There could be one guy on this team that could be a difference maker. A guy who can shoot the ball. A guy who plays good defense. A guy who can come in off the bench and help lead the second unit. If that guy can stay healthy, he can help out a young Utah Jazz team. Brandon Rush.
Rush entered the NBA back in 2008 after coming off a national championship at the University of Kansas. Before he won that national championship, Rush was entering the season after withdrawing from the NBA draft due to an ACL tear. He tore his ACL playing in a pickup game that was later found out to be an illegal workout, organized by Rodney Heard, the director of East Coast scouting for the New York Knicks.
Before the tear, Rush was leading his Jayhawks team in scoring (13.5 points), rebounds (5.9), and 3 point shooting percentage (47.2%).
After rehabbing the injury, Rush returned to Kansas and back into the starting lineup. As mentioned before, Rush led the Jayhawks to a national championship along with teammate and now Miami Heat starting point guard, Mario Chalmers. According to Rivals.com that year, Rush was rated the #1 small forward in all of college basketball. After the season, he declared himself for the NBA draft yet again.
Rush was taken in the 1st round, 13th overall, by the Jazz’s Northwest Division rivals, the Portland Trailblazers. However, he was then traded from the Blazers to the Indiana Pacers along with Jarrett Jack. Rush spent 3 seasons with the Pacers, putting up average numbers. Averaging only 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assist per game. Aside from not being very stellar numbers, Rush did improve every year statistically shooting the ball. He improved his field goal, free throw, and 3 point shooting percentage every season in Indiana.
After the 2011-2012 season got underway, Rush was traded from the Pacers to the Golden State Warriors for Louis Amundson. The next stat I am about to give you could intrigue all Jazz fans. After being traded, Rush had his best statistical season.
Rush appeared in 65 games that season for the Warriors. Rush shot an incredible 50.1% from the field, and an unbelievable 45.2% from behind the 3 point line. He also improved his free throw percentage from 75% to 80%. His great play that season led him to a 2 year $8 Million contract to stay with the Warriors. That new contract didn’t help Rush from stopping another terrible injury.
2 games into the season, Rush was fouled by the Memphis Grizzlies‘ Zach Randolph on a fastbreak bucket, and came down awkwardly on his left knee. He left the game and had an MRI the following day. The MRI revealed yet another ACL tear, and put Rush out for the rest of the season.
The ACL tear was tough on Rush. He sent out very depressing tweets via his Twitter account during his rehab process such as “It’s really hard to watch basketball right now”, and “Hope I can travel with the guys this weekend, hate feeling left out.” Now that he has been traded, things seem to be looking up for Rush. Via his Instagram account, Rush recently posted a video of him shooting and making all of those shots. You can see the video here.
He also posted a picture of the gym where Jazz players were working out in Santa Barbara. You can find the picture here.
Rush has only been in the league for 5 years. He is still young like the rest of the Jazz roster. This season will not be just an expiring contract year for him. Rush should be expected to be back with the Jazz for the next few seasons at least. If he stays healthy, he can be a huge piece of what the Jazz are trying to do.
Expect him to be the backup shooting guard to Alec Burks this season. However, if the Jazz decide to go small in the rotation, he could be slid over to the backup small forward. Playing small could work well for the Jazz if they decide to do that. Rush is a quick guard that can shoot the ball. Playing fast with the second unit could turn out to be very affective for the team.
We don’t know what the result will be this season with Rush, but I have a sneaky suspicion that this guy will be a key factor in the Jazz’s rotation. Watch out for him to have a great season off the bench and, hopefully, stay healthy the entire season. Last but not least, Brandon Rush….welcome to Utah!