The Utah Jazz have a rich history of basketball talent. Several of their top all-time players have been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. Several other players, while not all-time greats, left a big mark on the franchise. I’ll start with easily the two best players in Jazz franchise history, Karl Malone and Jeff Stockton, who are interchangeably first and second in most Utah career statistical categories.
Karl Malone is largely regarded as the best power forward in NBA history. His prototypical power forward body type allowed him to dominate underneath the basket. But his agility out on the floor propelled him to superstar status. His ability to run the pick and roll with Stockton made the Jazz offense unstoppable. I liked Malone’s ability to pound the ball to the rim on one play and hit his graceful jumper on the next. Malone scored nearly 37,000 points, second in NBA history. He is fifth on the NBA career rebound list.
John Stockton is always in the discussion for top five point guards in NBA history. His abrupt style was awkward at times but always effective. I like how Stockton developed his jump shot over the course of his career. He started out being a typical set up guy but evolved himself into being a dangerous scorer. Stockton made clutch plays at the end of games to provide the Jazz many victories. Stockton holds the distinction of being first in the NBA in both career steals and assists. Outstanding.
Jazz fans would rate Pete Maravich as one of their favorite franchise players. A lot of NBA fans older than the age of 50 would regard Maravich as one of the most entertaining basketball players ever. Maravich played for the Jazz when their home was in New Orleans. Nicknamed Pistol Pete, Maravich played streetball under control. His flashy style loosened up the NBA before athleticism was a thing. Maravich was one of my favorite players to watch because his outstanding court vision always led to a surprising play to score a basket.
Adrian Dantley remains one of the more productive Jazz players. Although not in the top ten for Jazz games played, Dantley, the Notre Dame product, lands in the top ten for minutes played, assists and steals. Only Stockton and Malone scored more points than Dantley, who did most of his damage in the paint.
Eaton was a seven footer who clogged the lane and blocked shots. I never cared much for his game and I was surprised to see how well he stacks up on the Jazz career lists: 3rd in games and minutes played, second in rebounds and first in blocked shots. Eaton was a prototypical big man in the middle who wasn’t flashy but helped his team to win a lot of games, particularly on the defensive end.
Deron Williams began his jazz career putting up some nice numbers and becoming a fan favorite. Unfortunately, Williams moved on to other teams and his career began to bottom out. Williams was a top five point guard during his Jazz years. I liked his smooth passing, decision making and ability to make big shots.
Of current Jazz players, Gordon Hayward is the most likely to distinguish himself in Jazz history. Hayward, who is in his 7th season with the Jazz, has already reached the top ten for assists and is second all time in three-point shots made. I like Hayward’s overall skill set and Indiana bloodline.
Stats taken from basketball-reference.com