Tony Jones, one of the Tribune’s Utah Jazz beat reporters, will answer questions submitted on Twitter each week in his Jazz mailbag. Here are this week’s questions and answers.
This is a great question. Last year’s team was a little more consistent. Gordon Hayward and George Hill were very, very good. Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles were steady and offered shooting. Rudy Gobert was great in an All-NBA type of season.
But as good as last season’s team was, this current Jazz team has displayed a higher ceiling. It’s more explosive. And it just may be a little better equipped to challenge the best two teams in the Western Conference than the Hayward-led teams.
Hayward was sensational all-around last season. Rookie Donovan Mitchell hasn’t hit that consistent do-it-all level. That being said, Mitchell has become a better closer than Hayward ever was. That matters. And as great as Gobert was last season, he’s been even better during these last 20 games. Add in an improved Ingles, and I would probably take this current Jazz team over last year.
Mehmet Okur would’ve been a perfect stretch center in today’s NBA. Plus, he had that old-school toughness. He wasn’t a rim protector by any stretch, but he would have been a very, very valuable player in today’s NBA. On the other end, it would’ve been difficult for Ronnie Brewer to even be an NBA player today. He survived 10 years ago because of his athleticism and defense. But the lack of a jump shot would’ve done him in.
The Jazz certainly want to temper expectations. There’s room for Dante Exum in the rotation at backup point guard, but it all depends on his reintegration — how he handles soreness, what his conditioning level is like, things like that. He does give the Jazz a shot of athleticism on their second unit, and they need that. But there still are many variables at play.
The DPOY race has been quiet since Roberson went down; with Horford, Embiid, and PG being floated as candidates. The Jazz have been dominant defensively since Rudy's return, and I haven't heard him mentioned much as a candidate. Can he win DPOY having missed 26 games? #TonyTalks— bebop (@bebopxz) March 12, 2018
I think he should. I don’t think Rudy Gobert has been the best defensive player in the NBA this season. I think Gobert’s been far and away the best defensive player in the NBA this season. It hasn’t been close. He changes how teams play offensively, and he’s the only player in the league capable of that. So even with the 26 missed games, I think he should be the NBA’s DPOY.
I think it helps significantly. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are bonafide stars, and barring injury should be All-Stars in the years to come. They both are young, selfless, team-oriented players. And they have a terrific front office and coach around them. Utah always has been a taboo place for free agents. But the Jazz probably have their best two recruiting pieces ever when you factor in era, charisma, personality and the fact that you no longer have to be in a big market to earn big endorsements.
I’m not sure I agree with that. By no means are the Jazz a transition team, but they do take advantage of numbers when they have it, especially with Ricky Rubio at the helm. They don’t always make it their business to push the ball and try to create numbers, but they certainly attack in transition when numbers present themselves.
As long as Ricky Rubio plays like he’s been playing, he’ll be the starting point guard. He’s earned that right. If Dante Exum stays healthy and plays well, there’s certainly a chance the keys are turned over to him by the end of next season, and the Jazz definitely see him as a key piece to their future. But I think for as long as Rubio is in a Jazz uniform, he will be the starter.