Utah Jazz: 2017-18 NBA season preview

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz are down an All-Star and headed in a new direction with Rudy Gobert leading the way. What should be expected of them in 2017-18?

When Gordon Hayward announced he was leaving the Utah Jazz, hopes of eclipsing their 51-win 2016-17 season were dashed. Their leading scorer and first-time All-Star walked out the door and according to some, sent the Jazz in a downward spiral.

It’s natural to initially assume it’s all downhill from here, but on closer inspection, there is still plenty for the Jazz to be excited about.

Rudy Gobert is now the undisputed leader. There’s the argument out there he took over that role last season but now, there’s no question; the Jazz are Gobert’s team. He’s “the guy” and although it’s an unfamiliar role for someone so defensively focused, the Stifle Tower will seek to fulfill it like another NBA star.

With the veteran presence of Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles set to mingle with the young up-and-comers in Dante Exum, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell, there’s a decent splattering of experience and talent for Gobert to work with.

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey didn’t make any gargantuan moves over the offseason in an effort to replace Hayward. Instead, he introduced a collection of proven NBA talent that would fit in alongside the already chemistry-fueled Jazz roster.

It’s not situation critical in Utah as some have predicted, but it’s also not the first time the Jazz will enter a season flying under the radar.

2016-17 Vitals

51-31, 1st in Northwest Division, 5th in Western Conference
100.7 PPG (28th)/96.8 Opp PPG (1st)
109.6 Offensive rating (12th)/105.3 Defensive rating (3rd)

Team Leaders

Scoring:  Gordon Hayward, 21.9 PPG
Rebounding:  Rudy Gobert, 12.8 RPG
Assists:  George Hill, 4.2 APG
Steals:  Joe Ingles, 1.2 SPG
Blocks:  Rudy Gobert, 2.6 BPG

Team Honors

All-Star:  Gordon Hayward
All-NBA Second Team:   Rudy Gobert
NBA All-Defensive First Team:  Rudy Gobert