The Utah Jazz are one of the most popular teams in the NBA and are known for their stellar defense that suffocates even the best of the offenses. After going on a six-year drought where they failed to make it to the postseason, they have made it to the playoffs in their last two seasons and are on course this year too.
The Jazz play in the Western Conference, and although they have not won a championship so far, they have won two conference titles and nine division titles and it is safe to say that they are an exciting team to watch.
Some great NBA players have donned the Jazz jersey and spent their prime time with the franchise. In this article, we take a look at the five best Jazz players since 2000.
#5 Andrei Kirilenko
Andrei Kirilenko is widely regarded as the best defensive player to have ever played for the Jazz and there is a reason for it. He averaged 10.5 rebounds over his six seasons in Utah and finished in the top 10 in the association in rebounds three times.
When he was drafted in 1999, he became the first Russian player to be drafted in the first round of NBA draft and the youngest European player ever drafted. In his rookie year, he earned All-Rookie First Team honours after averaging 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
In 2005, he led the league in blocks per game with 3.3 BPG and made it to the All-Defensive Second Team for the second straight year. In his 10 seasons in Utah, he averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
#4 Carlos Boozer
Arguably one of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game, Carlos Boozer mastered the art of the pick-and-roll along with Deron Williams, and always finished strong at the rim. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 35th overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft.
Boozer transitioned from a second round pick into a two-time All-Star during his stint in Utah and played his greatest basketball with the franchise. After spending six seasons with the team, he averaged 19.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
He played a huge role in the Jazz making it to four straight playoffs appearances and although they could not win a championship, they did make some noise in the playoffs. In 2010, the Chicago Bulls acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal from Utah. It is worth mentioning that he won the NCAA Championship in 2001 while playing for Duke.
#3 Rudy Gobert
From a 27th overall pick to winning the Defensive Player of the Year, it is safe to say Rudy Gobert has performed beyond expectations and elevated his game to a whole another level. In his rookie season, he just averaged 2.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in little over 9.0 minutes of action.
Gobert has slowly transitioned into one of the best scorers in the paint and a reliable shot-blocking threat, and led the league in blocks per game in 2016-17 with 2.6 BPG. It was also the year when he won the Defensive Player of the Year award and helped the team to reach the Conference semifinals.
In 2016, he signed a four-year, $102 million contract extension with the Jazz and for the team to taste any post-season success, they will need to get everything they can from the 26-year-old center.
#2 Deron Williams
Deron Williams may not be playing in the NBA right now, but he was flashy, and entertained the fans when he was in the league. Drafted by the Utah Jazz with the third overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft, he was one of the best point guards in his prime, and led the Jazz to four straight playoffs appearances, including the 2007 playoffs when the Jazz reached the Western Conference Finals.
He had some great duels with Chris Paul and even outplayed him on most occasions. In his six seasons with the franchise, he averaged 17.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.
Williams was traded by the organisation to the Brooklyn Nets in 2011 and it brought his great run with the franchise to an end. He then went on to play for several teams later in his career but could not replicate the same amount of success.
#1 Donovan Mitchell
While it might be strange to call a player in his second season the greatest Jazz player since 2000, Donovan Mitchell is the leader of the franchise at the age of 22 and is expected to have a decorated career in the NBA, barring any serious injuries. In is rookie year, he was involved in a close battle for the Rookie of the Year award with Ben Simmons, and even though he missed it, a lot of people called it a snub.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last year and even led the Utah Jazz past the first round of playoffs. None of the NBA fans will forget the way he single-handedly led the attack against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which had three All-Stars on it.
For a 13th overall pick to be doing the kind of stuff he's doing on the court is definitely a great accomplishment, and the entire NBA universe needs to watch out as this kid gets ready to takeover the league.