While the Utah Jazz are generally known for drafting and developing talent well, there are still a few great players the Jazz have fumbled along the way.
One team’s trash can eventually become another’s treasure. This is the case for a few players the Jazz have had the opportunity to have at one point during their careers. Then, the team ultimately decides to prematurely let them leave the team, just for them to go under vast improvements in the years following.
No franchise is perfect; this happens at some point to every team in the association. Just look at how Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is performing for the Thunder after being dealt from the Clippers, or even how Lauri Markkanen has faired with the Jazz this season after his stints with Chicago and Cleveland.
Some players just end up being better fits in new places, but that doesn’t make the team that let them go look any less foolish. For the Jazz, across the team’s almost 50-year history, there’s been a few notable misses along the way.
Here are five players the Jazz gave up on a bit too early in their NBA careers:
1. Paul Millsap
The multi-time All-Star began his career here in Utah, although none of those All-Star appearances ended up coming with the Jazz.
Millsap was drafted to the team back in the 2006 NBA Draft as a second-round pick, 47th overall. Looking back, this pick was an absolute steal considering Millsap’s production. He joined the Jazz at 21 years old out of Louisiana Tech, and put in a solid 7 years with the squad.
In those seven seasons, Millsap averaged 12.4 points and 7 rebounds per game on about 50% shooting from the field. While these are solid numbers as is, they don’t compare to the numbers he was able to put up with his next team.
The Jazz let Millsap walk in free agency to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 offseason. The following season, the Jazz ended up winning 25 total games; a big decline from their previous 43. As for Millsap, he averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game, netting the first All-Star appearance of his career.
Looking back, this ended up allowing the Jazz to step back and retool for what would end up evolving into the team’s late 2010s playoff teams. However, it’s definitely hard to ignore what Millsap ended up producing after leaving the team.