No this is not Jazz music’s attempts to give away awards that nobody knows. This is a chance to shout out the great contributors to the Utah Jazz basketball organization of the NBA.
MVP: Rudy Gobert
Before this season started most people would think you’re crazy to include Gobert in this conversation. In the past rim protecting bigs haven’t won a lot. The last ones you could say were The Big Ticket (Kevin Garnett) or the Big Fundamental. You could make the case that they were better scorers. However, we haven’t seen a player quite like Gobert that has made people re-think the word “Valuable” especially on the defensive end.
Rudy is certainly not the favorite but he has a case for finalist if the Jazz can pull off the 1 seed in the West. He was recently on the NBA Kia MVP Ladder where he was ranked 8th place on the list. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently first on the list.
The Jazz are in a unique situation where they have two players that possibly could win an MVP. If Donovan continues to elevate his offense at this level we could see a superstar guard and a bona fide big man carry the Jazz to the top of the Mountain.
Rudy is currently the 4th highest scorer among centers at 15.7 points per game. If he’s going to win an MVP he will need to keep having these twenty point games.
DPOY: Rudy Gobert
Is this even a question? There are so many stats to show how Rudy’s defense wins games for the Jazz. You can point to specific games to show how Rudy literally won the Jazz the game. If Rudy doesn’t get that block at the end of the game vs the Pelicans OR Mavericks, maybe the Jazz lose both games. When Gobert fouled out in overtime on a phantom call the Jazz DID lose in a rematch with the Pelicans.
Rudy is currently second in the NBA in rebounds with 14.5 per game. He only trails rebound specialist Andre Drummond. He is also 5th in blocks with 2 per game. Hassan Whiteside leads the league with 3 per game. This stat is somewhat misleading because Gobert alters an insane amount of shots. Some teams don’t even attempt to challenge the “Stifle Tower” in the paint. They wait until he goes to the bench. Don’t sleep on Rudy’s perimeter defense either. He has improved his lateral movement and that combined with his length has led to chase down blocks on speedy point guards.
Anthony Davis is a distant second in the race for best defender in the NBA.
All-Star MVP: Donovan and Rudy
Rudy the lock down defender appeared to be a lock for the All-Star Game and several players in the NBA have put the coaches on notice to make the right decision. This year the coaches stepped up. Last year the defending Defensive Player of the Year was snubbed as he did not get chosen. This year how can they not choose Rudy? He is putting up similar monster numbers while playing for a winning team that is just holding on to 2nd in the West.
The coaches also voted Donovan Mitchell into the All-Star Game. Donovan has had some experience at the NBA’s celebratory weekend as he won the Dunk Contest his rookie year and played in the Rising Stars game in his first two years in the NBA.
It is very possible for at least one or both Jazz players to get an All-Star victory depending on which team captain chooses them. LeBron and The Greek Freak are once again the team captains.
My prediction is that the Greek Freak will win his first All-Star MVP. He scored the most points with 38 last year but since he was on the losing end the award went to Kevin Durant. This year Giannis will make better selections and with the Jazz players killing it in garbage time he will have more momentum to run away with the game in the fourth quarter.
It might be tough for either player to get an All-Star MVP this year since they are both reserves. The starters tend to win this trophy since they get more playing time. I’d say that Gobert will get significant minutes especially in the second half where there might be some actual defense. Donovan might have some of the top dunk highlights and Gobert might set the record for most dunks in an All-Star Game but this will hopefully be the start of many appearances in this star studded game.
The game will be in Salt Lake City in 2023 which will be 30 years since it last came there when the dynamic duo John Stockton and Karl Malone won co-MVP. It is definitely possible for The Spider and the French Rejection to do the same.
Most Improved: Bojan Bogdanovic
This year Bojan Bogdanovic is one of the most improved players on the Utah Jazz, if not the NBA. He has been averaging more than 3 points per game more than last year. His impressive play has definitely helped take some of the scoring pressure off of Donovan. Anytime you have two players scoring over 20 points a game you’re going to win a lot of games.
It won’t be easy for Bogey to win this award as guys like Brandon Ingram have both improved their scoring by 7 points per game. Bojan won’t get there unless another player like Donovan misses significant time and he is called to carry more of the load. Donovan and Mike Conley have been struggling as of late so the Jazz might rely on a stretch for like Bojan to pick up more of the scoring.
6th man: Jordan Clarkson
Jordan might have a puncher’s chance at winning this reward but definitely not as much as some of the other Jazz players do at winning postseason awards. While being the missing spark plug off the bench the Jazz were missing, Clarkson needs to prove he can be consistent. Currently he is averaging 15 points per game which has been a common number off the bench. Despite the loss he is coming off a stellar 37 point game. The 27 year old was shooting every opportunity he just like his old teammate Kobe Bryant who unfortunately passed away recently.
Jordan does need to learn the Jazz system especially if he is called upon for more minutes but it is good to have another player with that killer mentality. Before the Jazz would blow the leads that their starters desperately worked to attain. Jordan Clarkson is helping the Jazz score more than their opponents when he is on the floor.
Once a perennial negative plus minus player (as most are on bad teams) Jordan has a career high of +2.2 with the Jazz so far. If Jordan can continue to improve this high scoring then he can be in consideration to finish top 5 in voting for this award. He faces stiff competition from guys like three time winner Lou Williams.
Coach of the Year: Quin Snyder
There’s no debate. Quin develops players better than any other coach on the NBA. He will need to finish top 2 in the West to have a good shot at winning. Surprisingly no Jazz coach has ever won despite many stellar seasons from Jerry Sloan. Quin has been a finalist though.
It’s no surprise that the Jazz would appreciate individual awards but they definitely have their sights set higher. They have a real chance to win a Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. If they take it one game at a time there’s a good chance they can achieve their goal in the near future.