The Utah Jazz’s breakup was swift — even from the inside.
“I was definitely shocked — I had been there for five years,” Royce O’Neale, who was the first Jazzman to be sent packing in their moves this summer, said when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets. “The team we had for a couple of years fell short. I thought we were going to build on it. Things happened, so keep it moving.”
But the end of the last era of Jazz basketball seems to be going well for most involved. This year’s Jazz are the toast of the NBA right now, having earned an incredible 6-3 record despite a pretty tough schedule. Many of the Jazz’s former players, too, are finding success.
We’ll go through each, analyzing how they’ve been deployed so far and how effective they’ve been.
The former Jazz star has been absolutely scintillating through the Cleveland Cavaliers’ early schedule.
After the Cavs lost fellow All-Star guard Darius Garland to an eye injury 13 minutes into their first game, Mitchell’s been asked to be the Cavs’ primary point guard. As a result, he’s averaging a career-high in assists, with 7.1 per game so far.
But even more impressively, he’s exploded off the page offensively. He’s scoring 31.1 points per game right now, good for fifth in the NBA behind Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ja Morant, and Kevin Durant. He’s scoring efficiently, too — he’s actually taking fewer shots per minute than he did in a Jazz uniform.
Even early returns on his defense have been solid. “I’ve seen a guy who’s willing to compete on the defensive end at a high level. I’ve seen a guy who’s willing to take challenges on that end of the floor,” his coach, J.B. Bickerstaff, told Cleveland.com on Sunday night.
The Cavaliers are 6-1, second in the Eastern Conference.
Gobert is having pretty close to his normal season alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, with a couple of downward trends that are worth watching.
Once again, he’s leading the NBA in rebounds with a whopping 14 per game. And once again, his team is hugely better defensively when he’s on the court: 10 points better per 100 possessions, in fact.
But the offense has been significantly worse with Gobert out there, too. And he’s recording his worst shooting percentages since his third season, just not finishing with as many emphatic dunks as we’re used to. (Some of this, it seems, is that the Wolves are feeding Gobert with more touches than the Jazz did.)
Minnesota is 4-3 so far, albeit with an easy schedule. That puts them in a tie for sixth in the West.
Bojan Bogdanovic has been excellent in a Detroit uniform — enough that the Pistons signed him to an extension this week so he would stick around longer.
It’s a 2-year, $39 million extension beyond his contract for this season. However, the second year of the deal, in 2024-25, is only guaranteed for $2 million. If further unspecified conditions are met, more of his contract becomes guaranteed. NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote that Bogdanovic’s ultimately successful quest for a contract extension may have reduced the number of suitors he had on the trade market for the Utah Jazz.
But he’s still very valuable. He’s currently third in the NBA in 3-point makes, trailing only Steph Curry and Buddy Hield — he’s shooting 50% from there in early season play. Besides that, much is the same as the Bogdanovic Jazz fans came to know and appreciate.
O’Neale plays for the most unnecessarily dramatic franchise in sports, the Brooklyn Nets.
He’s been a lone calm spot, though playing almost 37 minutes while letting his team’s stars do their thing on the court. His defensive hands have impressed, as you’d expect.
Offensively, he’s slightly more aggressive than he ever was in a Jazz uniform, but to negative results. After shooting 60% on 2-point shots last season, O’Neale is venturing inside the arc more this year, but shooting just 41% from there. He even played point guard for a few minutes in a recent Nets game.
It’s possible he could lose his starting spot to sharpshooter Joe Harris, but hasn’t yet as the Nets aren’t fully healthy. New head coach and former Jazz player Jacque Vaughn will likely have to choose between the two when (if?) Ben Simmons returns.
Danuel House Jr.
On the court, Danuel House Jr.’s role for the Philadelphia 76ers has been largely what you’d expect: he’s been a key bench cog for the Sixers, playing 16 minutes per night, and shooting mostly threes. He’s also expressed a desire to show the NBA that he’s “revamped his character” this season, after spending a significant part of last year out of the league entirely.
Perhaps the most newsworthy part of Danuel House Jr.’s season for the Philadelphia 76ers has been the team earning a tampering penalty associated with signing him. The Sixers were forced to forfeit their 2023 and 2024 second-round picks for communicating with free agent signings P.J. Tucker and House before they were officially out of contract on July 1.
The Jazz don’t receive any benefit, by the way, though House was under contract with Utah when the Sixers tampered. The team’s front office had little interest in bringing House back, anyway.
Juancho Hernangomez signed a 1-year, minimum contract with the Raptors this offseason, and has only played in three games — two of which were in garbage time. Point guard Trent Forrest signed a two-way deal with the Atlanta Hawks, and has also played three games, all at the end of games already decided.
Joe Ingles is with the Milwaukee Bucks, but is still out due to the ACL tear he suffered last January with the Jazz. He’s not anticipated to return soon, but still is learning what to say to Bucks fans at Fiserv Forum.
Eric Paschall also signed a two-way contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the team waived him before the season began to give Luka Garza the spot instead. He remains unsigned.
Hassan Whiteside had a good season with the Jazz last year, but he, too, remains unsigned. Clippers fans, especially, seem to be clamoring for the team to use its empty roster spot on Whiteside as the backup center, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Last year two-way man Xavier Sneed has found a home in the G League with the Greensboro Swarm. Jared Butler is reportedly headed to the G League, too, after the Jazz waived him before the season began.