2019-20 NBA Team Preview Series: Utah Jazz
2019-2020 NBA season starts October 22th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Utah Jazz.
2018-19 Record: 50-32, 5th in the Western Conference. Lost 4-1 to Houston in First Round.
Season Recap: After struggling to keep their heads above water with a .500 record in the early months of the season, the Jazz bounced back post-All-Star break and finished strong.
Despite the two-win improvement on the 2017-18 season, Utah was bundled out of the first round of the playoffs by the Houston Rockets in five games, the second straight year that the Jazz’ season had ended at the Rockets’ hands.
Although the Jazz saw growth from sophomore Donovan Mitchell and scored postseason individual accolades in Rudy Gobert’s second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, elusive playoff success could not be attained in Utah.
Key Losses: Derrick Favors, PF; Ricky Rubio, PG; Jae Crowder, SF/PF; Kyle Korver, SG; Thabo Sefolosha, SF; Raul Neto, PG
Key Additions: Bojan Bogdanović, SF; Mike Conley, PG; Ed Davis, PF/C; Emmanuel Mudiay, PG; Jeff Green, SF/PF
Preview: It’s time to strap in, Jazz fans. With the Golden State dynasty potentially at an end, Denis Lindsey made bold moves over the off-season to bring a major influx of talent to Salt Lake City.
Adding Conley to Mitchell in the backcourt will help mentor the Jazz’s young dynamo, while providing elite playmaking skills and more reliable long-range shooting than Rubio.
Bringing in a scorer of Bogdanović’s notoriety was a shrewd move, with the Croatian’s shooting stroke already gaining praise in the Jazz camp. Not only an elite shooter, Bogdanovic presents coach Quin Snyder with line-up flexibility, well suited to either forward position in the new-look starting five.
Adding in efficient role players in Davis, Green and Mudiay has helped strengthen the Jazz bench, joining a returning Dante Exum and the improving Royce O’Neale. With Snyder able to go small with Bogdanović and Joe Ingles starting, or having Ingles come off the bench to run the second unit, the Jazz have a multitude of different line-ups to use this season.
Radically improving their offence in the off-season has given Utah a bevy of skilled long-range snipers, while also opening up space for Mitchell and Gobert to wreak havoc. Put simply, the Jazz are going for it all this season, and are well-positioned to do so.
Player to Watch: Donovan Mitchell
Team X-Factor: Crunch-time offense
Worst Case Scenario: Conley gets injured and regresses with age, Mitchell takes a step backward and the Jazz slip out of the playoffs.
Best Case Scenario: Conley and Mitchell are the best backcourt in the NBA, Bogdanović and Ingles challenge each other for three-point records and Gobert averages 18 and 10 with 4 blocks per game.
Keeping their stifling defense going with a new offensive life in tow, the Jazz secure a top-three seed in the Western Conference and run amok in the postseason for their first NBA title.
2019-2020 Prediction: 57-25