The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden gathers insights about the Utah Jazz each week. Sign up for the newsletter here.
As a group of Jazz beat writers were on the ZBBC court for Wednesday’s shootaround, watching various players hoist up 3s, we initiated a low-key debate: Who’s the best shooter on the Utah Jazz?
There are seemingly many candidates, given the historically prolific and efficient shooting exploits of this roster. Joe Ingles is the self-proclaimed best shooter on the planet, though he’s having a bit of a down year from 3 (36.7% as of Thursday). Bojan Bogdanovic has a rep as a pure shooter, and is at 39.1%. Mike Conley is having a second straight career-year behind the arc, with a team-leading 42.9%. Royce O’Neale is at 40.5%.
We had our own theories, of course, but we also wanted to ask the Jazz players selected for that day’s media session.
Eric Paschall gave a very diplomatic non-answer.
“Depends on the situation. It really depends,” he said. “Like, Bogey has his own 3, in transition on the high quad[rant]. Don’s very good on ball screens, Mike’s very good on ball screens. Royce, catch and shoot, Joe, catch and shoot. Bojan in the corner. Rudy Gay, top of the key. JC, he can make any shot. So it really depends what you’re asking for.”
Mike, however, was more game.
First off, in discussing his own shooting, he raised eyebrows by noting that he thought he should be shooting well above his almost-43% clip.
“I do! I honestly don’t think I should miss,” he said. “I really do [believe that] — unless it’s a tough shot or something. If I have a good look, I’m very angry if it doesn’t go in.”
Then, when queried about who’s the best, he gave a definitive answer — and didn’t choose himself.
“Man … well, in my opinion, I think Bojan. I think Bojan. We all just love watching him shoot,” Mike said. “But we’ve got so many good shooters, I think any day of the week somebody could come out being the champion that day. But my favorite is Bojan right now.”
Speaking of which, we noted that by the time we’re allowed in to watch the end of a practice or shootaround, we pretty much never see Bogey on the court. So, naturally, he must be so innately talented he can just roll out of bed and start draining 3s, right?
“He never shoots! He’s that good,” Mike teased. “No, he comes in early. He’s normally in when I’m in. Before shootaround, we work out — he’ll work out on one goal, I’ll be on another one, and JC will be in there working out as well.”
Still, when another joke was made about Bogey’s natural ability, Mike expressed faux frustration that he puts in so much more work, but still isn’t as good: “Trust me, I shoot a lot more than him!”
Paging Marc Gasol?
The point guard provided another mouth-gaping highlight of the media session when he was asked about his old Memphis Grizzlies running mate, Marc Gasol, recently commenting from Spain that “the door is not closed” on a potential NBA comeback.
Mike was then asked if he’d been in contact with the 37-year-old former DPOY who played for the Lakers last year about his intentions, and revealed that he had — when the Jazz were simultaneously missing centers Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside, Udoka Azubuike, and even hardship signee Norvel Pelle (plus small-ball 5 Rudy Gay).
“I texted him when we had no bigs. I said, ‘If you want to come back, man, this is the time. We have no big men,’” Mike said. “He’s happy, man, he’s happy. I don’t know if he’ll return or not, but I told him the invitation is out there. And if he wants to make [a comeback], I think he’d be welcome here in Utah.”
Collectors (and drinkers) alert: Utah Jazz beer cans
If you’re a consumer of alcoholic beverages or merely a collector of … um, collectibles, this news might be of interest to you: The Jazz were one of 18 NBA teams to get a uniquely designed, limited-edition can of Michelob Ultra, “the official beer of the NBA.”
The 18 designs come from four artists, with the Jazz’s done by by Sophia Chang. The cans are available at participating local retailers as of this past Monday.
An interview with Holly Rowe
The “How ‘Bout This Jazz” podcast welcomes a special guest: the one and only Holly Rowe.
She’s an Emmy-nominated journalist who’s covered sports both in Utah and nationally for decades. From being a sports writer at the Daily Utah Chronicle to calling and reporting at major events on ESPN, Holly has been and continues to be a staple of sports journalism.
Find the HBTJ podcast at sltrib.com/podcasts/bout_jazz/