Category Archives: Utah Jazz

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THE 35 GREATEST PLAYER’S I’VE SEEN IN THE NBA

Jay C. Brandriet

7/1/18

This is not an all time list. It’s not even a “my time” list. There are several players I watched that I did not include (Kareem. Moses, and more).  I wanted to focus on those I felt I saw at their best.  It’s a challenge not to list about 125 guys. Here are the 35 I’d claim are the best I’ve seen to date. Kyrie, Dominique, and Alonzo Mourning just missed the cut.

 

#35- TRACY MCGRADY – If you can score 13 points in 35 seconds to beat the Spurs, you’re hired.

#34- JAMES WORTHY– I picture him waving the ball around like it’s a grape fruit. First step, spin move, two points.

#33- PAUL PIERCE- I always thought of Paul as a grind it out, low-level superstar. In the end, he had a phenomenal career.

#32- GRANT HILL- He was such a big deal as a new age point forward. As an older player, Grant became a defensive guy.

#31- KEVIN MCHALE– Karl Malone and Charles Barkley both called McHale their toughest matchup. Kevin was a back to the basket stud.

#30- JASON KIDD- Pushing the ball with that hard dribble, J Kidd had eyes everywhere.

#29- CHRIS WEBBER – His hands were basketball magnets. Sensational passer. Chris hit the top five player level in the pros.

#28- GARY PAYTON – In his defensive crouch, Palms showing. Rocking his head side to side, and chewing his gum like the cockiest man alive. “The glove” was legit.

#27- JAMES HARDEN – Point flurry’s, step back threes, makes you foul him…Harden is an offensive witch.

#26- RUSSELL WESTBROOK- More than all these triple doubles, Westbrook’s competitive fire is the story.

#25- PATRICK EWING- Patrick had the size, rugged traits, and one of the most elegant shots from the baseline.

It’s a joke Chris Webber is not in the Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#24- SCOTTIE PIPPEN- On six title teams, Pippen ranged anywhere from the third to twelfth best player in the world.

#23- CLYDE DREXLER- Clyde was a classic aerial player and finisher at the basket. Rare Drexler note: He finished in the top ten in steals, seven times.

#22- STEVE NASH- He almost glided as he ran. Nash was a degree of difficulty shot maker, and his percentages are clean.

#21- KAWHI LEONARD- Before he went down with injury last May, I thought Kawhi was ready to challenge LeBron James as the best in the game.

#20- ALLEN IVERSON- His blinding quickness, aggressiveness, and long arms made him so unique.  Iverson mopped up the floor with his body.

#19- CHRIS PAUL- He competes like he wants to bite your face off. Chris has led the league in steals six times.

#18- JOHN STOCKTON- He destroyed bigger people fighting through picks. John’s precision and decision-making were an art.

#17- ISIAH THOMAS Isiah played the game like he knew he was being watched. He was a showman, built for the big moment.

     

At this point, Steph Curry does not need the validation of a “Finals MVP trophy”. Dude is brilliant.

                                                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

#16- CHARLES BARKLEY- He shot 58 percent from the field over his first six seasons. Chuck’s work on the boards is still baffling for his height.

#15- DIRK NOWITZKI- His Finals MVP performance in 2011, is etched in my mind as true greatness. Five players in history have more points than Dirk,

#14- DWYANE WADE- I remember those hesitation dribble moves, before he’d explode to the hoop. Wade was a  closer from day one.

#13- DAVID ROBINSON – Robinson was chiseled, mobile, and cat quick. He owns the NBA’s last quadruple-double.

#12- KARL MALONE – “The Mailman” running the outside lane, and rattling the rim  in his early days was a scary sight.

#11- KEVIN GARNETT- One of the most versatile players to live. KG wouldn’t even let the other team score, after the whistle.

#10-STEPHEN CURRY- He became the first player to attempt a three point shot from 29 feet….early in the shot clock…and it still felt responsible.

#9- KEVIN DURANT- Looking at Durant’s controversial move a couple years ago, he’s now covered himself by his June performances.

#8- TIM DUNCAN- Tim was a coaches dream. Poise. Brains. Worker. Unselfish.  All time winner.

#7- SHAQUILLE O’NEAL- Shaq couldn’t be guarded in his prime. He was an automatic dunk, and led the NBA in field goal percentage ten times.

#6- HAKEEM OLAJUWON- At his apex, his offense and defense were both a ten. He covered space in the blink of an eye.

“Dream” is the best defensive player I have seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5- LARRY BIRD– For all the attributes he brought to the game, Bird also had an intimidating swagger.

#4- KOBE BRYANT- For my money, the most over all skilled player in NBA history.

#3-MAGIC JOHNSON- Most fitting nickname in all of sports.

#2- LEBRON JAMES- Think of the career he has had. LeBron will dominate for at least five more years and it’s mind-blowing.

#1- MICHAEL JORDAN – From what I’ve seen over 32 seasons, Jordan is the clear standard by which basketball excellence is measured.

 

Jay C. Brandriet

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THE 25 BEST PLAYERS IN UTAH JAZZ HISTORY

Jay C. Brandriet

2/22/18

I’m grateful to have grown up in the same city as the Utah Jazz. While they have yet to win a world championship, the story of the NBA can not be told without them. Larry H. Miller, Jerry Sloan and others have created a culture that has been emulated by many.  Here is my version of the franchises 25 best players. I’m only factoring in each guys time playing for the Jazz (including New Orleans).

 

#25- MATT HARPRING (474 games) Harpring was a hard-nosed player who brought stability with 15 footers off of a curl play. Matt enjoyed irritating Carmelo Anthony. 

#24- BRYON RUSSELL (628 games) Bryon was the 45th overall pick in 1993. His 32 minutes a game in a ton of post season contests is why he beat out Donyell Marshall and John Drew for this spot on the list.

#23- RICH KELLEY (497 games) Kelley’s most productive year for the Jazz came with him scoring 15.7 points. He was also second in the NBA in rebounds (12.8) and eighth in blocked shots (2.1).

#22- GAIL GOODRICH ( 182 games) After an excellent career, Gail played his last three seasons in New Orleans. He could still fill it up. His best ever field goal shooting (49.5 percent) came with the Jazz in 1977-78.

#21- TRUCK ROBINSON (125 games) Len “Truck” Robinson made his time with the Jazz count. He averaged 23 points and 15 rebounds in his two seasons in New Orleans. The 6’7″ Robinson was invited to the All Star game in 1978.

#20- DERRICK FAVORS (478 games) Favors is a stout presence protecting the paint. He has also has shown value at center. Derrick has very good hands and continues to seem like an x factor in the team’s success.

#19- AL JEFFERSON (221 games) Al Jefferson will not go down as the biggest of names in basketball circles. With that said, Al could score and rebound in any city. In three campaigns with Utah, he dropped 18.5 points and pulled down 9.5 boards a night.  

During the 2018 All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, the league was buzzing about Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

#18- DONOVAN MITCHELL (55 games) Mitchell has arrived! Mature. Playmaker. Clutch player. His rookie awards won’t mean much long-term. This guy will end up in the Hall of Fame.

#17- MEHMET OKUR (474 games) Memo once put on a two month run of clutch shooting that would have made Larry Bird blush a little.

#16- JEFF MALONE (279 games) Malone had a remarkable ability to score, falling backwards. In his four years in Utah, Jeff shot 88.1 percent from the free throw line.

#15- PAUL MILLSAP (540 games) Paul was another drafting gem the Jazz can be proud of (47th overall in 2006). He’s the classic lunch pail player who has turned into a low-level NBA star.

#14- THURL BAILEY (708 games) Thurl was consistent. Old reliable. He was one of the best sixth men of his generation. Over the 1988 and 89 seasons he scored 19.5 points a night. Bailey made himself available in the community and fans in Salt Lake City love the man.

#13- RUDY GOBERT (301 games) The impact he makes on an NBA game is quietly all time great. The skill and the wingspan are outrageous. Rudy’s intense desire to compete is why the franchise trusts him.

Jeff helped the Jazz win 15 straight road games. He played in 100 playoff games and two slug fest Finals with the Chicago Bulls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#12- GORDON HAYWARD (516  games) In his seventh season in Utah, Hayward grew into one of the 25 best players in the world.

#11- RICKEY GREEN (606 games) I can still hear Hot Rod Hundley yelling, “the fastest of them all.” Green had three straight steals seasons of 2.3, 2.8, and 2.7 per game.

#10- CARLOS BOOZER (354 games) In May 2007, Carlos scored 35 points, and grabbed 14 rebounds in a game 7 at Houston. He also had memorable big game battles with Gasol and Odom where he held his own. I would often watch Boozer from 20 feet away. His high arcing baseline jumper was automatic.

#9- ANDREI KIRILENKO (681 games) “AK-47” was an exotic talent. He was like an elastic band being shot out of a cannon. Kirilenko’s  help defense and shot blocking made him a league wide stand out. Some of his all around talents, left him in statistical categories only he and Hakeem Olajuwon share.

#8- DARRELL GRIFFITH (765 games) The 1981 NBA Rookie of the Year, Griffith was an offensive star for five seasons before an injury. Darrell and his chain were 1980’s cool. His athletic play and rainbow jumpers are a popular memory in Jazz lore.

#7- MARK EATON (875 games) He was never appreciated by Jazz fans while he was active. Mark was the Defensive Player of the Year twice, and made five All-Defensive teams. He led the NBA in blocks four times. Eaton’s 5.6 rejections per game in 1984-85 is the best shot blocking season in NBA history.

#6- JEFF HORNACEK (477 games) His handles made Stockton’s life easier. Jeff’s sweet passing was over shadowed by his ability to shoot. Hornacek had the gift of ridiculous, crafty shot making.

#5- DERON WILLIAMS (439 games)  For a small window of time, Williams was the best point guard in the NBA. I always trusted his outside shot. Deron’s level in Utah, landed him on the Olympic “Redeem Team” in 2008.

#4- PETE MARAVICH (330 games) Arguably the most important model of showmanship the game has ever seen. “Pistol Pete” added an artful texture to basketball’s history. It’s awesome he played for the Jazz.

#3- ADRIAN DANTLEY (461 games)  AD would spin the ball in his hands, rock you to sleep, and score buckets for a living. He averaged 29.6 points on 56.2 percent shooting from the floor in his Jazz career. Dantley carried the Jazz organization before they were a true contender.

#2- JOHN STOCKTON (1,504 games) I loved to watch John think the game. His decision-making was so good, it seemed tangible. Most would be surprised John scored just under 20,000 points and hit 51.5 percent of his field goals. Stockton crushed bigger people’s bodies fighting through screens for two decades.

 

The two most durable players of all time. It’s so difficult to separate who is better. I took Karl’s power over John’s clutch play

#1- KARL MALONE (1,434 games) “The Mailman” led the Western conference in scoring six times. Malone may be the best player ever, without a ring. Red Auerbach said of Karl, “He’s a 6’9″, 260 pound monster, who runs the break like a deer.”

 

 

Jay C. Brandriet

 

 

LEBRON DOESN’T REMIND ME OF ANY ONE PLAYER, HE REMINDS ME OF SIX

Jay C. Brandriet

Trying to compare LeBron James to another player I’ve seen is impossible. There has never been anyone quite like him in pro basketball. He’s so unique it took these six great players to explain how I see him.

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Like Magic, James knows who needs the ball next. Like Malone, he often gets over with power.

KARL MALONE (25%)  Have you ever seen the 6’9″, 260 lb. Karl Malone filling the outside lane on the fast break? Scary! His body was a weapon and nobody delivered at the rim like “The Mailman”. When you look at LeBron in transition you see something similar. He’s a freight train and it might be smart to move aside. I watched Karl score 37,000 points and many of them were playing “bully ball” like James has. They each seal defenders off down low, and guys bounce off their muscles. They both hit about 74% of their foul shots. LeBron is durable and sometimes seems bionic. He will get hurt, and will be running full speed a few minutes later. Malone played 80 or more games an incredible 17 times.

 

EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON (30%)

Among the greatest passers, my favorite was Magic. He was the ultimate conductor and it seemed like he had four guys on a string. LeBron, like Magic before him is obsessed with making his teammates better. They both lead with joy and a brain for the game. James was a share first guy from day one, and is one of the elite passers in his own right. He comes up with crafty stuff, especially getting the ball cross court. The King and Magic are also a perfect match as rebounders. LeBron seems to go the Finals every year, a place Johnson found himself 9 times over 12 seasons.

 

SCOTTIE PIPPEN (15%)

It’s the point forward thing. Mostly it’s that Scottie Pippen was a defensive terror with athleticism and length. He could matchup all over the floor. LeBron can check anyone in the league in a pinch. His defensive versatility is arguably his most impressive trait.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN (20%)

Michael Jordan took what he wanted when driving to the hole. He’d pull up and go glass, go around you, over you, and even through you. LeBron James is unstoppable driving to the basket. Finesse and power come together in harmony. Nobody had energy like Jordan. He only slept four hours a night during his prime. Dropping 22 in the final quarter, while shutting down his man was just another Tuesday night for Mike. King James is producing a new kind of energy. He has a body and a skill set that has him on pace to be great at an older age than anyone in NBA history. In his 15th pro season, LBJ is slapping father time in the face.

Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. It was not because he was 6-0 in the Finals….He actually just played basketball better than everyone else has. As LeBron ages, he reminds me more of Michael now than ever.

 

CLYDE DREXLER (5%)

LeBron also has a smooth side. I think of Clyde “The glide” at his best. Drexler would spin and lay it in pretty. He may dunk it from 10 feet out, or swoop in for a timely finger roll.

 

DWYANE WADE (5%)

On a professional and personal level LeBron and D Wade are close and share a lot of beliefs and history inside the game. Both guys are explosive scorers. Their similar styles were evident in the alley-oop connection they displayed in Miami. King James is a much better clutch player than his reputation suggests.

Jay C. Brandriet

12/5/17