Utah Jazz: 3 reasons they will make the playoffs in 2017-18

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz are already being written off after Gordon Hayward announced his departure from the franchise, but they are still a playoff team in 2017-18.

The Utah Jazz don’t know when to quit. Just as they had constructed a team capable of a legitimate push into the Western Conference’s top tier, one post on The Players’ Tribune seemingly sent them on a downward spiral to mediocrity — Gordon Hayward had announced his departure.

The team that helped make him an All-Star, built around him, and made him a household name in NBA circles were left with little to show for his seven years with the franchise.

It’s not an easy task rebounding from the gut-wrenching realization that all you had built in recent years had been swept from underneath you, or that a rare opportunity for an organically made team to make a splash in the playoffs was all but gone. Most teams don’t respond or identify the following season as a continuation of the build, but rather, they take the easier route of blowing it up and rebuilding from the bottom.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey isn’t interested in going back before moving forward though.

He’s now building a team around Rudy Gobert, identifying defense as the way forward. While the rest of the NBA sign sharpshooters and stretch-4s, Lindsey has gone off-shore, signing defensive journeymen like Ekpe Udoh. They are aiming up, even without the player that initiated that upward trajectory.

Related Story: Utah Jazz: Building a powerhouse around Rudy Gobert

The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped from 55 wins to 47 wins after losing Kevin Durant. Once the Big Three era ended for the Miami Heat, LeBron James‘ departure saw them give up 17 wins compared to the season prior. The Indiana Pacers are about to experience a probable plunge in their win percentage with Paul George no longer present.

Teams falling in the standings after losing their superstar is the bellwether, but the Jazz could become the exception. There are a number of reasons why the Jazz will remain a force, even in a loaded conference, starting with their defense.