Not for the first time, the Utah Jazz are entering an NBA season underrated. Here’s a look at their strengths and weaknesses for 2017-18.
The Utah Jazz were one of the big movers throughout the 2016-17 season. Managing 51 wins after a 40-win 2015-16 season, they were considered a franchise on the rise and one that could become a threat to the NBA’s top tier teams.
Then their best player upped sticks and left — or did he?
Gobert’s ability to lead a team as “the guy” is so far untested. Until now, he’s had Hayward, and to a lesser extent George Hill, to lean on. How he copes with his new responsibilities remains to be seen, but he will enter the season with a capable supporting cast.
A healthy Derrick Favors could do some damage working alongside their new playmaker, Ricky Rubio. Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles will be as consistent as ever while there’s a lot of hype surrounding the development of Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, Alec Burks and Donovan Mitchell.
Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh are handy additions that provide experience and defensive expertise while at the other end of their careers, Tony Bradley and Royce O’Neal will be eager to contribute in their rookie year.
The pieces are there to be a formidable team, but some things will have to go their way.
Having largely been written off and forgotten in most people’s preseason Western Conference playoff predictions, the Jazz are poised to fly under the radar — yet again.
The 2017-18 season looked very different at one stage but the offseason threw a spinner in the works. Goals have been reassessed and brought down a peg, but none leave the Jazz short of 40 wins or outside the playoffs.
It’s not going to be the coming out party those in Utah thought it would be had a certain All-Star remained with the franchise, but this squad has plenty of strengths to overcome the apparent weaknesses.