UTAH! WHAT’S GOOD! Is a trip to the finals going to be in store, or yet another playoff disappointment? Having the best record in the West last year was not enough for them, as they fell short against the Clippers in round two. On the bright side, they learned a lot about themselves and did retool a bit for this season.
They have got a lot of promise, and already a lot of money tied up to their two most valuable players. It’s got to be time for them to at least make it to the conference finals. No more excuses.
TO WIN TITLE: +1600
TO WIN WEST: +750
TO WIN NORTHWEST: -225 (FAVORITES)
Can Utah Get Over the Hump?
The core of the Jazz is very good. Donovan Mitchell is getting better and better every season and looks like one of the best scorers in the game right now. Rudy Gobert is the best defensive player in the league, when he isn’t having to constantly defend at the three-point line. The two of them have to be better on the big stage.
Mike Conley Jr. has been very good for them. Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic are good playmakers at the forward spots. And Royce O’Neale is a top-quality defender. Jordan Clarkson just won sixth man of the year. That should be enough. But, the Clippers walked all over them in the second part of their series last year.
Not many players work harder than Mitchell does, so that is going to be their hope. That the guiding light is the continually prospering guard, a scorer from every spot on the court. Can he rise above it and help the team finally get past round two? Having won only two playoff series in the last four years is a major disappointment for this team.
Beefing Up the Bench
It was clear and painfully obvious that Utah’s bench aside from Jordan Clarkson wasn’t too good last year. Georges Niang was not cutting it as a seventh man, and Derrick Favors was not the same player. So, they went out and brought some new guys in.
In signing Rudy Gay, they have another shot creator. He is mostly an isolation scorer, but he’s very good at what he does. He had many quality years for the Spurs in a bench role and should fit in nicely, giving them 11-13 points per night.
Hassan Whiteside struggles in certain areas, but being a big body is obviously something that comes naturally to him. The team can now have constant rim protection, even when Rudy needs a break. And he is a potent lob threat.
He will have to earn his minutes, but Eric Paschall has smooth touch. He comes over after two years in Golden State, now reunited with his old teammate and longtime friend Donovan Mitchell. His rookie year was incredible before he lost playing time in season two.
Quin Snyder is certainly not on the hot seat. But, there is a chance he could lose his job if the team underwhelms in the playoffs once again.