The best players in Jazz franchise history

The Jazz franchise has been around for 40 years and there have been plenty of great players during that time.  They have had numerous All-Stars, All-NBA players and even an MVP.  There have been many career honors as well, including seven Hall of Famers and three players named to the 50 greatest players in 1996.
This list is composed of the best 25 players that the Jazz have ever had.

Even though the current rendition of the Utah Jazz has a ton of young potential none of the players has done enough to deserve inclusion.

Note:  since this is a list of the best players in Jazz history, no other part of their career is included while deciding where each player ranks.

25.  Aaron James: James spent his entire NBA career as a member of the Jazz.  James averaged double figures in scoring in four of his five seasons to go along with over four rebounds a night.  Those are pretty impressive numbers when you consider that James only played 21 minutes a game.

24.  Bryon Russell: Russell spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Jazz, after being drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft.  During his 628 games, Russell averaged 9.2 points to go along with 3.8 rebounds and more than a steal a game.  Even though Russell was solid offensively, he makes the list because of his defensive ability.  Russell took the challenge to guard the other team’s best offensive player and was very effective.

23.  Rich Kelley: Kelley had two different stints with the Jazz.  The first four years came while the Jazz were in New Orleans, with the last three after they had moved to Utah.  In his seven years as a Jazz man, Kelley averaged 8.1 points and eight rebounds a game.  His best season came in 1978-79 when Kelley averaged 15.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.1 steals a game.

22.  Jim McElroy: McElroy was a member of the Jazz from 1976 to 1979 and was a big part of the team for all four of his seasons.  Like Kelley, McElroy’s best season came in 1978-79, when he averaged 16.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals a game.

21.  Donyell Marshall: Marshall only spent two seasons in Utah but had enough of an impact to make the top 25.  Marshall shot over 50% from the field in both of  his seasons, as well as averaging 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.  Marshall’s best season was his second in Utah, when he averaged 14.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks a game.

20.  Matt Harpring: Harpring spent seven seasons with the Jazz from 2003 to 2009 and was known for his solid mid-range jumper.  In 474 games in Utah, Harpring averaged 11.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists a night.  Harpring’s best year came in 2002-03, when he averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting better than 41% from behind the three-point line.

19.  Gail Goodrich: Goodrich spent his last three seasons in the NBA as a member of the Jazz, after being signed as a free agent in 1976.  Although his best years were behind him, Goodrich was still solid with the Jazz.  In his 182 games as a Jazz man, Goodrich averaged 14.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists a game.

18.  John Drew: Drew played for the Jazz from 1982-1985 which were his last three seasons in the league.  Drew only played 144 games in Utah at the end of his career but was still a great scorer.  He averaged 18.5 points to go along with 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists.  Not bad when you consider that Drew only played 24 minutes a game in a Jazz uniform.

17.  Al Jefferson: Many Jazz fans have very strong opinions about Jefferson’s ability as a player, but one thing is undeniable; Jefferson was a great offensive player.  “Big Al” spent three years with the Jazz and averaged 18.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, two assists and more than a block a game.  His best season came in year two, when Jefferson averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 blocks a game.

16.  Thurl Bailey: Bailey spent 10 years playing for the Jazz and is still with the organization today.  During his 708 games in Utah, Bailey averaged 14 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists while adding more than a block a game.  Bailey’s best year came in 1987-88, when he averaged 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 blocks a game, while coming off the bench.

15.  Jeff Malone: Malone spent four seasons with the Jazz and found the bottom of the net early and often.  From 1990 to 1994, Malone averaged 18.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists, while shooting better than 50% from the field.  His best year came in 1991-92, when Malone averaged 20.2 points a night on 51 percent shooting.

14.  Truck Robinson: Robinson only spent parts of two seasons as a member of the Jazz, but both were memorable.  In his only full season in New Orleans, Robinson led the league in minutes and rebounds per game, with a whopping 15.7 boards a game.  When you throw in the fact that Robinson averaged 22.7 points a night, including 14 games of 30 or more and played in the All-Star game, there is no doubt that he deserves to be on this list.

13.  Paul Millsap: Millsap has spent his first seven seasons in the NBA as a member of the Jazz after being a second round pick.  Millsap is a tenacious rebounder and hard-nosed player, who has developed a very nice offensive game over his time in Utah.  For his career, Millsap has averaged 12.4 points to go along with seven rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals a night.  His best season came in 2010-11, when Millsap averaged 17.3 points to go along with 7.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals while shooting better than 53% from the field.

12.  Rickey Green: Green spent eight years as the Jazz point guard before being replaced by John Stockton.  During his 606 games in Utah, Green averaged 11 points, 2.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.8 steals a game.  His best season came in 1983-84, when Green averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 assists while leading the NBA with 2.7 steals a night and playing in the All-Star game.  That’s quite impressive when you consider that Green was playing in the CBA when the Jazz picked him up.

11.  Mehmet Okur: “Memo” played seven seasons with the Jazz from 2004-2011 and is most well-known for his clutch three-point shooting.  Okur had a career year in 2005-06, when he averaged 18 points a game to go along with nine rebounds and 2.4 assists a night.  His most league wide recognition came just a year later when he played in the All-Star game.  For his career with the Jazz, Okur averaged 15.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists a night.

10.  Darrell Griffith: Griffith spent his entire NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz, after getting drafted with the second overall pick in the 1980 draft.  Griffith was a scoring machine in his first five seasons before a foot injury derailed his career.  Griffith averaged 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals a game for the Jazz.

9.  Andrei Kirilenko: Kirilenko played 681 games over ten seasons as a member of the Jazz and stuffed the stat sheet in just about every game.  Kirilenko was an All-Star in the 2003-04 season, when he averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.8 blocks a game.  During his time as a Jazz man, Kirilenko finished in the top three in blocks per game  three times, as well as placing fourth in the league in steals per game in 2003-04.  For his efforts, Kirilenko was named All-defensive first team once and second team twice.

8.  Mark Eaton: A one-time All-Star, Eaton spent his entire 11 NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz and was a defensive presence from day one.  Eaton led the NBA in blocks four times and still remains the NBA all-time leader in blocks per game.  For his efforts, Eaton was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year on two occasions, while being named NBA All-Defensive first-team three times and second team twice.  His best statistical season came in 1984-85, when Eaton averaged 9.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and an astronomical 5.6 blocks per game.

7.  Jeff Hornacek: Hornacek spent six and a half seasons as a member of the Jazz and was a huge piece of Utah’s two NBA final’s runs.  Hornacek was a terrific shooter from every spot on the floor, just missing out on being a 50%, 40% and 90% guy while on the Jazz.  While only shooting 10.4 shots a game in Utah, Hornacek still managed to average 14.4 points a game.  Hornacek was known for more than just his shooting though, as he averaged 2.8 rebounds, four assists and more than a steal a game.

6.  Carlos Boozer: Although most Jazz fans were happy to see Boozer leave, he was an excellent player in his six seasons in Utah, as shown by the fact that he was named to two All-Star teams.  The oft injured Boozer could really fill it up when he was healthy, averaging 19.3 points per game.  Boozer was also a work horse on the glass, averaging 10.5 rebounds a night.

5.  Deron Williams: Williams spent six seasons with the Jazz, after being drafted third overall in the 2005 draft.  Williams became a permanent starter midway through his rookie season and never looked back.  Williams was a two-time all-Star while he suited up for Utah and also finished in the top five in assists per game in five straight seasons.  For his Jazz career, Williams averaged 17.3 points to go along with 9.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds and more than a steal a game.

4.  Pete Maravich: Maravich spent six years as a member of the Jazz and was always a fan favorite, for his style and flair for the game.  During his 330 games in a Jazz uniform, Maravich averaged 25.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists a game, while being named to three straight All-Star games.  “Pistol Pete” also led the NBA in scoring in 1976-77 as a member of the Jazz, when he averaged 31.1 points a game.  For his efforts with the Jazz (and Atlanta Hawks), Maravich was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987.

3.  Adrian Dantley: Dantley played seven seasons with the Jazz from 1979-1986 and is still the all-time Jazz leader in points per game.  Dantley was named to six All-Star teams and was name All-NBA second team twice.  Dantley averaged more than 30 points a game for four straight seasons, while leading the entire NBA in scoring in two of those years.  For his Jazz career, Dantley averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and more than a steal a game, while shooting better than 56% from the field.  Dantley was inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

2.  John Stockton: Stockton spent his entire 19 year NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz and left the game as its all-time leader in assists and steals.  A ten time All-Star, Stockton led the NBA in assists per game for nine straight seasons while leading the league in steals per game twice.  Stockton was named to the All-Defensive second team, five times and made All-NBA first, second or third team 11 times.  For his efforts as a member of the Jazz, Stockton was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

1.  Karl Malone: The choice between Malone and Stockton was a difficult one, but what tipped the scales in Malone’s favor, were his two MVP awards.  Malone spent 18 seasons in a Jazz uniform and left as the second leading scorer in NBA history.  While never leading the NBA in points per game, Malone finished in the top five in 13 consecutive seasons.  Malone finished his career, being named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team 14 times to go along with being named to 14 All-Star teams.  Malone was also very solid on the defensive end, being named to the All-Defensive first team, three times as well as being named to the second team once.  Malone was inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s