Bears, O’Neale averaged just 8.5 points per game, hardly the scoring numbers of a future NBA starter. O’Neale did showcase his all-around skills in Waco, averaging 5.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 47 percent overall and 43.8 percent from three in his senior season.

Undrafted in 2015, O’Neale spent two years overseas with MHP Reisen Ludwigsburg and Herbalife Gran Canaria. Playing just under 20 minutes per game while averaging 8.3 points and and 4.9 rebounds, O’Neale developed his body and his game.

O’Neale caught on with the Jazz at a free agent tryout during the summer of 2017. A training camp battle with former Weber State forward Joel Bolomboy saw O’Neale win a spot in what was expected to be a watch and learn role, where he thrived.

 

In 69 games with the Jazz in 2017-18, O’Neale’s hard-nosed defense and willingness to do his job earned him playing time. The rookie forward averaged 16.7 minutes per game, pulling down 3.4 rebounds and scoring five points per game along the way.

In 2018-19 O’Neale solidified his spot in Quin Snyder’s rotation when he played in all 82 games, starting 16 times.

Stepping into a full-time starting position prior to the 2019-20 season, O’Neale was asked how he anticipated his role changing, “I don’t,” O’Neale quickly responded. He would go on to start 62 of the 71 games he played in 2019-20 and has started all 148 games since that time

Maintaining his own consistency has been critical for O’Neale and the Jazz in recent seasons. O’Neale has shot better than 43 percent each year since he was a rookie while his three-point shot topped out at 38.9 percent last season.

Routinely tasked with defending the opponents best offensive perimeter player, O’Neale has been irreplaceable in Snyder’s defense. In 2021-22, O’Neale provided 1.1 steals per game to a turnover starved Jazz defense.

O’Neale is under contract with the Jazz for three more seasons on a 4-year, $36 million extension he signed in January of 2020.

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