By: Spencer Tawes
The 2015-16 season ended rather painfully for the Jazz. Utah had the opportunity to control their own destiny and break through the rigorous rebuilding process that started all the way back when the team traded Deron Williams to Brooklyn in 2011.
However, instead of a chance at the playoffs the Jazz fell flat on their faces losing their last two games to the Mavericks and Kobe’s Lakers. With the early exit it became clear that management was not afraid to make moves this offseason, hoping that they could finally break through to the top half of the Western Conference.
With the major offseason moves coming to an end, now is as good a time as any to evaluate the Jazz and their current talent, incoming free agents, and future as a franchise.
Over the last few years Utah has quietly been one of the better defensive teams in the league. Last season the Jazz gave up 95.9 points per game to opposing teams, placing them behind only the San Antonio Spurs as the least scored upon in the league. The success and defensive consistency is due in large part to the big men in the middle, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors.
The two make up what possibly could be considered the best young, rim protecting duo the league has to offer. Gobert being 7’2’’ with a freakishly long wing span, combined with Favors and his 6’10’’ 265 lbs athletic frame certainly forces opponents think twice before driving the ball in the paint. Lets also not forget, both Gobert (24) and Favors (25) have yet to even enter their prime years, giving both players room for improvement. In the end defense may win championships, but ultimately offense is what gets a team through to the playoffs.
Utah possesses solid scorers with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood; yet the team as a whole combines to only score 97.7 points a game, which was good for the third worst scoring offense last season.
With such an underperforming offense, management took it upon themselves to bring in seasoned veterans in order to create an offensive boost for the team. On draft night the Jazz traded the 12th overall pick in the draft to the Atlanta Hawks, in exchange the team was able to acquire George Hill from Indiana. This move filled an immediate hole that the Jazz faced last year, with a lack of quality point guard depth that plagued the team throughout the whole season.
In addition to the draft day trade for Hill, the Jazz were also able to sign the veteran scorer Joe Johnson and steal away the beloved Frenchman Boris Diaw from the Spurs who needed to quickly dump the extra contract. With playoff experienced veterans now on the roster, all three players should have positive impacts on the team in a variety of ways, finally propelling the Jazz to their first playoff birth in six years.
Postseason runs should be in store for Utah Jazz fans, hopefully they can stay away from teams like the Warriors or the Spurs early in the first round. And even with success in the near future, expect this Utah team to continue to improve over the years.
Not only was last seasons roster core all under the age of twenty-six, but the team is also heavily invested in its two budding young players, Dante Exum and Trey Lyles. Barring anymore major setbacks for Exum, both he and Lyles will play major roles in the teams success now, as well as in the years to come.
Coach Quin Snyder and the Utah Jazz organization have their pieces in place and are ready to make their mark in the NBA, will it be enough to get through the tough Western Conference? Only time will tell.
Record Prediction: 45-37