The annual NBA.com GM Survey recently came out, and you’ll never guess what the league’s top front-office executives are saying about the Utah Jazz.
OK, I could barely type that sentence with a straight face.
You can guess.
NBA GMs had very little to say about the Jazz outside of the things we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years.
They like the Jazz’s defense (but not as much as some other teams).
They like Rudy Gobert (but not as much as fans and The Stifle Tower would like them to).
They like Utah’s home-court advantage (or don’t like it, but that’s a compliment).
And, of course, they like the Jazz’s chances to win it all.
Sorry, I had to throw that last sentence in to see if you were actually reading carefully or if you were paying attention to the ads on this page — and, hey, my hungry kids and mortgage company won’t complain if you were only doing the latter.
OK, enough about our sponsors. Here’s a look at the 12 times Utah was mentioned in the 2017-18 survey — and, sorry Jazz fans, but your team isn’t among the favorite NBA finalists (Golden State and Cleveland, shocker) nor does it have an MVP candidate (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Stephen Curry are the favorites):
• Most snubbed center
OK, GMs didn’t actually vote for Gobert in this fake-news category, but they might as well have.
The Jazz big man seemingly took it personal — and of course, he did, it’s one of his endearing qualities — that he was slightly slighted in some of the categories. For instance:
In the Best Center category, the top vote-getters were Karl-Anthony Towns (28 percent), Anthony Davis (24 percent), Marc Gasol (21 percent) and DeMarcus Cousins (14 percent).
Gobert didn't even finish top four (nor did Draymond Green, Nikola Jokic and DeAndre Jordan, who split the remaining 13 percent with the Jazz center).
Gobert took it personal when somebody brought that up on Twitter, which seems to be a good thing because he uses stuff like this to stoke his competitive fire.
“They didn’t consider me a top 26 pick either,” he tweeted with an emoji of a man shrugging.
Gobert, who was picked 27th before being traded to Utah in that fateful 2013 draft and wears that jersey number as a constant prove-everyone-wrong reminder, might not be quite as motivated by his placement in a couple of other categories.
Sure, he likely wasn’t thrilled that Leonard ran away with the Best Defender category (62 percent), with Green (21 percent) also finishing ahead of the Jazz center. But Gobert was a very respectable third with 10 percent of the vote.
And the 7-foot-1 defensive beast was tabbed as the top interior defender — as in No. 1 with 66 percent of the landslide vote — besting Jordan (24 percent) and honorable mentions Davis, Gasol and Green.
• Best defensive team
1. Golden State (55 percent); 2. San Antonio (34 percent); 3. Utah (7 percent); 4. Oklahoma City (3 percent).
• Best manager/motivator head coach
The top three include Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Erik Spoelstra, while Quin Snyder was among others — Scott Brooks, Rick Carlisle and Brad Stevens — to also receive votes.
Snyder finished tied for third for coaches with best defensive schemes, with Popovich and Tom Thibodeau leading the way. Kerr and Spoelstra rounded out the top five with Q.
• Best assistant coach
Snyder will be the first to tell you he has a terrific staff, and the GMs recognize that. Former Ute Alex Jensen and Eurobasket champion coach Igor Kokoskov (Slovenia’s bench boss) both received votes. Top vote-getters included Ron Adams (Warriors), Ettore Messina (Spurs), Mike Brown (Warriors) and David Vanterpool (Blazers).
• Biggest rookie steal by draft position
Dennis Smith Jr. was picked ninth by Dallas, but GMs project that he will be the steal of this class. The next three players all have Utah ties: Kyle Kuzma, the 27th selection, received 22 percent of the vote; while Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell (13th) and former Salt Lake resident Caleb Swanigan (26th) each got 7 percent.
• Player most likely to have a breakout season
Fourth-year shooting guard Rodney Hood was among the players to receive votes, and he could play a major role in Gordon Hayward’s absence. Leader: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (21 percent)
• Best passer
Ricky Rubio wasn’t passed up by the GMs. He finished in the top five, tied for third with Harden and John Wall and behind James and Chris Paul.
• Best home-court advantage
Golden State was the outright champion here even though the Jazz beat them in Oakland last April. Others in the mix: OKC, San Antonio, Denver, Toronto and Utah with its fancy upgraded digs.