Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood tells NBA TV he wants to be an All-Star

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 2: Rodney Hood
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 2: Rodney Hood /

Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz was recently featured on NBA TV, where he spoke on his desires to become an All-Star and lead the Utah Jazz to the top of the Western Conference.

Utah Jazz fans have been quite vocal about their expectations for Rodney Hood this next season. With the departure of Gordon Hayward, the hope is that he can become the next player capable of carrying the offensive load and helping to lead this team back to the playoffs.

Over the course of his three year career, his play has been very up and down. In spurts he has shown the capability of being a focal point of an offense, the type of player who can take 15-plus shots a game, and average 20 points over the course of a season.

On the flip side, largely due to injuries, he has gone through stretches where he looks more suited as a solid role player, or potentially even a sixth man off the bench.

NBA TV recently ran a profile on Rodney Hood, detailing his performance from last season, and his own expectations heading into next season. There were a few pieces brought up in the feature that should be cause for optimism for Jazz fans, the largest being Rodney expressing his own personal desires for his career.

Rodney has always seemed a little quiet and a bit more reserved and humble than most athletes. While that makes for a terrific person, it has led people to question his ability to become “the man” on an NBA team.

In his interview with NBA TV, he put a lot of those questions to rest in stating his personal desire to become an All-Star in the Western Conference. Obviously, becoming an All-Star in the West is a tall order. As a wing in the NBA, he’ll likely need to score at least 20-plus points per game.

During the 2015-16 season, he set a career high by scoring 14.2 points per game. He played in 79 games that year and looked primed to make a jump the following season. Unfortunately due to injury, that didn’t happen. Instead his overall performance regressed. He averaged only 12.7 points and missed 23 games due to injury. When he did play, he struggled with consistency, and rarely showed aggression on the offensive side. He looked much more like a role player than someone capable of being the primary option offensively.

In a contract year, Rodney Hood has shown this summer that he is up for the challenge of replacing Gordon Hayward. In a piece by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune, he reported that Dennis Lindsey challenged Rodney to get better this off-season, and to fulfill his potential.

"“Lindsey challenged his shooting guard. He wants more consistency. He wants Hood to visit the free-throw line more often. He wants the guard who is entering a contract year to turn his offensive ability into efficient production“He told me the truth,” Hood said. “He said he wanted me to get better and to prepare myself for a bigger role.””"

As Jared Woodcox of The J-Notes reported, Rodney has stayed in Utah all summer to work out with Utah assistant coach Johnnie Bryant. Bryant is the same coach who worked with Hayward and assisted him in reaching his All-Star status. Jazz fans can only hope that he can achieve similar results with Rodney.

Along with expressing his personal goal to become an All-Star, he also shared his hope that his improvement can assist in leading the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals, and ultimately, the NBA Finals.

The Jazz have not reached the Conference Finals since 2008, when they were led there by Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. The Finals have been out of reach since the hallowed Stockton and Malone years. In the ultra competitive West, even reaching the playoffs may prove to be a challenge.

If Rodney Hood can stay healthy while also making the strides to become an All-Star, the Jazz have the pieces to compete in the West, especially if players like Dante Exum and Donovan Mitchell progress like the Jazz are hoping.

The Jazz may not be as good as they were last year, even if Hood takes a leap, but it is hard not to be excited about this upcoming season. There are multiple story-lines that we’ll be watching closely. How is Gobert going to respond in Hayward’s absence? Can Favors stay healthy and get back to his old self? Will Exum start to live up to his potential as a number 5 pick? Can Mitchell live up to the hype?

Next: Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood and Ricky Rubio slotted at 16th in B/R’s backcourt rankings

But the question I am most interested in is, can Rodney Hood become the number one offensive player, and can he handle that load efficiently? If he can, he will absolutely put himself in contention for a berth to the All-Star game, and in turn will help lead the Jazz back to the post-season.