For Utah, injuries are a tradition as annual as Christmas pajamas, cookies and milk, and grandma getting too political at Christmas dinner. This year has been no exception as Utah has suffered injuries to Dante Exum, Raul Neto, Ricky Rubio, Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson, Donovan Mitchell, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. If you’re counting, they have had injuries befall more than half of their roster.
So what would we ask the big red man for Christmas this year?
Health. For once, just health.
Last year the Utah Jazz suffered injuries to George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and then Rudy Gobert in the playoffs. They had players recovering from injuries with Dante Exum and Alec Burks. When healthy, the Utah Jazz were a 60 win playoff team.
If Utah has 60 wins in 2016-2017, they avoid the Golden State buzzsaw in the 2nd round. If healthy, they don’t get swept in the playoffs. If healthy—and this hurts worst of all—they maybe re-sign Gordon Hayward in the offseason.
Cut to this season, and injuries are hitting Utah full force. Gobert is starting his second month away from the team due to an injury to his other knee. Dante Exum suffers a fluke injury due to TJ Warren crashing on his shoulder. Ricky Rubio has had some setbacks. Raul Neto has been out of the lineup. Father Time has caught up to Joe Johnson. Even the wunderkind Donovan Mitchell is being hampered by a toe injury.
If Utah has a healthy roster, there’s a chance Dante Exum has supplanted Ricky Rubio as the starting point guard and Utah has an insanely athletic backcourt of Exum and Mitchell. If Joe Johnson is healthy, Utah has some spacing for those point guards to work with.
Maybe the injuries are Santa’s way of telling Utah we may think we want the playoffs, but the Golden State Warriors will only shoot our eye out. Because of injuries and a terrible December schedule, Utah is going to be looking at 15-26 by the time the middle of January rolls around.
If Santa can’t give Utah health, hopefully he gives Utah a win at the NBA Lottery for a chance at Luka Doncic.
What do you want Santa to bring the Utah Jazz? Is it spacing for Donovan Mitchell? Is it Dante Exum returning this year? Is it a jumpshot for Ricky Rubio?