It’s that time of year; a time to drink egg nog and make lists of all the things we want other people to buy us. So I’ve decided to create a small list of what every Utah Jazz fan should have on their wish lists.
As if it wasn’t sad enough to lose Dante Exum before the season even began, the Stifle Tower will miss some significant time due to a MCL sprain he suffered in practice. While the timetable for his return is unclear, there is still an assumption that Gobert will not require surgery in order to heal properly. Fortunately, the Jazz have entered a favorable stretch in their schedule and should still be in the hunt by the time Gobert returns. Before the injury, Gobert was almost averaging a double-double and was tallying 2.6 blocks per game. His rim protection was incredible and will be sorely missed. Despite an easier schedule than in the month of November, Jazz fans should have a healthy Gobert high on their wish lists.
Of the things on a Jazz fan’s wish list, having Derrick Favors appear in the All-Star game is something the fans can give themselves — by voting for the big man. By all statistical measures, Derrick Favors should be an All-Star. If he were in a bigger market and appeared in more nationally televised games, it wouldn’t even be a question. It’s not as though Favors is completely ignored by the media, but the casual basketball fan still doesn’t realize how good Favors has been thus far. He’s one of 11 players who is averaging at least 17 points and eight rebounds per game. Only three of the 11 players in that group have not been an All-Star; Favors, Andre Drummond (who will be voted an All-Star this year) and rookie Jahlil Okafor. But Favors has not only been phenomenal on offense, but has continued to be an incredible defender. Opposing players’ shooting percentage dips 6.2 percent when being defended by Favors. He obviously holds his own in the post and does very well when having to step away and defend on the perimeter. Favors is absolutely deserving of an All-Star berth, and Jazz fans should want to reward their big man with the gift of being selected to play with the league’s best.
Above all else, the Utah Jazz faithful should want to see their team back in the playoffs. A postseason berth would mean so much to both the team and the fans. First, if the team fails to make the playoffs, this current drought would become the team’s second longest stretch without making the playoffs in their history. Second, if Utah does make the playoffs, it would be validation of the team’s rebuilding vision, not only for the fans, but for the players and front office as well. Much has been said about the improvement players like Favors and Gordon Hayward have made each and every year they’ve been in the league, but the reason these players dedicate themselves is to win championships and the first step is to make the playoffs. Every Jazz fan needs to have the playoffs at the very top of the Christmas wish list.
The beautiful thing is that all three of these things are deeply connected. A healthy Rudy Gobert and an All-Star level Derrick Favors would almost certainly propel the Jazz into the playoffs, with the potential to make some noise depending on their seeding. While none of these things could be unwrapped on Christmas day, all of them are worth the wait.