New Year, Same Dream
By ALMA BEAN
Listed left to right: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
2022 is now upon us. Teams are starting to see excellence that they have invested in the 2021 offseason. The Jazz are no exception. Seeing players such as Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gay playing to, I not above expectations.
During the 2021 offseason, the Utah Jazz made multiple transactions. The Jazz signed 9-year veteran, Hassan Whiteside at center and 15-year veteran, Rudy Gay. Before the season began, the Utah Jazz were aware that Rudy Gay would not be ready for the season opener due to his recovery from a heel surgery removing a bone spur he had been rehabbing. In the 24 games Gay has played so far this season is averaging 9.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG and a career-high in +/- of 5.0. Whiteside on the other hand has been averaging 7.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG in the 33 games he has played this season. Both players have been fan favorites since their arrival.
While fans waited for Gay to recover, we got to see a glimpse of Eric Paschall, former Golden State Warrior that the Jazz acquire via trade in exchange for a future second-round pick. Paschall, 2-year pro out of Villanova, showed promise while with Golden State averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 100 games with the Warriors. Though his role was minimal in the 25 games he has played so far this season, he has proven that having a bigger body on the court with the second unit can be intimidating towards other teams even when scoring is not the outcome. His numbers have all gone down since he has arrived in Utah, including minutes by nearly seven per game. After an amazing rookie outing in the 2019-20 season, Paschall has shown that he can thrive in the NBA but has yet to be given a role to show his talent. With multiple players out for their game against the Toronto Raptors, fans are hopeful for a promising showing from Paschall and rookie Jared Butler.
Jared Butler, 40th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, won NCAA Most Outstanding Player while playing for Baylor during the 2020-21 season. Due to a potential health issue, Butler’s draft stock dropped dramatically. The Utah Jazz have managed to get a Donovan Mitchell like player in Butler and fans are eager to see him play. Jazz fans have mainly seen Butler play when the game is practically over and won. Currently, Butler is averaging 4.3 MPG and 1.8 PPG, not promising for the NBA, but his G League stats tell a different story. In the five games Butler has played in the G League, he has averaged 21.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 6.8 APG. The young guard shows promise and the Utah Jazz fan base is curious to see how his raw talent translates to the NBA.
The Rest of the Season to Go
The Utah Jazz started off hot to start the season going into the new year third in the West behind Golden State and Phoenix. Going forward, 25 of 47 games are against teams that have won 50% or more of their games so far. With COVID-19 resurging throughout the league, it will be difficult to gameplan against anyone. Every team in the league has had at least one player in health and safety protocol due to COVID-19. The Jazz were the last team to have a player enter this protocol when Joe Ingles entered it after their game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Between COVID-19 and 10-day hardship contracts, the league is giving a lot of players opportunities to play and prove they belong in the league. For Utah’s sake, hopefully this period of time will provide success for the players not only for their careers but translate to wins as well.