Two of the Utah Jazz’s newest additions, Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha, appear primed to be perfect fits on their new team.
A couple days ago in wake of Jonas Jerebko officially inking his new two-year agreement with the Utah Jazz, I was quick to report on just how excited he had made it known that he was to join the Jazz’s ranks. It’s always refreshing for Jazz fans to see a player who’s looking forward to playing in Utah and Jerebko made it clear that such was the case.
However, his praise didn’t stop there as Jonas had even more good things to say about the Jazz organization in Tuesday’s introductory press conference that also featured fellow Jazz newcomer Thabo Sefolosha, who also spoke extremely highly of his new squad.
Per the Deseret News, here are the highlights from what each of them had to say. First from Jonas Jerebko:
"“I grew up a fan of the Jazz organization, just watching them play, playing video games (as the Jazz) back in Sweden.”“I actually owned a Malone jersey back home, a nice purple one. It was a very proud moment yesterday when I got to sign the contract and join the Jazz family.”“Looking at the (Utah) roster, looking at the coaching staff, the organization, it just felt like a perfect fit.”"
Meanwhile, Thabo Sefolosha had the following to add:
"“I know it’s a team that already prided themselves on being tough on the defensive end. Adding me, I’ll definitely bring that, the toughness on the defensive end, some veteran leadership. We have a young group and I’m really excited to come and play with them.”“We come here expecting to win. I know they lost a few guys and everything, but it’s a new season, a new year. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but at the same time we’re all here, all on board, for the same goal. We plan on winning games, definitely.”“I used to hate playing here (in Utah) against the team, so I’m excited being here and hearing those fans cheering for us for a change. It’s going to be great.”"
It’s awesome to see both newcomers give such glimmering reviews of their newly joined organization, mentioning everything from the front office, to their teammates, to the coaching staff and the fans. Much like Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson were added as capable vets to bolster a young squad last year, Sefolosha, Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh (who has yet to be formally introduced in this fashion) will fill a similar role this year.
Jerebko’s talk of loving the Jazz in his younger days and playing as the team in video games is very cool, but my favorite tidbit from the above quotes was definitely Sefolosha’s statement about previously hating to play in Utah. He’s a pesky defensive-minded guy that opposing players also happen to hate playing against, so pairing that tough environment in Utah with a tough defender in Sefolosha could very well turn out to be a match made in heaven.
Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey recently spoke about how he wants opposing teams to see playing the Jazz like taking a trip to the dentist – long and painful – and both of these guys certainly help to further solidify that mantra. And that’s truly what’s so great about both Jerebko and Sefolosha – not only have they expressed an excitement to play for the Jazz which will certainly help them fit well in the locker room and community, but their basketball mindsets, skills and versatility should also allow them to fit in perfectly with the 2017-18 Utah Jazz.
Even though the now-departed Gordon Hayward was Utah’s leading scorer, the Jazz still found success, not by leaning solely on him, but rather by utilizing all their strengths as a team. They’ll have to do that even more in their current situation, and Jerebko and Sefolosha are both of the perfect mold to make it happen to an even greater degree.
Both are ideal teammates who pride themselves on hustle, energy and filling whatever role is necessary for the team. While Sefolosha brings unrelenting, lock-down defense, Jerebko brings versatility, experience and a much-needed stretch-four component. Both players fill holes the Jazz desperately needed to fill and both should have no problem fitting in with exactly what Quin Snyder and the rest of the Jazz coaching staff have in mind for them.
Michael Pina of Vice Sports recently drew an interesting and likely fitting comparison between the current Jazz team and the 60-win 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks, who found success by sharing the scoring across their roster and making it nearly impossible for teams to game plan against them. The Jazz won’t win 60 games in a crowded Western Conference, but if they can even somewhat resemble that Atlanta team, it will be an extremely successful season for them, especially considering what they lost this summer.
So even though the loss of Gordon Hayward stings, Dennis Lindsey and the rest of the Jazz brass deserve high praise for filling his void as admirably as they have. All things considered, the Jazz are in a pretty decent spot and both of Utah’s recently introduced signings – Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha – ought to fit the roster like a glove.
If the team chemistry and defense are anywhere close to as good as they have the potential to be, the Jazz are going to remain an excellent team next year. Add in some internal improvement, some semblance of an offense coming together and of course a little luck, and this team could be primed and ready to surprise some people.
And I’m sure that’s exactly what Jerebko, Sefolosha and all of their new teammates are planning to do.