Utah Jazz: Ranking every offseason acquisition

Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay (Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay (Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz have had an under-the-radar, but solid offseason. How do each of their new acquisitions stack up against one another? 

The biggest victory of the Utah Jazz’s offseason was not an outside acquisition. Retaining Mike Conley Jr. on a 3-year, 72.5 million dollar contract was unequivocally General Manager Justin Zanik’s greatest victory. That deal isn’t just team-friendly: it’s true love between the Jazz and Mike Conley Jr.’s new pact. The fact that it was inked without having to sacrifice one of several key role players is an added bonus, and was not a foregone conclusion. 

Nonetheless, Utah did acquire a platoon of solid, well-fitting role players to further their cause for the 2021-22 NBA season. Here’s how we rank each new Jazzman:

Utah Jazz acquisition #3: Hassan Whiteside

Here’s a general rule: when your worst acquisition of the offseason is making the veteran’s minimum, you’ve had a good offseason.

That’s what Whiteside will be making to spot Rudy Gobert as the Utah Jazz’s primary backup 5. By all means, this was a smart signing by Zanik. Whiteside is entirely qualified for the role he’ll be accepting for the Utah Jazz, and is entirely likely to earn every penny of his (relative to NBA standards) modest contract.

So why is this the third best acquisition of the Utah Jazz’s offseason?

Well, as we’ve frequently mentioned, the Jazz had a strong offseason. The other 2 acquisitions were simply better, and that isn’t a knock on Whiteside. With that said: here are some knocks on Whiteside.

Whiteside’s Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) last season was actually negative, at -0.6. He has, in fairness, posted a positive score in every other season of his career, but outside of his 2.4 mark in 2015-16, he’s never posted a particularly impressive figure either.

Whiteside consistently posts gaudy per 36 rebound and block totals, but, he has rightfully developed a bit of a reputation for chasing blocks at the expense of proper defensive positioning. This habit likely contributes to the range of underwhelming to downright bad DBPM scores he’s posted throughout his career.

If Head Coach Quin Snyder can coax this habit out of Whiteside, the value of this contract could be immense. Even if he can’t, it will be solid. Still, there are simply less question marks surrounding the other 2 key acquisitions the Utah Jazz have made this offseason.

Utah Jazz acquisition #2: Eric Paschall

Astute readers may already be asking themselves how we could diminish the Whiteside signing for his questionable defensive impact, only to turn around and rank the trade for Paschall, who posted a -1.5 DBPM himself, ahead of it.

Here’s a simple answer: Eric Paschall is 24.

He also comes equipped with significantly more offensive upside. Paschall scored 19.7 points per 36 minutes for the Golden State Warriors last season on a solid 56.8 True Shooting % (TS%). A burly 6’6, 255 lbs combo forward, Paschall also served as an effective small ball center for the Warriors over the 2020-21 season.

Paschall, like Whiteside, can be a defensive liability. Frequently strapped with the dreaded “tweener” label, Paschall is a little too short to consistently protect the rim, and a little too stout to muster the agility required to defend some of the NBA’s better wings on the perimeter. Unlike Whiteside, however, Paschall may not even be frequently called upon throughout the 2021-22 NBA season for the Utah Jazz.

That’s largely due to the acquisition we’re ranking #1. Nonetheless, Paschall is an intriguing fallback option for Coach Snyder. Furthermore, at 24, Paschall could end up being nothing more than a valuable midseason trade chip for the Jazz. At the cost of a protected future second-round pick, that’s excellent value.

Finally, go find a piece of wood and ready your preferred knocking hand: if the Utah Jazz disappoint this season and are left rebuilding around star guard Donovan Mitchell, Paschall is his close personal friend, and age-appropriate to what would be a new timeline.

Assuming it doesn’t come to that, the Jazz’ acquisition of a similar, older player ranks as its best of the offseason.

Utah Jazz acquisition #1: Rudy Gay

The Utah Jazz entered this offseason in dire need of a small ball 5 option, having been demolished by the Los Angeles Clipper’s five-out configuration featuring Nicolas Batum at the 5. They wasted no time acquiring Rudy Gay in free agency on a two-year, $12 million dollar contract.

He should be worth every penny. His DBPM of -0.2 from 2020-21 is not awe-inspiring, but unlike the Jazz’s other 2 acquisitions, it doesn’t qualify him as a liability either. Gay is a smart, sturdy veteran who can (and will) close out three-point attempts with the necessary vigor. He is, in a nutshell, exactly the sort of player the Jazz could have used against the Los Angeles Clippers in these most recent Western Conference semi-finals.

He’ll be a positive contributor for the Utah Jazz across the board, likely functioning primarily as a backup 4 and situational small-ball 5. Last season, Gay averaged 19 points, 8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes, with a reliable 53.2 TS%.

Next. How Eric Paschall can earn more minutes this year. dark

At 34, The Great Rudini is far removed from his potential superstar days, but he is a solid veteran who contributes spacing, secondary shot creation, rebounding and defense. He is the best acquisition the contending Utah Jazz have made this offseason.