Utah Jazz Mailbag: What Insight Do We Have On Ryan Smith?

Jan 23, 2024, 3:48 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2024, 12:19 pm

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and guard Jordan Clarkson...

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and guard Jordan Clarkson (Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag: Today, we take a look at franchise owner Ryan Smith.

Each week we will send out a prompt on KSL Sports ThreadsInstagramX, and Facebook pages asking for the questions you have about the Jazz.

Then, we’ll respond to as many as we can in that week’s mailbag.

Jazz Mailbag: Can You Offer Insight On Ryan Smith?

Question: How do you like ownership, any insight?

A: Cpres, thanks for your question, and it’s not something I’ve addressed before in the mailbag.

Because I am not friends with the players, coaches, or front-office members that I cover, likability has nothing to do with how well I think they perform their job.

But, on a personal level, when I have talked with Jazz owner Ryan Smith he has always treated me kindly and been generous with his time and information, which is more than he owes me, so I have appreciated that.

Now, how do I think he has performed as an owner? That’s a more nuanced question.

Having only run the team since January of 2021, it’s far too early to grade his tenure, especially considering how tumultuous the last three years have been with the departures of Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, Quin Snyder, and Dennis Lindsey.

We are only now beginning to see the residuals from those moves, and still, it’s too early to call them a success or a failure.

Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler have been two clear wins in the Smith era. And, replacing a high-level coach in Snyder with another high-level coach in Will Hardy was a significant step in the right direction.

But, how the rest of the young players develop, what future trades are made with their enormous cache of draft assets, and how quickly Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik can realize their hopes for the franchise will all give us a fuller view of how well Smith’s ownership has panned out.

As for insight, I will tell you that Smith’s pain threshold as the team owner is enormously high, and I think that’s a good trait.

In an interview on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone, Smith told Scott Garrard and Hans Olsen that,  “I just want to bring [Jazz fans] a championship. That’s it — the amount of effort that we’ll go through, or pain, or noise to get a parade is pretty, pretty incredible.”

Within four months of saying that both Gobert and Mitchell had been traded, and Snyder has resigned as the team’s head coach.

As difficult as those moves were, I would caution Jazz fans, there could always be more suffering on the horizon.

Smith has an all-in type of personality, meaning I don’t think he is going to take shortcuts with the roster just for temporary pain relief. I would not rule out taking more steps backward if he and the Jazz front office thought it got them closer to the ultimate goal of winning an NBA title.

This is a significantly different strategy from owners like Mat Ishbia in Phoenix who within two months of buying the Suns, traded all their assets for Kevin Durant, and then doubled down by acquiring Bradley Beal to mixed results.

My guess is that Ishbia and the Suns will end up regretting that impatience in the coming seasons, while Smith and the Jazz will enjoy the real estate they’ve given themselves to execute their strategy.

Smith’s strategy requires more patience and a higher up-front pain tolerance, but it also might yield higher results.

It may not work, but that has been Smith’s plan all along, and so far, his actions have matched his words.

Q: Will Keyonte George be an All-Rookie First-Team selection at the end of the season?

A: Two months into the season this seemed like a no-brainer yes, but as of late January, I’m leaning towards no if the Jazz roster stays as constituted.

First, it’s important to remember that All-Rookie teams are not determined by position, but simply based on the five best rookies according to the league’s coaches.

Let’s assume that Victor Wembanyama (SAS), Chet Holmgren (OKC), and Jaime Jaquez (MIA) are all locks for the team.

That leaves two first-team slots to be filled by some combination of Keyonte George, Brandon Miller, Dereck Lively II, Brandin Podziemski, Ausar Thompson, Jordan Hawkins, and Scoot Henderson.

The difficult battle for George is that while some rookies on non-playoff teams may see their minutes increase, he may see his role dip as it did in Houston where he didn’t play in the second half against the Rockets.

With that said, it’s important to remember that George is roughly a full year younger than Podziemski, Thompson, and Miller, two years younger than Holmgren and Hawkins, and almost three years younger than Jaquez.

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The only first-year players on track to make the All-Rookie team who are younger than George are Wembanyama who is two months younger, and Lively II and Hendeson who are both three months younger.

Remember, in 2017 Malcolm Brogdon was named Rookie of the Year and made the All-Rookie first-team after playing four years of college basketball at Virginia.

But nobody would take him over 20-year-old all-rookie second team members Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, or Brandon Ingram

Want to ask questions in next week’s mailbag? Give us a follow @kslsports. If you submitted a question and it didn’t get answered here, listen to this week’s edition of the Jazz Notes podcast (located in the player above) where we answered more of your questions.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

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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Utah Jazz Mailbag: What Insight Do We Have On Ryan Smith?