2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: UTAH JAZZ
Predicted finish: 6th in the West (3rd in the Northwest, 13th in the power rankings)
Last seasons conference finish: 6th
The Utah Jazz were a Mike Conley open three that almost dropped from eliminating the Denver Nuggets and for some reason we all act like it didn’t happen. Keep in mind they almost eliminated the bubble sweethearts before it really happened without their second best offensive player all series as well. Yet, countless people are dismissing the Jazz as the playoff team destined to fall out and make room for the Phoenix’s of the world and I just don’t get it. Last time I checked Donovan Mitchell is one of the game’s young stars and only improving, Rudy Gobert remains one of the best defensive forces of this generation and Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Conley are solid veteran pieces and somehow this isn’t a playoff team? Get out of here. No way Quin Snyder’s guys aren’t in the final 8, they have too much more talent than their competition and like it or not, they just fit well together.
The big question for the franchise: Can Mike Conley return to something close to Memphis form?
What really held Utah back from reaching their preseason hype was the disappearance of Conley’s game. After years of being one of the best players in the game not to make an All-Star team, it felt like Conley’s move to the Jazz would be the perfect spot to revitalize his career. Instead, he took a massive step back and struggled all season. Contrary to outside noise, this Jazz front office thinks this team is conference finals good. For them to get there, they need something close to Memphis Conley. If not, they’re destined for another disappointing early playoff exit.
One move I want to see them make: Add another guard/wing who can shoot on the bench
Adding Jordan Clarkson was a big get for them last year via trade and he instantly saved their bench. Bringing back Derrick Favors also should answer the Gobertless minutes that arguably cost them the Denver series so now what? Well, outside of Ingles, this team lacks a bench scoring option on the wing and if they start him over Royce O’Neale then it’s an even bigger problem. Ideally whoever they’d bring in would also be a plus defender but at the very least, they need to add some more floor spacing off the bench to really make this team go and give Snyder more options down the stretch of a close playoff game.
Offseason Grade: C+
Both Favors and Clarkson felt like over pays but it’s hard to dog them for it when it all but guarantees their bench will be good now. The team also over paid Gobert last weekend and for that, that’s another disappointing move for them. There’s no doubt they come into 2020-21 deeper than any recent seasons but, at what cost?
Young player I’m excited for: N/A
This team has basically no young players of note to speak of (now watch Elijah Hughes go win rookie of the year).
The Jazz certainly come into this season underrated compared to the rest of the west. Though they’re better than people think, I don’t think they’re as good as their front office thinks they are and that has me deeply fascinated to see how this plays out as a result.
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