This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
When the Jazz reassemble themselves in the fall for the onset of the 2017-18 season, there's bound to be confusion. I mean, who are these guys? Not only does coach Quin Snyder have to find a way to mold proper lineups, he has to introduce a wide new cast of characters.
That's the nature of the NBA. But the Jazz are taking this to serious levels, by numbers and by sheer obscurity. Most of the newcomers aren't exactly household names with familiar games.
You could see Dante Exum awaiting an outlet pass from … Ekpe, uh, what's your name, again? And Derrick Favors looking for help on defense off the weak side from … Royce, uh, Whoosits?
To help these players - and the fans - get to know one another a little better, we virtually gathered them together to play that game where you tell the group a few things about an individual and then, everybody tries to guess who it is. The answers are below.
Here goes …
1. In his rookie year, before his first NBA regular-season game, which is to say during the preseason, this player punched Jamaal Magloire straight in the mug, drawing a one-game suspension. He went on to start in 73 games, which ranks second only to Kelly Tripucka in rookie starts for Detroit, the team that used the 39th pick in the draft to select him. He averaged 9.3 points and six boards in that rookie season. Later, he was traded to Boston. Both of his parents were pro basketball players. He was a Jazz fan growing up, even though he did that growing up in Sweden.
2. This player's dad was a musician and his mom an artist. He was raised with a certain international flair, and has gone on to play professionally in the foreign lands of France, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland and Oklahoma. In the NBA, he has played for the Thunder, the Bulls and the Hawks. He was traded to the Hawks in exchange for the rights to a player named Sofoklis Schortsanitis. He speaks English, French and Italian. Of all the new Jazz players, he's the most likely to yodel. He was named the best Swiss basketball player of all time. Of course, there were only two from which to pick. He suffered a broken leg while being arrested by New York police officers outside a NYC nightclub. A jury later found him not guilty of three misdemeanors, and subsequently the NYPD reached a settlement with him for $4 million, much of which he donated to charity.
3. In his college days, this player competed for two schools Michigan and Baylor. He grew a reputation for blocking shots, what with a 7-foot-5-inch wingspan. He was the sixth overall selection in the draft, taken by Golden State, and subsequently was traded to Milwaukee. A couple of years later, he signed with the Clippers and then a Turkish team, where he and his team prospered. His parents are Nigerian, although he was born in Edmond, Okla. His middle name is Friday. He hopes to ball out in the NBA now everyday.
4. OK, this player doesn't like to be labeled solely as an athlete. He probably could sing the national anthem before a Jazz game and do it rather well. He was a member of his high school band and sang solos in musicals. He also balled out in a number of sports, foremost among them baseball. Basketball came later. He responds to proper motivation, considering he once was chewed out in a text from his sister before a college game, and forthrightly scored 25 points. He describes himself as a "hungry" and "mean" player and as a "perfectionist." He's a guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan who much to Snyder's delight talks a lot about playing defense. One of the first people he spoke to after being drafted by Denver for the Jazz was former Jazzman Darrell Griffith.
5. Of all the things that stand out about this player is this one … he was named his high school's prom king. The McDonald's All-American has room to grow and he'll have to. He was named Florida's Mr. Basketball before winning a national championship at … North Carolina. He will love everything about playing for Snyder how he develops young players, how he mentally processes the game, how he expects the young to work hard - except that he's a Duke guy.
6. This fellow played professionally at the age of 14. At 17, he was the youngest player ever to play in an Olympic Games gold-medal final. After a tangled extraction from his European contract, he came to the NBA in 2011-12 and finished second in rookie-of-the-year voting to Kyrie Irving. Since then, he's had five triple-doubles and once got 19 assists in a single game. He plays great defense, sees the court, passes well, does pretty much everything well … except for shooting. Still only 26, if he masters that one part of his game, he could be something special for the Jazz.
7. After not getting drafted in 2015, and heading overseas, this player went to Germany and Spain to further his career, and he planned to play for a Lithuanian club before signing with the Jazz. He is a small forward with modest numbers, but some potential. His greatest asset? He played at Baylor, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey's alma mater.
8. The definition of a basketball nomad, this player is the first ever to sign a two-way contract with the Jazz, which means he'll play a lot for the Salt Lake City Stars. Moving back and forth a few miles won't bother him. He's played for nine different teams, trotting the globe from Italy to Puerto Rico to Venezuela to the Dominican Republic to Texas to Puerto Rico to Dubai to Israel to Italy. In between, he played for two fistfuls of NBA summer league teams. If that wasn't arduous and frightening enough, a year ago in Florida he was charged with attempted first-degree murder after being falsely identified in the case. He spent a week in jail, calling it "the worst experience" of his life. The charges were subsequently dropped.
9. How many players on the Jazz had a 4.0 grade-point average in high school? One: this guy. He was widely recruited and eventually ended up at Washington, except that he didn't actually end up there. After showing terrific promise with the Huskies, he transferred to Gonzaga, where he led the Bulldogs to the national championship game. He was born in a place called Happy Valley. Was a McDonald's All-American in high school and a first-team academic All-American at Gonzaga.
Answers: 1) Jonas Jerebko. 2) Thabo Sefolosha. 3) Ekpe Udoh. 4) Donovan Mitchell. 5) Tony Bradley. 6) Ricky Rubio. 7) Royce O'Neale. 8) Eric Griffin. 9) Nigel Williams-Goss.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.