The Utah Jazz will face the most adversity through the season’s return

Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images /

As the 2019-20 NBA season is set to officially return, the Utah Jazz will be tasked with overcoming many interfering obstacles and looming questions.

After much patience during this bizarre hiatus in the 2019-20 NBA season, the league is set to resume play with 22 teams being invited to Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando that is expected to begin July 31st. Among those teams are the Utah Jazz.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the Board of Governors, and the NBPA collaborated and ultimately came to the agreement of inviting a total of 22 teams to resume play; The current 16 playoff teams along with the teams that were at least six games within playoff position.

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Out of all the teams returning to play, the Utah Jazz seem to be faced with the most adversity and resiliency standing in their path.

They currently stand fourth in the loaded Western Conference with a record of 41-23 and have already clinched a playoff spot, but they could be looking much different as a team once we see them at Disney.

The Jazz will fly into Orlando with an entirely new situation since the last time they played a regular-season game together. They’ve had some dramatic occurrences during the NBA hiatus that other teams haven’t experienced, meaning that they very well could have an unfortunate disadvantage.

It all started on March 11th when the NBA suspended its season indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Gobert was known as the ‘patient zero’ for the NBA, which resulted in many of his teammates becoming very frustrated and annoyed with him and his careless actions.

The situation darkened even worse when Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the coronavirus the next day. Friction and emotion were quickly evolving throughout the Jazz locker room, and many questions began to rise to the surface regarding the relationship between Gobert and Mitchell.

Many rumors covered the idea that the Jazz would eventually have to choose between their two All-Stars beyond this season. Trade rumors developed for each player and there was a growing sense that Gobert and Mitchell would have to part ways for the Jazz to move forward.

However, those rumors were quickly put to bed by Utah Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Lindsey stated that the organization is pleased with the assembled roster that they have and are looking forward to moving along with both Gobert and Mitchell in the near future.

I believe it was clearly the right move for Utah to move forward with both All-Stars and clear up the drama between them anyway. It appears that Mitchell’s frustrations with Gobert have mostly evaporated, but that is something to watch for when the Jazz return to play.

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How will their questionable relationship affect the team as a whole? Will their team chemistry decrease? Could issues develop off the court? NBA players have social lives too and experience dramatic situations just like everyone else, so the Utah Jazz could have internal conflicts that they may have to deal with once the team reunites.

It’s important to know that each team at Disney will be stuck together for a long stretch, so it will be essential for all teammates to get along with one another in the ‘bubble’ site. Otherwise, the consequences will occur on the court and negatively affect the success of their team. The Utah Jazz don’t want that.

Aside from the Jazz’s interpersonal issues, the biggest problem that they will encounter is making up for the loss of forward Bojan Bogdanovic, who recently underwent season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his right wrist.

Bogdanovic was an efficient and consistent shooter all season with averages of 44.7 percent from the floor, 41.4 percent from beyond the arc, and 90.3 percent from the free throw line. His shooting and 20.2 points per game will deeply be missed, and his absence could really have a detrimental effect on Utah’s impact offensively.

How will the Jazz react to playing an entire game without him on the floor for the first time all season? Many role players will have to aggressively step up their game if the Jazz are going to make a run in the playoffs.

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Who will receive the empty starting forward position and who will be assigned more minutes per game? I expect head coach Quin Snyder and the Jazz to begin their journey at Disney with a starting lineup of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert. In addition, role players such as Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang should be given more opportunities on the court. Perhaps Niang could implement himself into Bogdanovic’s starting spot.

Regardless of what decisions the Jazz make on their rotations and lineups, they will have to overcome obstacles offensively without the presence of Bogdanovic.

Eight regular-season games will be played upon return before the playoffs, so while that will allow Utah to experiment within their roster, it will also determine their seeding in the playoffs.

The possibility remains for the Jazz to meet the LA Clippers in the first round, who I wouldn’t want to play, or even the Houston Rockets, who have knocked them out of the playoffs the last two seasons. Either way, any of Utah’s potential opponents in the first round will be a tough matchup for them.

Many questions surround the fate of the Utah Jazz as the return of the 2019-20 NBA season approaches. The team doesn’t even know if Joe Ingles will be with them in Orlando since he still hasn’t decided if he should play considering the safety risk involved with two young children and a pregnant wife at home.

The Jazz will be faced with a sizeable amount of adversity and resiliency unlike any other team leading up to the NBA season resumption; It could prove to be a difficult task working past it and seems unlikely that they’ll keep the same momentum they had before the season’s hiatus.

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