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The Downbeat: Utah Jazz Could Win More Than Boston Celtics?

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The Gordon Hayward-less Utah Jazz could actually be better.

Utah Jazz v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We’ve had a dark week as Utah Jazz fans. I’m hoping to deliver some good news and bring back the good vibes around the Dunk. We’ll touch on a few positive posts and thoughts about our team for today’s Downbeat.

Some people are actually still pretty high on the Jazz, despite the loss of Gordon Hayward. In fact, arguments are being made that the Jazz are still better than the Boston Celtics.

Utah-Gordon Hayward > Boston+Gordon Hayward?

He’s admittedly high on Ricky Rubio, and even admits this projection may be too high for Utah. Do I see the Jazz finishing 4th in the West? No, not necessarily. But I think Rubio has been underutilized and under appreciated so far in his career. I think Rudy is beyond motivated and will make another jump this year. I think Derrick Favors is finally getting back to 2015-2016 Favors. I think Quin Snyder is just that good of a coach. And I think any model that has the Los Angeles Lakers as the worst team in the league is doing something right.

More good news! The writing team over at FanSided put out their Way-too-early 2017-2018 NBA awards picks. They were kind to the best center in the league:

4. Defensive Player of the Year

With defense being notoriously hard to measure accurately, and a growing awareness that steals and blocks are just a small piece of the puzzle, this tends to be an award based on reputation. Here’s who our staff picked.

Rudy Gobert — 44 percent

Draymond Green — 32 percent

Kawhi Leonard — 20 percent

Also receiving votes: Hassan Whiteside

Don’t ask me how, but somehow Rudy will be even better defensively this year. After coming in 2nd last season, he’ll more than earn his right to be called the best defensive player in the NBA. One could argue he already was this last year, but he’ll leave voters with no choice this time around.

Who doesn’t love some more Donovan Mitchell news? He has killed it in the summer leagues, and continues to earn respect league-wide. The latest was a piece by Chris Ryan over on The Ringer. His hope was to bring some peace and comfort to Jazz fans with his article here.

What you don’t see in the box score is that this dude is an absolute dog who hounded his man all game, and was looking to attack, attack, attack in the smaller Thomas & Mack Center gym. He was the name on everyone’s lips in Vegas — have you seen Mitchell? That kid is a freak. Mitchell looks incredible. The Jazz might have really found something

He makes some great points about not just Mitchell, but the Jazz in general. Give him a click and read the piece! More Mitchell highlights you say? Coming right up.

Love the defense. Love the stare down. Love the spin move and unselfish pass. Love Donovan Mitchell.

I’d like to take another minute to point out why the Jazz are doing just fine. They have a franchise player in Rudy Gobert. They have some great young pieces that may still develop into All-Star level talent in Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, and Donovan Mitchell. Ricky Rubio sets his teammates up for easy buckets better than anyone they’ve had in a long time. They have savvy veterans that simply help you win games in the Joe’s. Quin Snyder is a top 5 coach, and Dennis Lindsey is a top 5 GM.

On that Dennis Lindsey point, I know this man has a plan. I’m sure he’s had several sleepless nights working up the new direction the Jazz will be going in. He’s got great pieces to work with and spends his money wiser than Jody Gennesy does his calories. He may still have a move or 2 yet to make, and has around 40 million to spend next offseason.

Reminder about last offseason: Timofey Mozgov 4 year 64, Andre Drummond 5 year 130, Chandler Parsons 4 year 94, Evan Turner 4 year 70, Solomon Hill 4 year 48, Kent Bazemore 4 year 70, Mike Conley 5 year 153.

What did DL do? Joe Johnson 2 year 22, Rudy Gobert extension, Boris Diaw trade. This year he brought back Joe Ingles on a great deal, moved up for Mitchell, and brought in Rubio.

Dennis Lindsey has done so well as a GM that the Jazz aren’t in a position to tank after losing their All-Star Gordon Hayward. The franchise face left for supposedly greener pastures, and they’ll still be too good to start a full rebuild. That’s dang impressive. Lindsey will continue to build this team and we’ll be knocking on the door of contention sooner rather than later.

Now for some nostalgia. Bringing the Downbeats back got me thinking about what brought me here. The staff at SLC Dunk has been amazing for several years. The Downbeats have had me visiting SLC Dunk multiple times a day for several years. I went back and found my very first post here on the Dunk. It was September 19, 2013, Downbeat #1149 and Trey Burke and Alec Burks had just done some workouts with John Stockton. Here was my very first comment:

My point is this: What brought you here to SLC Dunk? What was your first comment? Post your first comment at the Dunk below in the comments below!