Rudy Gobert says 'the best is yet to come' as Utah Jazz prepare for tipoff of 2019-20 season

by Aaron Falk

Rudy Gobert received a standing ovation at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday night. And if Gobert is right, it will just be the first of many for the Stifle Tower and his Utah Jazz teammates this season.

Gobert was presented with his 2018-19 Defensive Player of the Year trophy, the second in as many years, as a few thousand Jazz fans got their first glimpse of this year’s squad.

“I just want to thank you for the tremendous support over the years,” Gobert told the crowd. “And I just want to say, the best is yet to come.”

Gobert and the rest of his teammates cut loose on Friday, dancing, joking and playing games. (Forward Bojan Bogdanovic edged Donovan Mitchell in a 3-point shootout. Mike Conley edged Joe Ingles in a competition to name as many Disney characters as possible.) Forward William Howard won the rookie dance-off, though the reviews were not great.

“This was a terrible effort,” forward Georges Niang said. “I’m extremely disappointed with this group.”

But with the team’s first preseason contest set for Saturday and the start of the regular season just around the corner, there was the talk of the work to be done and the reward that could await them at the end of the season.

“You expect teams to take a little bit of time to get to know each other,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “This group, there’s kind of a natural connection that these guys have shown. There’s a lot of work to do, but you see a group of guys that values the same thing, that appreciates playing together.”

With many new additions, Snyder has been leaning on his returning players to catch the new guys up to speed.

“Part of connecting as a group is learning to communicate,” Snyder said. “There’s different terminology that guys have to learn. It’s really where some of the guys like Rudy, Joe, Georges, Royce—everybody that’s coming back is helping each other. And then you have guys that have a lot of experience in the league and they pick things up quickly.”

Jazz fans got their first look at one of those new additions, Conley, complete in his signature headband. And Conley got his first look at his new fans, too.

“It’s unbelievable,” Conley said. “I’m just thankful to have such great teammates, a great staff and great fans. It’s more than I could ask for.”

And Conley hopes to deliver those fans with something special by the end of the season.

“We’ve got a chance to win a championship,” he said.

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