Naming the Utah Jazz All-Time First Team and more

Utah Jazz (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz (Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz Second Team C: Mark Eaton

Mark Eaton was extremely close to cracking the Utah Jazz’s All-Time First Team. That’s how special the late, great Californian big man was.

Everything about Eaton was massive, starting with his unfathomable 7’4, 275-pound frame. Perhaps even more unthinkable were Eaton’s block totals. He averaged 5.6 of them per game over the 1989-90 season. If you just went directly to Google to confirm the validity of that statistic, nobody is here to blame you.

The majority of Eaton’s impact came on the defensive end, rejecting any shot attempt that dared make its way to the interior and collecting rebounds to the tune of a career average of 7.9 per (a number that is significantly lessened by the outliers of his first and last seasons). Over that same 1989-90 season, Eaton contributed 9.7 points per game, which would stand as his career high.

Still, no player is likely to ever get as close to blocking as many shots as he scored points again. Eaton is a Utah Jazz legend who tragically passed in a bicycling accident on May 28, 2021.

Utah Jazz Second Team PF: Carlos Boozer

For Jazz fans around the globe, those two glorious words still illicit images of Boozer trapping some unwitting post defender in his spin cycle, only to bait them into contact and have them watch as the ball found its way into the basket:

“And one!”

Boozer was one of the most loveable characters in Utah Jazz history, but make no mistake, he was also one of their best all-time players. One of the last of the traditional power forwards, Boozer was a 20 and 10 machine throughout his heyday with the Jazz, with his best season coming in 2007-08 with averages of 21.1 points and 10.4 rebounds. Boozer didn’t shoot 3s, he wasn’t a great defender, and he didn’t have a ton of “guard skills”.

He just beat the heck out of anyone who crossed him on the low block. He also possessed great hands and a soft touch on inside shots, as well as a passable midrange game. He may not have been a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, but he made up for it with droves of points and rebounds.

Utah Jazz Second Team SF: Andrei Kirilenko

With Kirilenko for a front court mate, maybe Boozer didn’t feel motivated to play defense: AK-47 was playing it all for him.

His prime in the NBA was relatively brief, but from 2003-04 to 2006-07, the man named after the machine gun was the master of the STOCK (combined steals and blocks). In 2004-05, Kirilenko averaged 3.3 blocks, an absurd figure for a wing, to go with 1.6 steals per game. Those numbers were in-line with the numbers he consistently posted over the same stretch.

Kirilenko would likely thrive in the modern NBA, with the premium that it places on defensive versatility. Offensively, he was no slouch either, averaging between 15.3 to 16.5 points per game and 3.1-4.3 assists per game between 2003-04 and 2005-06.

Readers who played fantasy basketball during this era may be quick to defend Kirilenko’s worthiness of first-team consideration. Instead, he’ll have to settle for the second-team nod.

Utah Jazz Second Team SG: Jeff Hornacek

The decision between Hornacek and Darrell Griffith was not easily made. One contributed a steady 20+ points per game for the Utah Jazz during arguably their least successful era, and the other provided auxiliary scoring during their most successful one. Ultimately, we went with the guy with 108.9 career Win Shares (WS) over the guy with 22.

Besides, Hornacek was only one of the very best three-point shooters of his era, exceeding 40% accuracy from deep in all-but-one of his 8 seasons as a Jazzman. Like any sniper from his era, Hornacek must salivate watching the NBA in 2021: the 3.2 threes he attempted per night over the 1992-93 season marked a career high.

There’s little question that he would double or even triple that figure if he were playing in 2021. Still, the man with the least printable nickname in NBA history splashed plenty of triples for the Utah Jazz, earning himself a placement on the franchise’s All-Time Second Team.

Utah Jazz Second Team PG: Deron Williams

For a brief moment in time, Deron Williams was regarded as one of the two best point guard in the NBA. It almost feels surreal, like it must be some kind of Mandela effect. It is not.

Over the course of the 2010-11 season, Williams posted averages of 20.1 points and 10.3 assists per game. A look at his advanced stats over that season reflect an even stronger player. His PER of 22.1 and 7.3 Win Shares (which actually paled in comparison to his career high of 10.9) more accurately reflect the absolutely elite level of play he’d roughly maintained since 2007-08.

You may know the story from there, but just in case: midway through 2010-11, Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets, and by 2013-14, his production had fallen off the world’s highest cliff.

For Jazz fans, it was like watching an ex’s life fall apart with their new partner: maybe a little sickly satisfying, but mostly, just sad.