NBA Off-Season Preview: Utah Jazz
Record (40-42) The Utah Jazz for the fourth year running did not make the postseason. Although showing promising improvement in the midst of the franchise’s rebuilding phase, the season ended in a dismal way. Struggling with constant injuries to key players (Dante Exum, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Alec Burks) the Jazz still had a golden opportunity to make the playoffs this season but unfortunately did not take advantage in the last five games of the season, losing four of the last five. Utah controlled their destiny and disappointingly finished the season with a 40-42 record, two off a playoff spot. Then to add salt to the wound, they were on the receiving end of Kobe Bryant’s remarkable 60-point night on the final game of the season. Without a doubt, a miserable end to the season to say the least. Taking into consideration the injuries the Jazz dealt with throughout the year makes the overall scope of the season not a failure. Of course, the team had playoff ambitions at the start and realistically had their chance to make it, yet a lot was learned in the 82 games played. Improvement definitely was made especially on the defensive side of the ball where Utah finished seventh in overall defense (12th last season). More impressively, ranked second in opponent points per game in allowing an average of 95.9 points. Therefore, with a fully healthy squad this Utah Jazz team can be hard to break down and get the best of. Gordon Hayward led the team in scoring with an average of 19.7 points along with 5 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Hayward’s season high in points came in a double overtime road loss against the Charlotte Hornets where he scored 36 points on 12-24 shooting from the field. Another of the big contributors during the season was Derrick Favors averaging 16.4 points along with 8.1 rebounds. In early December, Favors had his biggest game of the season in a 122-119 win versus the Indiana Pacers with 36 points and 13 rebounds. Both Hayward and Favors are two of the centerpieces to this team and will lead them in the upcoming seasons. Current head coach Quin Synder has made a good impression to the Jazz organization during his two years in charge thus far, although going 78-86 during that time. Going into the third and final year of his contract, Utah decided to grant Synder a long-term contract extension this summer. Clearly the organization trusts Synder and will look to reach the playoffs this upcoming season. Utah has the 12th pick in the draft and surely need a player who can shoot the ball well. A player like Timothe Luwawu out of France is a good spot up shooter and with development can become a solid player for Utah. Additionally, Luwawu’s greatest asset is his athletic ability. Aside from the draft, players like Nicolas Batum, Aaron Afflalo, or Brandon Jennings would improve the depth of this youthful Jazz team.
NBA Off-Season Previews
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn Nets – New York Knicks – Philadelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers – Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks – Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat – Orlando Magic – Washington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas Mavericks – Houston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans Pelicans – San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves – Oklahoma City Thunder – Portland Trail Blazers – Utah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles Clippers – Los Angeles Lakers – Phoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings