Rudy Gobert, who was named to the All-NBA Second Team last season, missed 26 games from November to January because of two separate knee injuries—and he still found time to be the NBA's most impactful defender. The Jazz were 18-26 when Gobert returned from his second knee injury and, behind the league's stingiest defense, they finished the season on a 30-8 run to clinch the Western Conference's No. 5 seed.
Gobert averaged a double-double (13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds) for the second consecutive season and ranked No. 2 in in the NBA in blocked shots (2.3). He also set a new career high in free-throw percentage (.682).
"We will be fine."
The No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Donovan Mitchell led all rookies in scoring (20.5 ppg) and finished with 20+ points 47 times. Mitchell scored at least 40 points twice, was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times, and became just the fifth rookie in NBA history to lead a team with at least 45 wins in scoring. The others were Wilt Chamberlain (1959-60), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969-70), Larry Bird (1979-80) and David Robinson (1989-90).
Mitchell won the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend, and on April 10 he set a new NBA record for 3-pointers made by a rookie—he finished the season with 187, two more than Damian Lillard's previous record of 185.
"Our team is selfless—that's the word I continue to use. We love each other, and I mean LOVE each other. We have each other's backs."
Derrick Favors appeared in 77 games for the Jazz this year, his most since the 2012-13 season. Favors averaged 12.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks, and he made 14 3-pointers—after making only four in his first seven seasons in the NBA. Favors saved one of his best performances for the playoffs, finishing with 20 points and 16 rebounds in Utah's key Game 2 victory in Oklahoma City in Round 1.
"I knew [we could get back to the playoffs] in training camp. I saw how hard the guys worked to prove people wrong. I think we came together after that tough December schedule—we really found chemistry and the guys got going. We accomplished a lot during that time, and I know the guys are hungry and ready to get better and work for next season. We had a great year."
Ricky Rubio thrived in his first year with the Jazz, setting career highs in points (13.1) and 3-pointers (1.2) per game, as well as field-goal percentage (.418), 3-point percentage (.352) and usage rate (23.2).
Rubio scored 30+ points four times after doing so only once during his six years with the Timberwolves, and he also made the most out of his first career playoff appearance, averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.6 steals in the five games leading up to his season-ending hamstring injury.
"This year I learned more than ever and I grew up as a player, grew up as a person—but I still think that I have more in me and can get better, and I couldn't be more excited."
2017-18 was a breakout season for Joe Ingles, who was one of only five players to finish the season with at least 170 3-pointers, 250 rebounds and 250 assists. The others were Golden State's Stephen Curry, Portland's Damian Lillard, Houston's James Harden and Toronto's Kyle Lowry.
Ingles dished out at least 10 assists four times, set a new Jazz franchise record with 204 3-pointers, and ranked No. 4 in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.440).
"At 27, you kind of are who you are, and I never thought I'd be able to make the leaps that I did. It's a credit to the coaching staff for being so committed to doing it daily and pushing everyone to be so committed, and it shows in the way we play as a team."
After going undrafted out of college and playing in Europe for two seasons, Royce O'Neale stepped up to become a key contributor for the Jazz this year. He had one of the defensive stops of the year late in Utah's win over the Spurs on February 12 (which extended Utah's winning streak to 10 games), scored a career-high 19 points against the Suns on Valentine's Day, and led the team with 17 points against the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
"Guarding the top players in the NBA, getting that chance, starting and being able to play in the playoffs, I think that was when I was like, 'Okay, I have a chance to be great.'"
Jae Crowder joined the Jazz in a midseason trade from the Cavaliers and made an immediate impact, scoring in double figures in 21 of his 27 regular season games with Utah. In all, Crowder averaged 11.8 points and 1.8 threes for the Jazz, and he recorded career highs in points (27) and 3-pointers (six) in Game 5 of Utah's Round 1 matchup with the Thunder.
"Being here got me back to being a free-minded basketball player—I was able to play free within how Coach Quin wanted me to play. I have a lot of improvement to do. I can get better and be more aggressive on both ends of the court once I have a full summer and preseason with the group, so I'm looking forward to that. I see nothing but a lot of upside for myself and our unit."
Danté Exum missed most of the 2017-18 season after suffering a separated shoulder in the team's third preseason game—but he returned on March 15 and played in each of Utah's remaining 14 regular season games. Exum scored a season-high 21 points against the Grizzlies on March 30 and played inspiring defense on Houston's James Harden throughout the Western Conference Semifinals.
"I was able to come back from [my shoulder injury] this season, which I was truly excited about—just to be a part of this team and what we were able to accomplish. But I need to look forward and just make sure I do everything I can. ... There are a lot of things I can't control, but I can control how hard I work."
In his first season with the Jazz, Jonas Jerebko set a career high with 65 threes (an average of 0.9 per game), and he shot the ball well across the board—46.6 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from three, 80.7 percent from the free-throw line. Jerebko scored a season-high 17 points against the Celtics (his former team) on December 15 in Boston.
"I've been in the league for nine years and I've never seen a locker room with the chemistry that we had."
Before he went down with a season-ending knee injury on January 12, Thabo Sefolosha was a key member of Utah's rotation. The 12-year veteran averaged 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 21.2 minutes while providing his signature perimeter defense. Perhaps more importantly, Sefolosha quickly became one of the team's respected leaders in the locker room—a role he embraced throughout the season, even after his injury.
"I think the talent level is there ... the commitment is there from everybody. With an extra summer of us working together, we definitely have a chance to compete with the top teams in the league."
Ekpe Udoh, who was the MVP of the 2017 Euroleague Final Four, joined the Jazz this season after playing in Europe for three years. Udoh made a huge defensive impact in limited playing time, averaging 1.2 blocks and 0.7 steals in 12.9 minutes per game. He ranked No. 3 in the NBA in blocks (4.39) and No. 16 in steals (2.55) per 48 minutes. In three starts, Udoh averaged 9.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.7 steals in 31.0 minutes.
"You've got to enlighten and empower everybody you come in contact with—especially the team that we have, with everybody being from different parts of the world. ... It's great that we had that type of locker room."
Alec Burks—who had his healthiest season in four years—saved his best for last, logging games with 17, 14 and 22 points during the Western Conference Semifinals. Burks averaged 16.5 minutes per game and had four games with 20+ points this season. He finished with 28 points (his season high), seven rebounds and five assists in a road win over the Clippers on November 30.
"I pride myself on being ready. We talk about that every day. I know I've got the ability—and I got the opportunity—so I just did what I know how to do."
In his third season for the Jazz, point guard Raul Neto averaged 4.5 points and 1.8 assists in 12.1 minutes per game. Neto scored a season-high 22 points in Brooklyn on November 17, and he finished with 12 points and three assists to help the Jazz beat the Spurs in San Antonio on February 3.
"After all the injuries and all the ups and downs during the season, to finish the playoffs the way I did, I think it was good. I learned from that and, of course, want to get better and improve. This summer is going to be big for me."
Signed on March 17, David Stockton followed his legendary father's footsteps in suiting up for the Utah Jazz. Stockton, a 26-year-old point guard out of Gonzaga, appeared in three games during the regular season, averaging 3.3 points per game. He made his only shot—a 3-pointer from the top of the key—during his home debut on April 5 against the Clippers.
*2017-18 G League Stats
"I think I've earned the respect of the people around here—and hopefully the people I play against—but just like anything, you have to prove that every single day."
The No. 27 overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Tony Bradley—a 20-year-old center out of North Carolina—played sparingly for the Jazz this season (averaging 3.2 minutes in nine games). Bradley, though, averaged a double-double (15.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.3 blocks) for the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Jazz.
*2017-18 G League Stats
"The past year was good. I learned a lot, was playing with the Stars, especially, and just observing and watching the Jazz. Just grateful to be here."
One of Utah's two-way players, Georges Niang spent much of the season with the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Jazz. Niang, who was a Second Team All-American as a senior at Iowa State, averaged 22.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 15 games for the Stars. He made the G League All-Star team and was named First Team All NBA G League this season. Niang appeared in nine games for the Jazz and scored a season-high four points on March 13 against the Pistons.
*2017-18 G League Stats
"No one really needs to put their arm around me or push me to get better, but as soon as I got here, they sat me down ... this organization takes every part of what they do extremely serious. They not only want to groom you as a player, but as a person."
One of Utah's two-way players, Erik McCree played in 22 games for the Salt Lake City Stars—the G League affiliate of the Jazz—and averaged 18.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. McCree appeared in four games for the Jazz, playing a total of eight minutes.
*2017-18 G League Stats
"The main thing I learned this year with the Jazz was just attention to detail—game in, game out. Coming from a small college, it was definitely different seeing how much detail they put into everything each night."
Quin Snyder led the Jazz to a 48-34 record and their second straight appearance in the Western Conference Semifinals. Snyder was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for March/April—becoming the first Jazz coach to receive the honor since Jerry Sloan in February of 2009—and he's also one of three finalists for the 2017-18 NBA Coach of the Year Award. In four seasons as Utah's head coach, Snyder has led the team to a record of 177-151 (.540).
"The strength of our team is our team."