It says something about the Utah Jazz’s summer that Nickeil Alexander-Walker — part of the team since all the way back in February — is now one of the longest-tenured players on the roster.
For the moment, the Jazz have all of six players who’ve been on the team for at least one season: Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic joined in July 2019; Jordan Clarkson was acquired via trade in December of that year; Udoka Azubuike was drafted in November 2020; Jared Butler was a second-round pick in July of 2021; and the next month, they added Rudy Gay via free agency.
Like NAW, two-way signee Xavier Sneed has been with the team since February.
That means there are a ton of new faces with the Jazz now.
It already feels like a completely different team.
That said, it’s probably worth taking a quick look at all the new guys the team has brought in these past couple months.
The 23-year-old is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound combo guard. Known as “Young Bull,” he was the No. 8 overall pick by Cleveland in the 2018 NBA draft, out of Alabama. As part of the Mitchell deal, he comes to the Jazz on a four-year, $72 million deal. While some have criticized his passing and his defense, he’s got the ability to fill it up. He was looking like a breakout star in 2020-21, when he averaged 24.3 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds, shooting 47.5% from the field and 37.1% on 3s.
Probably the most talented player acquired in the Gobert deal, the 25-year-old Beasley has played six years in the NBA — the first 3.5 with the Nuggets, and the next 2.5 with the Wolves. At his best, the 6-4/187-pounder has been a guy who could score around 20 ppg and shoot upwards of 40% beyond the arc. At his worst, Beasley spent more than two months in a Minnesota jail for pointing a rifle at some people — an incident he acknowledges has given him a bad reputation he’s eager to fix.
Patrick Beverley, acquired in the Gobert deal, is a 34-year-old hoping to win a championship. So the Jazz re-routed him to the Lakers, with THT as the primary return. He’s already played three seasons in the NBA, and is still only 21 years old. He’s got a unique build at 6-4, 234, but has been an abominable 3-point shooter, at just 27.6% for his career. Still, he’s shown some playmaking chops and an ability to get to the rim. The hope is that with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he can progress beyond the mediocre defender he’s been to this point.
The former UCLA star had a sensational run in the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore, but didn’t show much progress as a junior, leading to him going undrafted and signing a two-way contract with the Jazz. He goes 6-5/209, and has a 6-11 wingspan. He didn’t show a ton in Summer League after getting into a car crash, but if he can show progress beyond the form he had during that NCAA run, he could get a shot.
After leading Kansas to the national title, the senior was projected to be a late lottery pick, and that’s where he landed, going 14th to the Cavs. He goes 6-5/215, is considered an aggressive and solid perimeter defender, and he averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds as a senior, while shooting 40.7% on 3s. Also, if you’re wondering how to pronounce his name, it’s “Oh-chai Uh-bah-gee.”
The Argentine has an impressive international résumé — playing pro ball at 16 years old before making his way to FC Barcelona. He was drafted 23rd overall in 2020, but didn’t make his way to the NBA until this past season, and he barely played. Just days away from turning 22 years old, the 6-6/200-pounder has an enviable skill set — he is a smart defender who gives effort on that end, and he’s a good dribbler, passer and playmaker. The one downside to his game? His bad shooting and poor finishing at the rim mean he’s not a scorer. At all.
“The Finnisher” (yes, he was born in Finland) played college ball at Arizona, then was drafted No. 7 overall by the Wolves in 2017 and immediately traded to the Bulls as part of that ill-fated Jimmy Butler deal. Last year, he signed a four-year deal as part of a three-team sign-and-trade. The 7-foot, 240-pounder wound up being part of a super-sized Cavs frontcourt, also featuring Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. The 25-year-old has averaged 15.4 points and 6.8 rebounds over five seasons. He shot 40.2% from 3 in the 2020-21 season, but is at 36.4% from deep overall.
Known as “V8″ for his nonstop motor, he’s already shown the ability to overcome adversity, bouncing back from breaking his left foot three times between high school and college. He’s also persevered as a pro, going from barely playing to starting most of the Wolves’ games last season. The 23-year-old goes 6-9/214, is a good rebounder (11.8 per 36 minutes for his career) and a switchable defender. If he takes a shot from more than 5 feet away from the hoop, it could be an adventure, though.
After sitting out the NBA free agent market, the Jazz eventually dipped their toes in the overseas pool with Fontecchio, signing him to a two-year deal worth $6.25 million. The 26-year-old Italian has played professionally in his home country, as well as in Spain and Germany. He is 6-8 and 209 pounds. He averaged 19.3 points for Italy in the 2020 Olympics. And this past season, playing for Spanish team Baskonia, he shot 41.0% on 3s in ACB league play, and 40.2% from deep in EuroLeague competition.
Like Markkanen, Johnson is a forward who is a former lottery pick (No. 8 overall in 2015) following a strong collegiate career at Arizona. His NBA career has been far more tumultuous, however. The 26-year-old, who was the other player involved in the Beverley-THT trade, had all but washed out of the league, on account of being less athletic than expected and a poor 3-point shooter (30.0%) for his career. After getting another shot as an emergency COVID replacement player, though, the 6-6, 242-pounder had some success with the Lakers — especially against the Jazz — playing as a four and small-ball five and earning his keep on defense.
The well-traveled veteran forward (he’s 27 now) is probably exceedingly unlikely to make the Jazz’s regular-season roster. After playing in lower-level leagues in the Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, he had a standout stretch with the Lakers’ G League affiliate, which he parlayed into a couple of 10-day contracts with the Suns as a COVID emergency roster filler. After starring for L.A.’s summer league team this year, he agreed to a 1-year deal with Utah, but the 6-8, 200-pounder looks more like a Salt Lake City Stars player than a Jazz one.
The only center on the roster right now besides Azubuike, the 7-1, 245-pounder was acquired in the Gobert trade after being drafted No. 22 overall this year. The 21-year-old set an NCAA record for highest block percentage (admittedly a stat that only goes back a dozen or so years) this past season, and will be counted on to help fill some of the defensive void for Utah. Offensively, he had a reputation as a stretch-five coming out of high school, but didn’t showcase that much at either North Carolina or Auburn.