Utah Jazz move a step closer to developing another starter

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest is living in an ideal environment for growth.

Under the right conditions and with proper training, Trent Forrest could become an NBA starter. It wouldn’t hurt to spend more years with the Utah Jazz, under the wings of All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley.

Well, by re-signing on a two-way contract this week while shining for the Jazz in Summer League, it looks as if the former undrafted guard out of Florida State is staying on the best career track.

Should Forrest remain in Salt Lake City for several seasons to come, it’d be a safe bet that the 23-year-old at least develops into a counted-on reserve. Of course, if the stars happen to align, he might even crack the starting lineup at some point down the line.

When both Mitchell and Conley were out with injuries down the stretch of the 2020-21 regular season, Forrest regularly answered the call off the bench. He came up clutch in a couple of Utah Jazz wins across an early-May six-game span, in which he averaged 7.5 points, 2.2 assists, and only 1.2 turnovers while shooting 15-for-27 from the field in his 18.5 minutes per game.

The highlight was an on-court water bath from Mitchell & Co. following Forrest’s efficient play, timely sparks, and admirable “Spida” impressions to help fuel a home victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Even so, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound fill-in floor general drew zero starting nods last season, played in only 30 games, and saw nothing more than garbage-time minutes in the postseason.

Nothing wrong with Utah Jazz projects taking baby steps

Remember, Royce O’Neale went undrafted out of Baylor in 2015 and decided to sharpen his tools overseas for a few years. Plus, after finally earning a contract with Utah, the undersized forward had to gradually work his way into a second-string role during his 2017-18 rookie campaign — even taking the court for one G League affair.

Skip ahead to the present day. O’Neale is now a two-year starter. As an integral piece on both ends of the floor, the 28-year-old has become a Utah Jazz fixture. He’s done so with determination and without ever seeking the limelight along the way.

ALSO READ: The 50 greatest Jazz players of all time

Then there’s Rudy Gobert, who was just a late first-round pick in 2013. The gangly 7-footer required a rookie year on the pine and in the G League before becoming a vital reserve midway through the following season. Eventually, he also became a full-time starter.

Now, at age 29, Gobert is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and sits among the most valuable treasures in franchise history.

Predicting next season's Jazz rotation. dark. Next

That said, Trent Forrest’s path to solidifying a spot in an NBA rotation will be unique to Trent Forrest. But the goal should appear more attainable now with the good fortune to again constantly hang around two bench-to-starter success stories in Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert, not to mention two top-of-the-line professionals in Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell.