For a team in a smaller market like the Utah Jazz, adding high end talent through free agency is always going to be a more difficult task. That is why the Mike Conley trade was such a major win for the team. If Utah had simply entered free agency to try and acquire a point guard, they would have had to renounce the rights to multiple players on the roster and it still would not have been guaranteed that they could bring someone in. They might have gotten meetings with some interesting options, but the likelihood was always going to be that those players sign with a bigger market.
The Jazz chose to trade for a player with multiple years left on their contract in order to avoid the uncertainty of free agency, and that is always going to be the best option for a team like Utah. Pulling off the Mike Conley trade immediately vaulted the Jazz into title contention. What happened after the trade was simply a thing of beauty.
I wrote this about the Jazz after they acquired Mike Conley. Now with Bojan Bogdanovic they’ll be even better. Bogdanovic is a versatile scorer who thrives off-ball but can also flourish in pick-and-rolls. Quin Snyder will have fun designing this offense. https://t.co/7e3zBl0arl
— Kevin O’Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 30, 2019
With a core of Gobert, Mitchell and Conley, they Jazz capable of competing with anyone. The trade drastically reduced their depth, however, and the priority of free-agency was going to be building a team around that core. They struck quickly by bringing in four new players within the first 72 hours of free-agency. Bojan Bogdanovic was the biggest splash, as he signed to a 4-year, $73 Million with the Jazz within the first hour of free agency. Then came Ed Davis (2-year, $10 Mil), Jeff Green (1-year, $2.5 Mil), and finally Emmanuel Mudiay (1-year, $1.7 Mil).
Each player is player is going to bring something unique and effective to the table. For those who are fully invested in the Jazz but may not follow other teams closely, we’ll get you caught up on who each of these players are, and what they are going to be bringing to the table next year.
Bojan Bogdanovic – 6’8″ Small Forward/Power Forward
When Nikola Mirotic decided to spurn the NBA for greener pastures in Europe, the Utah Jazz had to turn their focus towards Bojan Bogdanovic as priority number one this off-season. The interest was clearly mutual on both ends, as the Jazz were able to complete the signing within the first hour of free agency.
For those who are unfamiliar with Bogdanovic, he is one of the true snipers in the NBA today. Since joining the league in 2014, he has never attempted less than three threes per game, but over the last several years has attempted five per game. An argument could honestly be made that he should shoot even more though, since he has been a career 39 percent shooter from three, and was even above 40 percent the last two seasons. Based on the role Jae Crowder was filling, it is reasonable to expect him to attempt more threes.
Last season, Jae Crowder attempted an impressive 6.5 threes per game last season, but only shot 33 percent on those. Despite Crowder’s low shooting percentage, the Jazz offense was always worlds better when he was on the floor, due in large part to the spacing it provided. Now just imagine that all of those attempts are going to be given to a player who shot 42.5 percent from three last season.
“Bogey” proved that he was more than just a floor spacer last year though. When Victor Oladipo went down with a ruptured quad on January 23, all hope seemed to be lost for the Pacers, who at that time were a top team in the East. Bogdanovic stepped into the lead role for that team and saved their playoff hopes. He increased his averages over the second half of the season to 20.6 points per game, and even with that increased workload, he was extremely efficient.
The defensive side of the ball is where you are going to see people wonder about his negative impact. He is one of those players who plays hard on the defensive side of the ball, but he has clear limitations. I have always said that the value of having Rudy Gobert is that you can take on the risk of player an offense only player.With Bogey surrounded by Conley, Mitchell, Ingles, and Gobert, all very good defensive players, they will be able to cover up any minor imperfections on that side of the ball.
With the Jazz, he will likely be the third scoring option behind Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley. That said, it is just another arsenal in Utah’s new and improved offensive army. The space he will provide is going to open up lanes that Mitchell and Conley have never dreamed of, and it will also stop teams from doubling Rudy Gobert on roles to the basket. At 30-years old already, there is a chance that he will be overpaid by the end of this deal. The immediate benefits of the deal are going to vault the Jazz into immediate title contention however.
Ed Davis – 6’10” Power Forward/Center
Ed Davis only played 18 minutes a game last year with the Brooklyn Nets, but he averaged 8.6 rebounds per game.
I feel like I need to say that again, just to really emphasize how insane that is. 18 minutes a game. 8.6 rebounds per game. That’s about 2 rebounds per minute of playing time, and in the average NBA minute, there are maybe 3 possessions.The point is, while Ed Davis may not be a star, he has an elite level talent of rebounding the ball. Especially on the offensive glass.
Instead of focusing on what Ed Davis can’t do for the @UtahJazz — score — we focus on what he can do — pretty much all of the other backup center things.https://t.co/ypixNl1TuS
— The Salt Lake Tribune (@sltrib) July 4, 2019
Ed Davis was selected in the 2010 draft by the Toronto Raptors with the 13th overall selection, and since then has been bounced around the league quite a few times. Andy Larson summed it up nicely in the piece above, saying:
That’s where we are in the career of Ed Davis. The Utah Jazz considered picking Davis — the No. 13 pick of the 2010 NBA draft — instead of Gordon Hayward back then. Given a chance to play a lot of minutes and even start in Toronto, he found himself getting benched in crunch time, then was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the Rudy Gay deal.
Then, the Grizzlies let him go for nothing, and he signed with the Lakers on a one-year deal for the minimum. He played OK there, enough to earn a $7 million-per-year deal with the Blazers. But once again, Portland was comfortable moving on, and he went to Brooklyn on a one-year deal last year. Now, Davis has been forced out of Brooklyn’s cap situation to make room for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, and he has signed with the Jazz.
Although he has been shuffled around a lot in his career, he became one of the more valuable and sought after big man free agents on the market. He may be destined to be a backup and has never scored more than 8.3 points per game in a season, but his skills will bring value to any team.
Losing Derrick Favors was not nothing for the Jazz. His absence will be felt next season. That said, Ed Davis can mitigate that loss with his elite level rebounding and defense. He doesn’t put up eye popping block and steal numbers. Even if you stretch his numbers to per 36, he averaged just .8 blocks and .9 steals per game last season. His impact on that side of the floor is still felt strongly though. He is extremely long and mobile, which allows him to effect shots in the post, while also being able to guard quicker players out on the perimeter. Opponents attempted 3.8 percent less shots at the rim when he was on the floor, and 3.9 percent more in the mid-range. His Defensive RPM was second in the entire NBA last season, behind only Rudy Gobert.
Even if he only plays 18 minutes a game, his positive impact is going to be felt on the floor next season.
Jeff Green – 6’9″ Small Forward/Power Forward
Jeff Green might have the best highlight reel of any non-star in the entire NBA. He has made a habit of flying in for gravity defying dunks and loves nothing more than to go out of his way to put someone on a poster. For a long time though, that’s all it was. Incredible highlights, but overall performances that left you wanting more. Over the last two seasons, Green has quietly found his true calling in the NBA, as a role player off the bench. That’s not meant to be a knock on him. Some players are just better suited for smaller roles off the bench, and they can make a large impact in that role.
Early on in his career, Green was supposed to be the Kevin Durant’s sidekick. While he always looked like a star, he never fulfilled that role. The Thunder decided to move on from him, and he was given a fresh start in Boston. After having to have open heart surgery and missing the entire 2011-12 season, it’s a miracle that he is still in the league today. Green shared his experience through a Player Tribune article, and said, “In one day, everything I knew about my body had changed. And all the confidence I had felt about maintaining this body had been completely drained. Standing in front of the mirror, I started crying. It was hitting me — this is forever.” To go from those emotions to where he is now is an incredible accomplishment.
Post-Heart Surgery, he came back and was playing some of the best basketball of his career. He had a two year stretch when he averaged 17 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game for the Celtics. He was then shipping off to the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2015-16 season, and has played for a different team every year since. He went from Boston to Memphis to LA to Orlando to Cleveland and finally to the Wizards this past season.
At this point in time, Jeff Green might just be underrated.
I do NOT understand how and why Jeff Green keep signing these 1 year deals for the minimum. This is now 3 years in a row. He’s never injured, He’s never been a problem in the locker room, He’s athletic, he can shoot the 3, he can guard multiple positions and he’s not old 🤷🏾♂️.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 3, 2019
Let’s try and look at Green for what he really is, and what he will be bringing the team next season. Even at 32 years old, he still has elite level athleticism. He is 6’9″, has a 7’1″ wingspan, and weighs around 240 pounds. Those measurements coupled with his athleticism allow him the ability to defend all five positions. Literally. He even played the center position at times for the Wizards last year. He’s not a lock-down defender by any means, but he is capable, and versatile.
Offensively, he is still a high level athlete who can put pressure on a defense by attacking the rim. The Jazz seem to have a team who can get out into the open floor and run, and that is one of Green’s biggest strengths. At 34 percent, he is a slightly below average three-point shooter, but he is someone who defenses at least have to account for. He is actually extremely similar to Jae Crowder as far as shooting goes. He’ll need to work on moving the ball, but if he can buy into his role and Quin Snyder’s system, he’s going to be one of the bargain steals of free agency.
Emmanuel Mudiay – 6’5″ Point Guard
I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, this was the shocker of free agency. When the news broke that the Utah Jazz had signed Emmanuel Mudiay to a 1-year contract, I initially didn’t believe it. He just didn’t seem like the type of player the Jazz would need, let alone target.
Then I heard the story of how he ended up signing with the Jazz, and my whole perspective on Mudiay changed.
Only four years ago, Mudiay was coming out of high school as the number one point guard prospect in the country. Instead of going to play in college, he decided to sign a 1-year contract to play oversees in China, and was then selected with the number 7 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Since then, he has never been able to live up to lofty expectations. In fact, he put together one of the most inefficient rookie seasons in the history of the NBA. After just two and a half seasons with the Denver Nuggets, they shipped him off to the New York Knicks. In his first full season with the Knicks, he had an impressive season for his standards. Given the opportunity to start, he averaged nearly 15 points, 4 assist and 3.3 rebounds. He also had a career year shooting the ball, thanks in large part to an improved mid-range game. It’s obviously not an analytically friendly shot, but when you shoot 48 percent on shots taken between 10 feet and the three-point line, it makes a bad shot a good shot.
Despite those improvements, the Knicks showed no real desire to retain him in free-agency. That allowed Mudiay and his agent to reach out to the Jazz to express their interest in signing with a team and an organization that they felt could help his development the most.
That is what changed my opinion of Mudiay. There are a lot of area for improvement in his game, and he may never pan out, but I can respect a player who is humble an enough to recognize that those improvement opportunities are there. He chose to come to play with the Jazz knowing he may not have a large opportunity to play, but also believing that the developmental staff and culture could benefit his career going forward.
He needs to take and make more analytically friendly shots. He needs to make better passes and turn the ball over less. He needs to be focused on the defensive side of the ball and use his size and length to his advantage. Oh, and the Jazz only signed him to a 1-year deal, so he needs to make those improvements fast. If he can, at just 23 years old, he could prove to be a terrific signing for the Jazz.
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