Examining the Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers connection

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers holds the ball against Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 7, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers holds the ball against Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 7, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MAY 04: Donovan Mitchell #45 and Jae Crowder #99 of the Utah Jazz react to their 113-92 loss in Game Three of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs to the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 4, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – MAY 04: Donovan Mitchell #45 and Jae Crowder #99 of the Utah Jazz react to their 113-92 loss in Game Three of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs to the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 4, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

Small Market, No Rings

Unfortunately, neither the Jazz nor Pacers have won an NBA Championship. They both had their chances, but both were taken out by all-time greats: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. As Jazz fans know, the Chicago Bulls defeated the team back-to-back years in the NBA Finals from 1997-1998.

As Pacers fans know, the Lakers took down their team in their only NBA Finals run, in 2000. Shaquille O’Neal averaged 38 points and 17 rebounds during the series, winning Finals MVP.

Both the Pacers and Jazz were lucky enough to be led by loyal, elite players during those times. Reggie Miller never left the Pacers, John Stockton never left the Jazz and Karl Malone only left when he was 40 years old and playing the last year of his career.

Utah and Indiana aren’t free agent destinations, which makes it incredibly hard to land elite players like Miller, Stockton and Malone, especially in today’s NBA, where players love the spotlight. Teams in small markets need to absolutely nail their draft picks. Obviously, the Jazz were blessed with Donovan Mitchell during the 2017 NBA Draft. It’s too early to tell, but he seems committed to being in Utah for a long time.

The Pacers have drafted well over the years. Right now, they’re lucky to have acquired Victor Oladipo, who is all in on Indiana. I’d be shocked if he ever left Indiana. So, both franchises are on the rise with their stars. Will it result in Finals appearances like it did for Miller, Stock and Malone? Time will tell.

Next. Utah Jazz alums: Tyrone Wallace gets deal in NOLA. dark

Both the Jazz and Pacers are top-notch, highly competitive organizations. There should be a mutual respect between the franchises. The Jazz currently have the fifth best winning percentage of all-time among active teams. The Pacers are above average, ranking 14th.