Who do the Utah Jazz think the best shooter on the roster is?

How ’Bout This Jazz newsletter: There’s lots of names bandied about, but ultimately one consensus choice. Plus, Will Hardy offers his players their first insight into his displeasure.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz shooting guard Malik Beasley, answers questions during the Utah Jazz Media Day, on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

It began with an innocuous comment from Collin Sexton on media day, wherein he was trying to convey the process of how a roster of newcomers who’ve never played with one another go about building cohesion and chemistry.

“Everybody here is ready to work — I feel like we try to beat each other into the gym, see who’s going to be the first one into the gym every morning; see who’s going to be able to knock down more shots today in the run,” he said. “We’re all competitive.”

That, however, begged a natural follow-up of who’s the best shooter. And that’s where the debate began.

“Honestly, I’m gonna put myself up against anybody!” Sexton replied, grinning wide. “That’s what I’m going to say.”

Malik Beasley, naturally, was incredulous.

“He picked himself?!” Beasley said, shaking his head in mock shock and disgust. “I’ll tell you right now, I’m the best shooter in this gym. I can promise you that. Anybody in this gym wants it, you can hear me now.”

Asked who was next-best after him, Beasley had a few choices.

“Second-best would probably be either J.C. [Jordan Clarkson] or … I don’t know. Simone [Fontecchio]’s pretty good — he lit it up today. He can shoot the ball,” Beasley said.

Still, with the challenge issued, I made it a point to ask most every player we talked to since the same: Who’s the best shooter on this team?

“I think everyone’s gonna say themselves,” Lauri Markkanen replied, laughing.

You might think so, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Multiple names were mentioned, but only one other player chose himself.

Meanwhile, a bit of a consensus on the top top guy started to emerge.

“We got a lot of guys who can shoot. But I’ll say MB — Malik,” said rookie Ochai Agbaji. “He’s been showing it.”

“Malik. Malik is the best shooter,” agreed Fontecchio. “I know he said the other day that I’m the second-best shooter, but we’ll see.”

“For sure Malik. He’s been really showing that he can space the floor and knock down treys — spot-up, off the dribble, and in the flow of the offense,” said Clarkson, who then rattled off a few other names. “Mike for sure. And probably me after that. But Kelly Olynyk can shoot the ball! Actually, Stanley Johnson has been knocking some shots down, too, in the scrimmages we’ve been playing. It’s a toss-up.”

As for the guy who chose himself?

Well that would be the same Mr. Markkanen who suggested everyone would pick themselves.

After first hedging a bit by being general (“We’ve got a lot of great shooters on the team”), then throwing some props to some teammates (”If you take Malik or Jordan or whoever, I think they can win on any given night”), I finally asked him straight-up if he was one of those guys who’d choose himself.

And he copped to it — with a gigantic caveat.

“Yeah. I’m confident,” Markkanen said. “I’m not gonna bet money on it! But I’m confident.”

The imperturbable Will Hardy

It’s been a process trying to get to know so many new people with the team — which extends beyond the players and to the coaching staff.

After four years of covering Quin Snyder, and interviewing some of the people who know him really well, I felt like I got to know him a bit too — certainly enough to tell when he was upset with something I’d written anyway. And as Jazz fans know, those death stares of his were pretty infamous.

Will Hardy, though, has been tough to read thus far. His media sessions have been a bit rote (aside from the occasional flash of personality), and even on the sideline, he appears pretty undemonstrative, aside from talking to Talen Horton-Tucker about the importance of ball movement. He’s been nondescript enough that I thought about Sexton talking about the qualities of a coach he enjoys — someone who will build him up when he needs it, but who will also yell at him when he deserves it — and wondered if Hardy even has the capacity for the latter in him.

Apparently, that is not an issue. When Beasley was asked one day if Hardy’s demeanor had changed at all since training camp started, he described a man pretty much in tune with Sexton’s wishes.

“Yes, he’s more in tune, cussing guys out — I didn’t know he had that in him!” Beasley said. “But he’s making sure everybody knows if you mess up, it’s OK, just get it back and learn from it.”