There’s no denying that the Utah Jazz had an amazing 2017-18 regular season, as well as a fantastic postseason run to the Western Conference semifinals. The Jazz tallied 43 wins in the regular season, with 28 wins at home and 20 on the road. In the NBA Playoffs, the Jazz defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2 in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
As a result of a spectacular season, several players were given awards by the NBA Players Association (NBPA). Here’s a look at the awards won by Jazz players:
NBPA Leader of the New School Award: Donovan Mitchell
This is the NBA Players Association’s rookie of the year award, and there’s no denying that Mitchell had a spectacular rookie season with the Jazz. While he was originally drafted by the Denver Nuggets, he was traded to Utah for the 24th pick and Trey Lyles; a trade that paid dividends. Mitchell spent his rookie year shattering NBA and team rookie records, while also filling a hole left after Gordon Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics.
Mitchell averaged 20.5 points per game and 80.5 percent from the free throw line. He surpassed the NBA record for 3-pointers made in a rookie season (187 3-pointers). He also surpassed the Utah Jazz’s rookie single-game scoring records for both the regular season (41 points) and the postseason (33 points).
While Mitchell lost out to Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons for the NBA Rookie of the Year title, his peers acknowledged his fantastic season with the NBPA Leader of the New School Award.
NBPA Locksmith Award and NBA Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert
Despite missing 26 games in the regular season due to an injury to his left knee, Rudy Gobert still had an amazing impact on the Jazz’s defense, earning him the Players Association award equivalent to defender of the year.
Despite only playing 56 games, Gobert tallied 165 defensive rebounds for the Jazz and had 44 steals, 129 blocks, and 107 turnovers. As a result of putting up such amazing defensive numbers, it’s no surprise that he was awarded the NBPA Locksmith Award by his peers and was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
NBPA Backbone Award: Jae Crowder
This NBA Players Association award is given to a member of every NBA team in recognition of their being the “heart and soul” of the their respective team. Crowder was traded to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 8, 2018. A few days after being traded, Crowder posted throwback photos on Instagram showing him wearing an oversized Utah Jazz jersey and shoes in 1992. These images revealed a longstanding loyalty to the Jazz.
Crowder quickly won the affection of Jazz fans for his generosity. When a fan posted a Facebook message about the sudden death of his 4-year-old child and his attempt to buy Jazz tickets for his wife to bring her some joy in the wake of the loss, Crowder bought the couple tickets to the Jazz-Rockets game on Feb. 26.
With Crowder’s big heart and clear dedication to the team and its fans, it’s no surprise he was singled out for his “heart and soul.”
Crowder played 27 games for the Jazz and tallied 319 points, 102 rebounds, 41 assists, and 23 steals.