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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Ranking the best rookie seasons in Utah Jazz history (16 items)

By , For the Deseret News

April 16, 2014

Even though the Jazz have come to the end of a less than impressive season, there have been plenty of bright spots along the way. Derrick Favors proved that he deserves major minutes for Utah in the future while setting career-highs in scoring, rebounding and assists in 30 minutes a game. Alec Burks showed that he has the ability to score no matter who the Jazz are facing and nearly doubled his career-high in scoring average by putting up 14 points a night.

Gordon Hayward showed that he is a solid all-around player who can score, find the open man and hit the glass. Enes Kanter has displayed plenty of skill on the offensive end of the floor and has shown that he has learned much from his time behind Al Jefferson.

The big bright spot on the season has been the play of point guard Trey Burke. After a brutal summer and an early season injury, Burke showed why the Jazz brass traded up to get his services. In fact, his year was so impressive that his first season with the Jazz ranks among the best rookie campaigns in Utah Jazz history.

Here is a look at the best rookie seasons for Jazz players since they moved to Utah.

Note: Derrick Favors was named NBA All-Rookie second team after a solid rookie campaign, but since he only played 22 games with the Jazz after being traded from the New Jersey Nets, he does not make the list. All stats are from Basketball-reference.com

Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lead writer of the website jmoneysports.com. Contact him at jmoney34@hotmail.com. Twitter: @jmoneysports

1 of 16. 15 tie. Raul Lopez:

Lopez only spent two seasons with the Jazz before being traded and heading back to Europe to finish out his career, but his rookie season was by far his best. Lopez played all 82 games in 2003-04, including 11 as a starter, and averaged seven points, 1.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game while shooting 86.3 percent from the free-throw line. The best game of his first year came in the last game of the year when Lopez registered 25 points, five assists and two steals.

2 of 16. 15 tie. Bryon Russell:

Russell was selected with the 18th pick in the second round (45th overall) in the 1993 draft. He appeared in 67 games (48 starts) in the 1993-94 campaign and averaged five points, 2.7 rebounds and one steal a contest. His most impressive game of the year came in a November loss to the Philadelphia 76ers when Russell scored a season-high 15 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

3 of 16. 14. Paul Millsap:

Millsap was selected with the 17th pick in the second round (47th overall) in the 2006 draft. He played all 82 games as a rookie in the 2006-07 season and averaged 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds a night while recording seven double-doubles. He best game of the season came in a November win over Toronto when Millsap missed only two stops from the floor on his way to 20 points. That night, Millsap also added seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Millsap earned NBA All-Rookie second team for his impressive year.

4 of 16. 13. Wesley Matthews:

Matthews made the Jazz after going undrafted in the 2009 draft. Matthews played in all 82 regular season games (48 starts) and averaged 9.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists a contest. His best game of the season came in a March loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder when Matthews scored 29 points while shooting 6-for-7 from the 3-point line.

Matthews also started all 10 Jazz playoff games and upped his averages to 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 steals a contest.

5 of 16. 12. Jerry Eaves:

Eaves was selected with the ninth pick of the third round (55th overall) in the 1982 draft. Eaves appeared in all 82 games (seven starts) and averaged 9.3 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists a night. His best game of the season came in a March win over the Detroit Pistons when Eaves went 11-for-19 from the floor on his way to 35 points. That night, Eaves made 13 of his 14 free-throw attempts and handed out eight assists.
1. Mountain Bird
West Jordan, UT,
April 17, 2014

The Golden Griff had the prettiest jumpshot I've ever seen. Great dunks too!

2. Samwise
Eagle Mountain, UT,
April 17, 2014

New #1 on this list after next season... Jabari Parker! At least that is what I hope. But it is not likely the Jazz get him, and even if they do there is no guarantee of where he would end up on this list. But you can't blame me for dreaming.

3. Sneaky Jimmy
Bay Area, CA,
April 19, 2014

@samwise You can hope all you want with no blame. The problem is the Jazz management have the same strategy. "Hope we get better" and as we all know HOPE is NOT a strategy.