The Greatest Utah Jazz Team of All Time?

By October 14, 2016Data Analytics, Sports

I can do some dumb things. For instance, I put a hell of a lot more oil in my last car than I should have. With my dipstick split worse than a Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony marriage, I guesstimated how much oil my car was losing and naively rammed in an unconscionable amount to replace it. I didn’t stop there either. I also used this same moronic logic to diagnose how much pressure I should have in my tires. With more air than normal, the mechanic told me that amount pressure should have blown out my tires like Willie Jones blows out bathrooms.

Choices Matter

While it may not be as perplexing as my recent car choices, the Utah Jazz may have one of the most ironic names in all of sports. After being in Utah for most of my life, I am pretty sure that there is about as much jazz in this state as I have rhythm in my hips – it doesn’t exist. However, aside from their odd name, the Utah Jazz are one of the most successful sports franchises in sports history. From 1984-2003, the Utah Jazz made the playoffs every single season. That is the third longest playoff streak of all time behind the Portland Trailblazers and the 76ers. During this period, they also made two NBA finals appearances. While Michael Jordan ruptured their championship hopes and every other city during this decade, there is no doubt that the Jazz were a force during their peak.


The Greatest Utah Jazz Team of All Time?

Aside from their greatest seasons in 1996-1997 and 1997-1998, statistically, the 1991-1992 team may have been one of the strongest for the Utah Jazz. Using data from Basketball Reference, the tableau dashboard above (click the dahboard and select “full screen” to play with the data yourself) shows that the 1991-1992 team had 55 wins (4th highest all time) and that their totals in blocks, steals, assists, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, points, free throw percentage, and shooting percentage were each ranked in the top 20 Jazz seasons of all time. Led by Karl Marlone (second in the league in scoring) and John Stockton (first in the league in assists) at the pinnacles of their careers, it’s tough not to see this as one of their greatest teams of all time. On the other end, the statistically worst Jazz team of all time may be that of the 2011-2012 season. They were the only team to finish in the bottom 20 Jazz seasons of all time for blocks, steals, assists, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, points, free throw percentage and shooting percentage.


Making Better Choices (based on Data) In the Future

While the Jazz have been absent in recent playoffs, they’ve still made the playoffs in 60% of their seasons, and have 14 different seasons with 50 or more wins. With two NBA Finals appearances and the second longest playoff streak of all time, they are one of the few teams to have been so consistent over such a long period. While keeping the name ‘Jazz’ is a perplexing choice for Salt Lake City, there is no doubt that the Utah Jazz have made several great choices which have led to them being such a successful franchise. If only I can say the same thing about my car.

Leave a Reply