SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz opens their season on October 20, in just one month. As time goes by, we’re taking a look at 50 things to keep jazz fans excited about preparing for the 2021-22 NBA season. Arrival at number 30, preview of the opening night.
Opening night Jazz vs. Favors, Thunder
In a bit of cruel irony, the Jazz will take on longtime fan and locker room favorite Derrick Favors on opening night.
Favors helped oversee a total Jazz rebuild after Deron Williams left before being traded to the New Orleans Pelicans to make room for Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in 2019. Then, after he stepped down with the Jazz in 2020, he was traded to the Thunder to reduce the team’s luxury tax bill in July.
The Thunder are in the midst of one of the most ambitious rebuilds in NBA history, accepting unwanted contracts from other teams as well as additional project capital. Along with Favors, the Jazz sent the Thunder a future first-round pick and received a second-round pick in return.
Opening night will mark the debut of Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall and Jazz rookie Jared Butler. The team signed Gay and Whiteside as free agents while acquiring Pascall and Butler via trade.
Gay will take on the role left out by striker Georges Niang, while Whiteside will be tasked with filling Favors shoes. Paschall and Butler will compete for a spot in the rotation throughout the year.
The Thunder, meanwhile, underwent a mini-overhaul, with trade veteran Al Horford against the Boston Celtics in exchange for Kemba Walker and the 16th overall pick in the draft. Oklahoma City quickly bought out Walker after the trade that went on to sign with the New York Knicks.
Additionally, the Thunder added Australian Josh Giddey and Florida goalkeeper Tre Mann in the first round of the draft.
Opening night will also mark a rematch for Donovan Mitchell and Lu Dort, one of the most exciting duels in the NBA last season.
The two players have faced each other four times in their careers, separating the encounters of two games each.
Mitchell averaged 20.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds against the Thunder in the four games while Dort averaged 20.5 points, 1.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds against Mitchell.
Neither player dressed for the two teams’ final game in May last season.
The Jazz and Thunder will open their seasons in a month from today and will be on our list at # 30 of the 50 Best Scenarios before opening night.