Utah Jazz: 5 most underrated players in franchise history

Bryon Russell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images)
Bryon Russell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The late, great Mark Eaton is probably the most recognized name on this list. As a general rule, it’s difficult to forget any man who stands 7’4 and weighs 274 pounds. Nonetheless, he accomplished enough both on and off the court that he deserves more recognition than he currently receives.

We’ll start with Eaton’s tremendous on-court impact. You might want to sit down before you read this stat:

Mark Eaton blocked 5.6 shots per game for the Utah Jazz over the 1984-85 season.

That’s the most in NBA history for a single season. All told, Eaton sits fourth on the NBA’s all-time block leader list with 3,064 total career blocks. That puts him one spot ahead of Tim Duncan, who played 19 seasons in the National Basketball Association. Mark Eaton played 10.

He truly has a case as the most effective shot blocker in NBA history. Those weren’t empty stats either: remember the sub-100 Defensive Rating benchmark we’ve discussed throughout this article? Eaton hit that mark 3 times throughout his career. In fact, his career Defensive Rating stands at precisely 100. That’s good for 47th in NBA history, just three spots below current Utah Jazz player and 3x Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Eaton tragically passed away on May 28, 2021 in a bicycle accident. He was a valued member of the Utah community as much as he was a valued member of the Utah Jazz throughout the 80s into the early 90s.

A gentle giant who succeeded wherever he went, Mark Eaton left a sizeable legacy: he just deserves an even larger one.