Utah Jazz: Predicting stats for every starter in 2021-22

Utah Jazz (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale 2021-22 stat predictions: 7.6 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game, 1.2 steals per game

If any projected starter for the Utah Jazz can be identified as a “beyond-the-stats” player, it’s Royce O’Neale. His brand of hustle, energy and defense paired with consistently reliable three-point shooting may not make for a superstar, but it does allow him to be an invaluable contributor towards his team’s win total.

Having established that, O’Neale’s statistics have actually shown incremental growth in every season he’s been in the National Basketball Association. Over the past three seasons, he’s increased his points per game from 5.2 to 6.3 to 7.0. His rebounds per game have followed a similar pattern, increasing from 3.5 to 5.5 to 6.8.

We’re anticipating a similarly slight-but-notable improvement in each category from O’Neale. He’s the best defensive wing in Snyder’s rotation by a long shot, and should expect to see considerable floor time on the virtue of that fact alone. His steady three-point shooting (37.9% accuracy on 5.6 attempts per game throughout his 4-year-career) never seems to falter, and his hard-nosed approach to the game should boost his rebounds per game over the 7 threshold for the first time in his career.

Meanwhile, we’re counting on O’Neale’s dogged dedication to defense to finally get him a steal per game. He’s consistently come close throughout his career, as he’s averaged 0.7, 0.8 and 0.8 per game over the last few seasons. The 2021-22 season should be an opportunity for him to get over that hump as well.

Again, Utah Jazz fans should not be looking for Royce O’Neale to fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis. That’s not his role, and that’s perfectly fine. Incremental improvement in the three statistical categories most relevant to him as a player would be a great outcome for his 2021-22 season.