clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 Utah Jazz Preseason: Previewing Utah’s NBA and NBL opponents

Taking a look ahead at Utah’s national and international preseason opponents.

The Utah Jazz announced their preseason schedule this week. The Utah Jazz preseason will once again get a touch of Australian flair as the Jazz will face NBL teams, Perth Wildcats and Adelaid 36ers. The Utah Jazz will have some new NBA faces in their preseason as they are not having to face the Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, or Los Angeles Lakers. Instead they will face the Portland Trail Blazers, the Toronto Raptors who will be in Utah on their way home from a game in Vancouver (#MakeTheNorthwestDivisionNorthwestAgain), and the Sacramento Kings.

Let’s take a closer look at Utah’s preseason schedule.

Perth Wildcats

When: Saturday, September 29th, 2018, 7:00PM MT

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena

Last Season Record: 16-12 (Finished 3rd in NBL)

Notable Players: Bryce Cotton, J.P. Tokoto, Damian Martin

The Perth Wildcats are the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBL. They have a storied history and have an NBL leading 8 championships. Many Jazz fans will immediately recognize a familiar face on the Perth Wildcats roster: Bryce Cotton. Bryce Cotton, for those Jazz fans who have forgotten, had one of the nastiest dunks in Utah Jazz history.

If you’re a Jazz fan who’s into the deep cuts, you’ll recognize JP Tokoto who played for the Utah Jazz summer league team last year. He signed with Perth last year and averaged 15.4 rebounds, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a game.

Last year Utah played the Sydney Kings who finished 7th out of 8 teams in the NBL. The Perth Wildcats will most certainly put up more of a fight as they feature three players who could be bonafide NBA rotation players in Cotton, Tokoto, and Damian Martin. Bryce Cotton was the NBL Grand Final MVP in 2017, Tokoto helped keep Perth in the playoff hunt as they battled injuries, and Damian Martin is a six time NBL Defensive Player of the Year. While that statement will certainly cause many Jazz fans to perk up, this Australian league DPOY doesn’t patrol the pain, he secures the perimeter. Martin plays point guard.

This NBL opponent will be a great warm up for Utah as their first game of preseason. They are a competitive team with NBL championship aspirations. They’ll be giving Utah their best effort. They are going to be severely outmatched. Bryce Cotton was Utah’s 12th best player on a 38 win lottery team in 2014-2015. In 2018, there’s a real chance Bryce Cotton wouldn’t be able to have the potential to be one of Utah’s two way player signees. So while Utah will get a feisty effort from Perth, they’ll be able to work out the cobwebs and put on a clinic while being challenged.

Toronto Raptors

NBA: Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

When: Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018, 7:00PM MT

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena

Last season record: 59-23

Notable acquistions: Kawhi Leonard

The Utah Jazz are one of the first teams to face off against the new look Toronto Raptors. While this game means absolute nothing, it will be exciting to see Kawhi Leonard teaming up with The North. The last time Utah faced the Toronto Raptors it was at the beginning of their “The Strength of the Team is the Team” second half of the season comeback. Ricky Rubio hit a three to put Utah ahead and to beat Toronto in Toronto. That win along with the Jazz’s win in Detroit became the catalyst for Utah’s turnaround.

There will be quite a few opposing team scouts watching this matchup in preseason to see what they can glean about this new look Toronto Raptors team. Utah’s defense will certainly prove a challenge for Toronto’s elite players. It’ll be Toronto’s first matchup against an elite defensive team after facing off against Portland’s elite offense in Vancouver.

The matchup that will be interesting to watch will be Donovan Mitchell vs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard most certainly will get some possessions guarding Donovan Mitchell. Kawhi Leonard is the Rudy Gobert of perimeter defense. This will be a great matchup to see how far Donovan Mitchell’s development has come after his first full NBA offseason.

Adelaide 36ers

When: Friday, October 5th, 2018, 7:00PM MT

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena

Last Season Record: 16-12 (Finished 3rd in NBL)

Notable Players: Daniel Johnson, Josh Childress

The Adelaide 36ers were founded 36 years ago in the NBL. Sorry, I had to write that because it seemed so serendipitous. The 36ers finished second in their league and made it to the NBL Grand Final. Once again, this team will prove to be a competitive team against Utah like the Perth Wildcats, they will be hungry, but they lack the top end talent to push Utah.

Jazz fans would be impressed with this Adelaide 36ers team and might see a mirror image of themselves in them. The 36ers were 8-9 at one point in the season, until they turned it around winning 10 out of their last 12 games of the season. Their big time turnaround got them 2nd in the NBL. This Adelaide team was also seen as dead in the water as a young team two years ago, but surprised many.

Last year the Utah Jazz faced two cupcake international teams. This year? It’ll be a much different story. The Jazz will beat both these NBL teams by a wide margin, but these Aussies will make Utah break a sweat.

[Sidenote: In what feels like the most Australian thing ever, the Adelaide 36ers and Perth Wildcats got into a big time brawl last February. Australians? Engaged in a brawl on the court? You’re kidding! Go on. If you’d like to see the photos, you’re welcome. If you’re not rooting for a little kerfuffle between Joe Ingles/Jae Crowder/Grayson Allen and this Adelaide 36er team, do you even Australian?]

Portland Trail Blazers

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

When: Sunday, October 7th, 2018, 7:00PM MT

Where: Moda Center

Last season record: 49-33

Notable acquistions: Anfernee Simons

Utah’s achilles heel the last few seasons. For some reason, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum— — have gotten the better of Utah’s elite perimeter and interior defense. The hope next season is the familiarity gained by an additional season of continuity with Utah’s squad will eliminate the offensive advantage by these backcourt wunderkinds. By this point, Utah might be trying to avoid playing their starters much. It’s a very real scenario that Utah will only play their starters during the 1st quarter and the rest of the game will be played by Tony Bradley, Grayson Allen, Georges Niang, and whoever has fallen behind on the depth chart to start the season.

Same goes for the Portland Trail Blazers. While we’d love to see Utah get revenge for their game at the end of last season. This isn’t the revenge game, it is only a preview.

Sacramento Kings

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

When: Thursday, October 11th, 2018, 8:00PM MT

Where: Golden 1 Center

Last season record: 27-55

Notable acquistions: Luka Doncic Marvin Bagley III, Ben McLemore, Deyonta Davis, Yogi Ferrell, Nemanja Bjelica

The last game of the preseason comes against the Sacramento Kings. The Sacramento Kings are like a big budget direct to Netflix movie. They have promise, they have a goal, but any time they get any head of steam or direction, it crashes and burns. The Sacramento Kings are the BRIGHT of NBA teams. Utah most likely won’t a play a starter in this game, but the entertaining thing to watch with this matchup is how long Sacramento can go without playing 3 or more big men at the same time.

Sacramento has big men galore on their roster. Look at it and it looks like Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor’s Frankenstein monster. While KOC put together a roster with Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap, Vlade Divac in Sacramento has put together a roster with Nemanja Bjelica, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos, Marvin Bagley III, Willie Cauley-Stein, Harry Giles, and Skal Labissiere. It’s quite the clustercuss.

Main things to watch in this is how the backup point guard battle shakes out, has Grayson Allen earned rotation minutes in the preseason, and does Thabo Sefolosha look back to 100% after his injury. Those will be the questions the Utah Jazz hopefully have answers to by game one of the regular season.

There you go. The Utah Jazz preseason preview in August. What game are you most looking forward to?