Utah Jazz PnB Awards: Best Pink Backpack


The Utah Jazz PnB Awards: Best Pink Backpack (AKA, Rookie of the Year)

These are the 2014-15 Utah Jazz PnB Awards. Our panel of utterly unbiased experts have put our sizable heads together in an attempt to recognize Utah Jazz players that made a difference in a season the real experts picked far too meagerly.

"These mist-covered mountainsAre a home now for meBut my home is the lowlandsAnd always will beSome day you’ll return toYour valleys and your farmsAnd you’ll no longer burnTo be brothers in armsThrough these fields of destructionBaptisms of fireI’ve witnessed your sufferingAs the battle raged highAnd though they did hurt me so badIn the fear and alarmYou did not desert meMy brothers in arms–Dire Straits"

"Boone: Gotta carry that pink back pack all summer.Exum: No, no, no. I told Gordon and Fav that I’m not a rookie anymore. They seemed to not believe it it, but in my mind I’m not!Boone: Say, you’re the youngest on the team, you still carry the pink backpack.Exum: I told them that it doesn’t matter, I’ve done my first year. I’m not a rookie anymore. I think I’ll just keep (the pink backpack), it will give me memories about the first season.(While wearing it) I had one lady that said, ” You must be very comfortable with yourself…” I’m like, “Yes, ma’am, I am.”–The J Notes, Locker Clean-Out Pt II"

 The NBA Rookie of the Year was announced today, and Andrew Wiggins — GASP — won the award. The Utah Jazz had seven rookies log minutes this season, six of whom logged at least 87 minutes of floor-time. Who is your Utah Jazz Rookie of the Year?

Spencer Wixom: For me it’s Rodney Hood, and it’s not relatively close.

He was the only rookie we saw take over quarters at anytime throughout the year. Exum’s defense was great this year, but he didn’t affect games frequently. When Hood was healthy, he was arguable the Jazz’s best player not named Hayward, Favors, or Gobert.

Rodney Hood showed he is an offensive beast, averaging 16.7 points per game in April. His defense was solid and he was a much better rebounder than advertised coming out of college, averaging four rebounds per-36 minutes. His offensive game was not solely spot up jumpers like many rookies.

Hood is fantastic at just about everything on offense. He can run the pick and roll, he can hit the midrange, he has a floater, and is a great passer.

I called Hood a 6′-8″ JJ Reddick when the Jazz drafted him.  In Hood’s rookie season and he proved he can be all that and more. That is why he is the Jazz’s ROY.

Clint Peterson: He had to be shipped from game to game in bubble wrap, Wix…

Spencer Wixom: Sure Hood didn’t play as much as Ingles, but they both have the same win share of 2.2. Win share is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player. So Hood added the same amount of wins in 50 games than Ingles did in 79. Check!

Joe Ingles

, all Australians ride kangaroos, right? – Illustration by Clint Peterson” width=”320″ height=”243″ /> Like Joe Ingles, all Australians ride kangaroos, right? – Illustration by Clint Peterson

Clint Peterson: Ingles had more assists and steals per 36 minutes than Hood, and comparable field goal percentages. Plus, Slo Mo Joe talked smack in Enes Kanter‘s face after a three and rides kangaroos to games!

Spencer Wixom: Yes, but Hood also scored 14.7 points per 36 minutes compared to Ingles 8.5. Hood also had a 19.6 usage rate, whereas Ingles only had a 12.9. Hood’s PER was A 12.39 and Ingles’ was 9.64.

Michael Tozer: I ride kangaroos around every day, that’s nothing special.

Clint Peterson: Like, to work, Tozer? Do you drop the tokens in the pouch?

Jared Barker: Call me unconventional but I have to go with Rudy Gobert. OK, I’m kidding guys. I’m not that much of a homer!

I’d say the race was between two Jazzmen. “Slo Mo” Joe Ingles and Rodney “Prince of Threes” Hood.

Because of all the missed time for Hood I think the award goes to our wolf in sheep’s clothing. You know him as the scruffy wonder “Jingles all the way!” The man stepped in for an injured Gordon Hayward — and scored more than we Americans knew him capable of doing when he dropped 20 against er… umm… that one team… Was it Portland?

In any case Joe has shown he has the intangibles you want in a wily veteran rookie. Knows his role and his game and leaves it all out on the floor. I love that an LA team that really needs a bench cut him and the Jazz picked him up. Yep those poor suckers who just derped away Game 5 against the San Antonio Spurs.

Go Joe!

Blake Draper: My first step in deciding on a Utah Jazz RoY is eliminating Jack Cooley and Bryce Cotton on the basis of them playing extremely limited minutes.

Yes, I appreciated Cooley’s Rudy-salute-earning rejection of Gary Harris and Bryce Cotton’s amazing dunk, but this is a full-season award. Of the remaining four players, the one that showed the most long-term promise was definitely Rodney Hood.

However, he missed 32 games due to injury or illness, which eliminates him from contention, so I’ll have to give him an honorable mention. Trust me, I’m still annoyed about Kawhi Leonard being DPOY after missing 18 games. Elijah Millsap is also eliminated from contention at this stage due to only appearing in 47 games and because he fouled way too much for my liking.

It all comes down to the Jazz rookies from Down Under, “Slow Mo” Joe Ingles and Dante Exum. They’re kind of at opposite ends of the rookie spectrum. Dante is 19, while Joe is 27. Joe had played professionally for years prior to this season, while Dante was truly a professional rookie.

This disparity in experience showed. Joe generally looked more comfortable on the court than Dante. It also felt like Joe was something of a coach on the floor, particularly when it came to calling out instructions on defense.

At the end of the day, neither player had a great year from a statistical standpoint, but my opinion is that Joe made greater contributions to the team’s success. Even though Dante has a brighter long-term future, Joe Ingles* is my 2015 Utah Jazz Rookie of the Year!

*Denotes that Blake really, really, REALLY wanted to give this award to Rodney Hood

Ryan Aston: My Miss America answer is that all of the Jazz rookies that got the chance to play regular minutes this season did good things. Elijah Millsap looked the part of an elite defender. So too did Dante Exum, who probably deserves extra points just for surviving an 82-game NBA schedule as stick-thin 19-year-old who had basically come to the team from a year off of competitive basketball.

In many ways, Ingles was part of the heart and soul of what this Jazz team became over the course of the season. Then we have Cotton, who probably played himself into a career in the league during the final weeks of the season.

With all of that being said, I’m also giving the nod to Rodney Hood. Not because I’m a closet Duke fan (I’m totally a closet Duke fan), but because of the way he answered the call despite the challenges he faced in his rookie campaign. Early in the season, I opined the Hood had been the most disappointing Jazz player to date. Not because he had done anything wrong, but because injuries had kept him from doing pretty much anything at all.

Plantar fasciitis is no joke. I know this from personal experience. But despite the toll it took on Hood and the many games it forced him to miss, he was able to rebound and have a major impact on the team in the second half of the season. To me, this makes Hood our RoY.

Besides, how can you vote against a guy that joined Trey Burke and Karl Malone as only the third Jazzman ever to take home Rookie of the Month honors? The answer is you can’t.

End of story.


It’s almost the end, Rev Ryan. But first, the final tally: Ingles (or Aussies) 4, Hood 2.

Congratulations, Slo Mo Joe Ingles! You’ve won a shiny new kangaroo saddle to keep your plums tidy on your next adventure Outback as the inaugural Utah Jazz PnB Best Pink Backback Award winner.

The kangaroo saddle, invented by Ben Franklin. Not really. But congrats anyway, Joe Ingles!

Utah Jazz PnB Balls of Fury Award winner here

Utah Jazz PnB Diabolical Play of the Year Award winner here

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