After making a big splash in free agency with Bojan Bogdanovic, the Utah Jazz followed it up with a sneaky good signing in Ed Davis.
So, are we ready to declare the Utah Jazz the winners of the NBA offseason or what?
On the opening day of free agency, the Jazz followed up their big trade for point-man Mike Conley with one of the greatest free agent signings in team history in Bojan Bogdanovic. As a result, the Jazz offense now rates with the best in the league on paper, but the team didn’t stop there.
On Sunday evening, Utah capped off a strong day by adding big man Ed Davis with their room exception as well. That particular signing won’t steal any headlines, but believe me when I tell you it was low-key one of the best moves we saw on a day where more than 40 agreements were made.
At the least, it should take some of the sting out of losing a player who had become an institution with the franchise.
Jazz fans have long agonized over the prospect of losing Derrick Favors. Not only was he the longest tenured Jazzman, but he was also one of the most underrated players in the league. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18 points, 11 boards and 2.2 blocks last season — probably the best overall line of his career.
More than anything, his defensive ability, rebounding prowess and presence in the locker room and community will be missed.
However, in order to realize their potential offensively, the team needed a more versatile offensive threat with legitimate floor-spacing ability. They got that in Bogdanovic, but snagging the former Indiana Pacers sharpshooter required that the Jazz part with Favors.
The former No. 13 overall pick (from the same draft class as Favors) will be able to step right into Favors’ most crucial role as Rudy Gobert‘s back-up and provide a lot of the same skills at a fraction of the price.
He may not be the same kind of rim protector/switcher Favors was, but he’s a heady defender who will be in the right spot and give a yeoman’s effort. When Davis was on the court, his Brooklyn Nets conceded just 102.2 points per 100 possessions, the best mark on the team among rotation regulars.
He’s also an elite rebounder — even better than Favors — corralling 22 percent of available rebounds per NBA.com (Basketball Reference’s estimate had him even higher at just over 25 percent). Davis was top-three league-wide by either measure.
Offensively, you’re giving a bit more away as Davis isn’t quite on the same level as a finisher as Favors. He’s pretty close, though; Favors has been at over 74 percent within three feet of the hoop in each of the last two seasons and over 70 percent for his career, Davis is at 68 percent for his career.
Really, getting 80 percent of Favors’ ability on both sides of the ball at 30 percent of the cost is a major win. And, like Favors, Davis could play behind Favors or share the court with him.
The cherry on top with Davis is that he’s been a great locker room guy everywhere he’s gone, a fan favorite and someone who’s super engaged with community outreach, which is something the Jazz (and their fans) have always approached with great emphasis.
So, if you’re one of the downtrodden among the Jazzland masses, feel free to shed a tear or two for the loss of a great guy and a great player, but keep the faith. You’re going to love the guy who replaces him.