NBA analyst mistakenly calls the Utah Jazz ‘one wing short’

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

In a recent article outlining every NBA team’s most critical weakness, Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale referred to the Utah Jazz as “one wing short”. In fairness to Favale, the spirit of his article was to find a weakness with every NBA team. That’s a difficult proposition when it comes to the Jazz, as one of the deeper, more well-rounded teams across the Association.

Nonetheless, his article begged the question: Are the Utah Jazz short a wing?

To elaborate, Favale’s position was that, out of the wings that currently populate Utah’s rotation, only Royce O’Neale is a viable option to guard the NBA’s elite wing players. He made no efforts to deny the overall value of Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic: he simply claimed that the Utah Jazz were short a wing stopper.

To put his claim to the test, we took the top 3 wing defenders on each of the four teams below the Jazz in last season’s standings, found their Defensive Box Plus/Minus’ (DBPM) from 2020-21, and ranked each alongside the Utah Jazz based on their average DBPM.

Two caveats apply to this exercise. First, the players considered had to play at least 30 games last season, a number somewhat arbitrarily selected to ensure that each player was a mostly regular part of their team’s rotation. Second, “wing” is not an official position: for this exercise, we’re defining a wing as “a player who saw minutes at the Small Forward position in 2020-21”.

With those parameters established, let’s look at the five best regular teams in the NBA last season, and how their top 3 wings stacked up against one another in terms of DBPM.