Dread the Dreads: DeMarre Carroll

Photo: Cameron Browne NBAE/Getty ImagesPhoto: Cameron Browne NBAE/Getty Images

He’s relentless. He’s scrappy. He’s fierce.

A predator on the court, DeMarre Carroll goes after every loose ball, every rebound. He sticks to his opponents like a pit bull defending a junkyard, eyes fervid with anticipation for that one lapse, that one mistake – and he pounces. He is energy embodied, hustle defined. He’s a gritty, blue collar workhorse, and the Utah Jazz are better for it.

Carroll is often the bright spot on a Jazz squad that struggles defensively more often than not.  Averaging about six points, three rebounds and not even one assist, he transcends the box score with his impact on games. It’s not likely you’ll see his impact on paper; but watch any Jazz game and his effect on the flow and energy of a match is evident on both ends of the court. “I’ve always been a team player and I always will,” he says. “I’m one of them guys who’s a nitty-gritty guy, blue-collar guy who’s going to grind every day.”

Players like DeMarre are instant fan favorites: the unheralded “scrub” who flirted with being out of the league, but whose heart, passion and energy paved the way towards having a meaningful impact on a nightly basis, and while his contract his smaller than many of his teammates, he makes himself worth every penny. Jazz fans might liken him to an Antoine Carr, Sundiata Gaines or Wesley Matthews.

If you think back upon any championship caliber NBA team, you’ll find a DeMarre Carroll somewhere on the roster. Bruce Bowen for the Spurs. Ronny Turiaf on the Heat. Even J.J. Barea was a key, underrated piece of the Maverick’s championship in 2011. For that reason alone, it would be wise for the Jazz to hang on to DeMarre as they continue to try and build a contender around the young guns. You just need those hustle guys to fill out your roster.

But it’s not just his play on the court that’s endearing.

Carroll has been known to interact causally with fans on Twitter (@demarrecarroll1), asking about local restaurants and digs and showing up to go bowling with his followers in Utah. He doesn’t consider himself above the average, hard-working fan and it shows in his demeanor, words and actions.

We often here the phrase “Core Four” in regards to our young players.  Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward are thought of as the future of the Jazz, and rightly so, but DeMarre is rarely mentioned in the same sentence.  He’s young (only 26) and the former first-round selection is improving with every game and has become who we are as a team.  “Core Four?”  Should be “Future Five.”

The Jazz’s motto, “We are Utah Jazz”, sums the man behind the dreads up nicely. He encapsulates that humble, hard-working, no whining attitude that Jazz fans have appreciated from greats like Stockton, Sloan and even Larry H. Miller. He may not be the #1 option on any lineup, but he’s that crucial glue that melds a team together, regardless of where the credit ends up. Here’s to hoping that the development of Favors, Kanter, Hayward and Burks is successful, and that Carroll is there buoying the team behind the scenes for several more years.

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