Despite his quiet presence, Royce O’Neale is the ‘pulse’ of the Utah Jazz, teammates say


It is an unquestionable fact that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are two of the best and most talented players of the Utah Jazz.

And yet, when Dan Roberts speaks publicly about announcing the team’s starting line-up for games at Vivint Arena, there’s always one of the other two taking the team into a circle with a little bit of a quick jump routine. improvisation.

Mike Conley, as a respected veteran and third All-Star, perhaps not a surprising choice to be a tone-setter. But other?

Royce O’Neale.

When asked about the origin of her pregnancy habit, O’Neale smiled and, as usual, kept it simple.

“I just love to dance,” he said. “Kinda easy. You let me into the circle, I’m not afraid of the stage. I will dance any time”.

The point is, he’s doing a bit more than just showing off some moves.

“Honestly, he’s like the heartbeat of our team,” Conley said.

Aside from his respectable 3-pointer, the Baylor wing stats don’t really jump off the page. And still, his numbers represent a certain level of balance he delivers, with a 2021-22 average of 7.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists. ​create and 1.5 career-highest steals per game.

Jazz certainly knows how much more mature his game is.

“He does a lot of things on the pitch to help the team,” said Gobert. “It’s hard to put value on all the things he does.”

This brings up an interesting point.

O’Neale will certainly be one of those players whose value cannot be determined simply and simply by raw data and on/off splits and any other statistical modeling that you can put out there.

It may be an overused basketball cliché to suggest that a player’s full value cannot be determined by his stats, but there’s no denying that what O’Neale yield seems to be greater than the sum of its individual constituent parts.

Apparently, it is confirmed that he is Jazz’s best and most versatile defender without the Gobert name. He is also respected for being an effective and ready counter-attacker, regularly throwing his body around the giants of the tournament despite being only 6 feet-4 tall.

And there is so much more to it.

When asked about O’Neale’s tendency to contribute in one way or another in collision situations, coach Quin Snyder slowly shook his head in distrust.

“That bell kept ringing, and he kept answering,” Snyder said. “What he gave us, in terms of his toughness in defense, and he really always had a chance with his shots – he knew when the shot was going to come. and he confidently shot it. Usually, the baskets he gets, they’re big buckets. “

Conley added that he “brings in the invisible, the little things that don’t show up on the nightly news.”

Along with that, work and sacrifice are not expressed in grades, but are the components of Utah’s success.

“He’s the one who decides how we play with the way he plays, with the effort he plays with each possession,” Conley continued. “Defensively, you know what you’re going to get, but even when attacking, the things he sacrifices for our team – he’s capable of doing so much more; if he’s on the other team, he can handle the ball and put it forward as a point more often. But we have a lot [ball-handling] Guys, he was asked to run to corners, sprint and get out of the way, strike back, and just do all the dirty work that so many people in this league pass on.

He concluded: “People like him are invaluable and make up your team. “We know who he is to us and how much we appreciate him, no matter what the outside world might think.”

Regarding Conley’s remarks, O’Neale nodded and replied that it was indeed a somewhat familiar chorus.

The point guard and others, he said, have told him to consistently tell him that every time someone sees him come to the Zions Bank Basketball Campus early, or stay late. or ask the assistant coach to work with him further, or watch him come in once again movie session, it makes an impact.

“Some boys said [thing like] that — that I am the beat of the heart,” said O’Neale. “That’s a big compliment to myself. I try not to think about it like that. Mike, he and I talk every day – he tells me that I’m the one who keeps people together, controls people, [that] I’m the one who has to take the lead, bring in the energy every night, and others will follow.” Despite his quiet presence, Royce O’Neale is the ‘pulse’ of the Utah Jazz, teammates say

Beth Allcock

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