Jimbo’s Mailbag – Who Will be the Surprise Jazz Player Next Season?

July 15th, 2016 | by Jimbo Rudding
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the next edition of Jimbo’s Mailbag! At Salt City Hoops, we know that covering a team without any humor can be dreary. As such, we decided to add a little bit more levity to our site via Jimbo’s unique outlook on the world of Jazz basketball. Jimbo, by virtue of being recently featured in the Deseret News, is now the world’s most famous Utah-based basketball mailbag artist. Interested in submitting a question to Jimbo’s mailbag? Email it to Jimbo at mailbag@saltcityhoops.com or tweet @JimboRudding to appear.

Q: We went from hip-knock 70’s to high-five 80’s to fist-bump 90’s to jump-in-air-and-collide 2000’s. What’s next? I can’t wait!


We can all agree that teammate celebrations are the icing on top of the sports cupcake. Watching athletes gleefully interact with each other and wishing I was one of them is pretty much how I spent most of my childhood.

My favorite old-school celebratory interaction was the one where two guys would go to high-five and then purposefully miss hands and then bend over and grab and shake the other’s ankle. Now, if THAT doesn’t say, “Congratulations at doing well at sports!” then I don’t know what does.

There are many possibilities when it comes to celebrating with sports teammates. However, we all need to realize that the possibilities AREN’T endless. So don’t get too over-the-top excited about what could be. I mean, yes, there are a lot of possibilities, but eventually you would get to the end of those possibilities. I guess what I’m trying to say is, there are limited possibilities and we should always keep that in mind. That’s it.

Anyway… back to the topic–

Here are a few NBA celebrations that I wouldn’t mind seeing in the near future:

  • One player licks his index finger and then touches his or her rear while making the “ssssss” sound. Then another player goes, “You are SMOKIN, bro!” or something like that. I don’t know—it’s just an idea.
  • Two players face each other and make the lollipop “popping” sound by putting their index fingers inside their mouths and then popping their cheek. Then maybe they could touch index fingers together while making the “ssssss” sound? (This suggestion may be for mature audiences only.)
  • Maybe a low-five, but using a couple of boat oars you have hidden behind the bench and when they smack together both players make the “ssssss” sound?
  • Players make eye contact and then just scream into each other’s faces. First one to pass out or get woozy has to buy donuts after the game.
  • Just a long hug that makes everyone in the arena uncomfortable, but for some reason doesn’t seem to bother the TV audience.
  • Players touch elbows and yell, “BROTHERS!” (I may be running out of ideas here.)
  • The whole team does the funky chicken until someone on the coaching staff asks them to stop.
  • A player says to another player, “Splendid work out there! Let’s get some fajitas after this!” and then they both pretend to burn their hands on a hot fajita plate while making the “ssssss” sound.

Remember, these ideas are all a work in progress. Actually, I haven’t really “worked” on any of them at all and they haven’t really progressed beyond me typing them out just now, so really they’re just ideas and please don’t expect anyone to ever do any of them. However, I have legally copyrighted all of them in case there’s a chance I could make money off of these ideas at a later date. So, proceed with caution is all I’m trying to say.


Q: If the Jazz were forced to play a zoo animal on the court at all times, which animal would give them the best chance to win a title?


I wish this was an actual thing back in the 80’s because I’m sure the Jazz front office would’ve gladly replaced Jim Les with a baby giraffe. Ugh, that guy was the WORST.

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many animals to choose from. I know that all two of you reading this will think that the best animal to choose would be an ape or orangutan because of their large wingspan and strong legs, but you’d be wrong. Orangutans would freak out with the amount of people and the noise in the arena. They’re also notorious for not taking criticism well, so they’d have a hard time being coached.

If I were forced to pick the animal that would give the Jazz the best chance to win a title I would pick an ostrich. Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • They only poop once every 60 hours, so there’s a very slim chance of any need to stop play to clean up messes on the court.
  • They’re quick as a whistle.
  • They’re agile as a whistle.
  • They will stop playing once a whistle is blown.
  • Even though they are incapable of flight, they can jump extremely high.
  • Many adult ostriches have been known to dunk in their natural habitat.
  • They’re hard workers.
  • They’re digestive systems can tolerate Glacier Freeze Gatorade.
  • They can mentally block out hecklers.
  • They feed off the crowd and also many types of seeds.
  • Don’t ask me how, but they can block shots.
  • When it comes to rebounding, they have a real beak for the ball.
  • They kick and bite fast enough that many times the refs won’t catch it.
  • Their feathers act as an irritant to human skin.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if the Jazz were forced to play an ostrich, an NBA title would be instantly attainable. Can you imagine LeBron or Dwight Howard trying to box out one of those suckers? Before the game was even over the ostrich would probably have eaten like three headbands and a few arm sleeves. Not to mention the pecking injuries. Man, the more I think of this, the more I like the idea.


Q: Which summer league players do you think have a real shot at making the NBA?


Great question! There are quite a few players this year who have had some stellar moments in summer league. It sounds like our old friend Jimmer Fredette is back to being an offensively juggernaut (what the heck is a juggernaut?…OK, just looked it up. The internet says it’s a “literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly destructive and unstoppable.” Good to know.).

The Spurses’s Kyle Anderson was the best player at the Utah Jazz Summer League by a mile. In fact, it was by way more than a mile. Probably around 6.2 miles. OK, maybe not that much, but it was definitely at least a 10K. The point is, it wasn’t close.

From my observations, here are a few other players I think have a shot at making an NBA team:

  • Jerf Jeffries (Boston Celtics) – Jerf had an amazing 43 assists in one summer league game last week, which is weird because most players think they need to score to be noticed. The one knock on Jerf is that he still needs two to three more surgeries to remove a Koosh ball that he accidentally swallowed last year during a game in Europe. It was a crazy accident that Jerf doesn’t like talking about at all. For some unknown reason another player had the Koosh in his pocket during the game and it slipped out and flew into his mouth while Jerf tried to block his shot. Apparently good luck charms are allowed in European leagues as long as they are kept in the player’s pockets. The good thing was it was a mini-Koosh ball, so that will cut down on the amount of surgeries Jerf will ultimately need. Who knew that the human body was unable to digest Kooshes?
  • Sam Tronpfft (Philadelphia 76ers) – Sammy T was has been all over the court blockin shots, getting dunks, and passing passes for the 76ers this summer. That’s pretty amazing for a guy who just found out that the game of basketball existed last year and just barely learned how to dribble through his legs last month.
  • Rolfe Herz (Chicago Bulls) – The big German showed that he has what it takes to be in the league this week by racking up 26 rebounds in only 4 minutes of play. Herz initially had a hard time adjusting to life in America and became homesick for the first few days on the team. It didn’t help too that his teammates didn’t seem to care much when he told them that he was named after the Rolfe from The Sound of Music.
  • Tong Maker (Sacramento Kings) – Little brother to Milwaukee Buck’s new draft pick Thon Maker, Tong has surprised a few people this summer. Tong isn’t quite as athletic or skilled as Thon, but he is lights-out from three-point land hitting over 60% during summer league. The only bad part of Tong’s game is whenever he hits a three pointer he makes a gesture like he’s pretending to dish himself some salad using salad tongs. His teammates told him it just looked like he was picking up a kitten with his fingers, but Tong keeps doing it. He’s from Australia; he’ll figure it out.
  • Otis Spunkmeyer III (Memphis Grizzles) – Otis is the grandson of the famous Otis Spunkmeyer cookie tycoon. However, Otis knows that just because his grandpa made some delicious cookies a long time ago doesn’t mean he is guaranteed an NBA roster spot. That’s exactly why Otis has been playing his butt off in summer league, which is also good because it was getting pretty big from all the free cookies he inherited.


Q: Who do you think is going to be the surprise Jazz player of the year?


Good question! There are so many guys on the team who could potentially have great seasons. Now that the team is stacked with veteran talent and seasoned young guys, the sky’s the limit… that is, if the sky were the second round of the playoffs, because I think that’s probably the limit for these guys. But if the MOON were the limit than the Jazz are DEFINITELY winning a championship this year!

So, who do I think is going to be the surprise player? Well, assuming the ENTIRE team is healthy for the ENTIRE season, I’d have to go with Alec Burks. Burks has the most to prove, like:

  • He can be a consistent scorer.
  • In the future he can be a starter in the league.
  • He can stay healthy for an entire season.
  • He has a good outside shot.
  • He can pay attention every time they call his name now that Trey Burke is gone.
  • He can out-play a savvy veteran in Joe Johnson.

Hmmmm… I started thinking about this more and I want to change my decision. I think it’s going to be Gordon Hayward. This is the year Gordon has to prove that he is an all-star…

…but also Rodney Hood will be a surprise too because he’ll get better and play better defense…

…some other possibilities include:

  • Boris Diaw
  • George Hill
  • Dante Exum
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Derrick Favors
  • Tibor Pleiss

Basically everyone else on the team will be a surprise this year.

…Man, the Jazz are going to be so good next season. Get your hopes up everybody! Get them WAY up! There’s absolutely no way this plan will backfire and land us in the lottery again. Take it to the bank or your local credit union. Heck, even take it to one of those crooked Check City places. That’s a Jimbo Rudding guarantee.


Q: Pardon my ignorance, but assuming teams don’t pay players during the off-season, what odd jobs do they do to make ends meet?


Good question Spammers!

It’s one of the tragedies of the NBA that there isn’t a way to adjust their payroll so that players get paid all year long instead of just during the season. It forces them to really budget their money while they’re playing so that they can survive the brutal summer months with no income.

It was the saddest thing — I saw Andris Biedrins a few Junes ago working at Jiffy Lube. They had him taking out people’s air filters and sticking leaves and junk in them and then showing the filter to the car owners asking if they would like to purchase a new air filter. It was pretty shady, but his manager told him to do it, so it’s not Andris’ses’ fault, right? He was good at it, but the whole thing was just sad.

Here are some other examples of players I know have worked odd jobs to make ends meet during the summer months:

  • Jason Hart dressed as the Statue of Liberty outside of a Liberty Tax place.
  • I saw Jeremy Evans on roller skates working as a car-hop at a Sonic Drive-in.
  • When I was a kid I saw Eric Leckner fixing the skee ball machines at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
  • Not many people know this, but Brevin Knight used his off-seasons to go to med school. In fact, it got to the point where he was making more money as a doctor than playing basketball, so he decided to retire from basketball and now works at a hospital in Des Moines.
  • Ben Handlogten was a lifeguard at Raging Waters, which is funny because he never learned to swim. He lied on his resume.
  • David Benoit drove trucks at the Kennekott Copper Mine.
  • Antoine Carr was the guy who guessed your weight at Lagoon.

See? Everyone needs to make a little more money sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with rolling up your sleeves and boosting your income. Even NBA players do it.


Q: Which former Laker player do you despise the most and why? D-Fish, Kobe, other?


Kobe Bryant always gets me going, no matter what he’s doing.

I still have not mentally accepted that the Utah Jazz were the team to send him out in style by allowing him to score 60 points on a career high 50 shots. I don’t want to remember that. Just like I don’t want to remember the time in 4th grade when I bought some candy bars with money I had collected for Quarters for Christmas.

Like I’ve said before—it was the most selfish player playing the most selfish game to end the most selfish season in NBA history.

Thanks for the questions, everyone! Remember to tell your grandparents about Jimbo’s Mailbag. Do it while slowly sprinkling a TON of Metamucil on top of their salads. Make it weird.

Jimbo Rudding

Jimbo Rudding

I am a typical Jazz fan. I think Jordan pushed off, Derek Fisher lied, Bavetta cost us at least one game in the Finals, we should have drafted Tony Parker instead of Raul Lopez, and there will never be anything better than the Stockton to Malone days. I, along with Spencer Campbell @SCampbellSBN, started the first and longest-running Utah Jazz podcast on earth. I enjoy the in-of-doors and telling people a better way of doing whatever it is they're currently doing.
Jimbo Rudding

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