The NBA season is in full swing, which means the tankathon for the projected number one overall pick, Victor Wembanyama is too. After the stunning Las Vegas showcase where Webanyama took the floor against projected number two pick Scoot Henderson’s G-League ignite team, many assumed that several NBA teams would be overtly tanking to earn the right to select the 7’4 Frenchman. After trading away their two stars, the Utah Jazz were positioned to be the most aggressive team in pursuit of the number one pick.
Even if they were to select second, Henderson is one of the best guard prospects we’ve seen in a while, further proving the importance of finishing near the bottom of the league.
The Utah Jazz are too talented, at the moment, to successfully tank.
The Jazz, along with the post-Dejounte Murray trade San Antonio Spurs, the ever-tanking Oklahoma City Thunder, and the never-tanking Indiana Pacers, all look to be the top contenders for the coveted pick. Though many assumed that Utah Jazz would be best positioned for this after unloading quite a bit of talent in the offseason, they might not have the best odds based on their roster and their play thus far.
By starting the season by winning against three good teams in Denver, Minnesota, and New Orleans, the Jazz’s losing goals are off to a rough start.
The players they acquired back from their various trades are still good veteran talents, along with the players they have kept so far on their roster.
A young, productive defender and rebounder, Jared Vanderbilt is someone a playoff team would love to have. Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson are two off-the-bench spark plugs that could lead the second unit of a contender. Mike Conley is past his prime, but he remains a viable backup option for teams that are short on point guards.
When healthy, Collin Sexton is an efficient high-scorer, but his play did not lead to much-winning basketball in Cleveland. Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanan is a controversial figure among basketball fans, but he is still a young player who can be productive and score. For a supposed tanking team, this roster is still mostly populated with veterans who have little interest in losing games.
The Bojan Bogdanovic trade signaled that Utah is not done making moves and they need to continue to gut this roster if they have any hope of securing the highest odds for the number one overall pick. As it stands, this roster is a spunky amalgamation of good basketball players who can shoot the ball and run the floor.
The Spurs, meanwhile, are made up of solely young talent, while the Thunder have already shut down their top pick, Chet Holmgren, for the season after an injury that normally does not take the entire season. As a result, this Utah Jazz team has players coveted by playoff teams and ought to jump on those opportunities soon before they continue their winning ways.