It’s been a tricky couple of months for the Utah Jazz. They eclipsed 50 wins for the first time in several years. They advanced through the first round of the playoffs and beat a very solid Clippers team. They were swept by the Golden State Warriors, who capped off an incredible season with an NBA Championship and dropping only one game in the entire playoffs. The general feel of this past Utah Jazz season was a great success. And then the off-season came.
The Utah Jazz organization, players, and fans were put through an exhausting Gordon Hayward free-agency situation that ended with him leaving for the Boston Celtics. The Jazz did what they could to recover, signing several veteran players to deepen the roster.
After the Hayward debacle, many national media members, players, and fans have counted the Jazz out. “No offensive threats”, “No All-stars”, “No go-to scorers”, are some of the things being said about a team that many are predicting to fall from grace and miss the playoffs this upcoming season. But don’t tell Quin Snyder that.
Snyder posted a very positive and inspirational message on a construction scheduling board inside of Vivint SmartHome Arena after a tour Tuesday morning. Although his message was directed at the construction team, it’s safe to say Quin’s message is for all of us. A tweet posted by the Utah Jazz shows Snyder writing the message, fully decked out in construction attire.
It’s a bit difficult to read, but here’s what the the message said:
“This is phenomenal. We are beyond grateful for your work. This partnership is in our hands now. I will promise you we will work as hard as your team has and do our part. Go Jazz. Building something special. Built to last. -QS”
Snyder’s message is a simple, yet outstanding piece of inspiration for the Jazz organization and fans. No one can question the toughness, work ethic, and attitude of Quin Snyder. His promise to do his part should be comforting and exciting to Jazz fans everywhere. After what may seem to some as a depressing off-season, the Utah Jazz have proven in every capacity that they are a first-class organization. This is just one example of the type of individuals the Jazz have chosen to represent the organization. The Jazz don’t care for pre-season rankings, playoff predictions, or expert opinions. What they are building is bigger than a single game, player, or season- it’s built to last.
In an article published by Bleacher Report, Adam Fromal predicted the seeding of the NBA playoffs if they were to move to a 16-seed format with no conferences. The predictions were based off of NBA Math’s “Total Points Added” metric. The Jazz came in as the 14 seed, despite losing their leading scorer this off-season. This was higher than the Clippers, Grizzlies, and NBA Twitter darling Philadelphia 76ers. He states that although losing Hayward hurts the Jazz, they will still be a tough team.
Ultimately, this is a team that revels in its defensive identity, and that identity is preserved by the current members of the roster. Joe Ingles' return is huge. The additions of Ricky Rubio and Thabo Sefolosha give the Jazz even more backcourt firepower on the preventing end, and Rubio's penchant for thievery and transition dime-dropping could help jump-start an occasionally stagnant offense.
He also reveres Rudy Gobert and the franchise staple that he is, as well as supports the theory that Gobert > Gordon Hayward.
Yes, Hayward scored the most points on the Jazz. Rudy Gobert was still the best player in Salt Lake City, making a monumental impact not only with his rim protection, but also with his penchant for finishing plays around the hoop after screening and rolling. His improved touch in the restricted area made him a two-way force for the first time in his career.
Just take a peek at ESPN.com's real plus/minus, and you'll see Hayward sitting at No. 29 (3.06) while Gobert places No. 8 (6.37) for their respective work in 2016-17.
Biggest hurdle: Staying efficient offensively
Though a dynamic offensive weapon, Donovan Mitchell's streaky scoring and suspect playmaking instincts could lead to inefficiency.
He often settles for hero shots and hasn't yet put together a full season of consistent outside shooting. Mitchell only shot 39.6 percent from the floor in summer league after converting just 40.8 percent of his field goals during his sophomore season at Louisville, when he registered a 16.0 assist percentage that suggests facilitating for teammates isn't a strength.
The point of the article wasn’t trying to slander Mitchell, but take a realistic look at each draftee’s weakness. Mitchell was incredibly entertaining to watch during the summer league, but it’s important to keep expectations gauged to avoid a letdown. Just like every rookie that comes into the NBA, Mitchell has room to improve and things to work on.
Among others that have #TakenNote this off-season, Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Trai Turner sported an awesome throwback Utah Jazz hat during a presser covering his new contract extension.
It’s always nice to see anyone outside of Utah sporting Jazz gear, let alone other professional athletes. The Utah Jazz even said they have found a new favorite football player.
We have a new fav football player!— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 26, 2017
Adi Joseph of USA Today ranked all 30 NBA teams by how much Kyrie Irving could help them. He put the Jazz at number three, in “the best fits” tier.
Hard to imagine an easier move here. The Jazz would have to give up recently acquired Ricky Rubio along with likely Rodney Hood, one of Donovan Mitchell or Dante Exum and a pick. But that hefty price would probably be worth it for a team with major offensive problems. The thing about this move is that it doesn’t seem like something the Jazz would do — they’ve built their entire team identity around defense and depth and would be sacrificing both.
Kyrie Irving in a Utah Jazz jersey seems extremely unlikely, but there is no denying how good of a fit he would be in Utah’s system. Despite Irving’s defensive weaknesses, he would give the Jazz one of the most dynamic scoring options in the league and drastically increase their odds at being a contender in the West.