And just like that Jazz basketball is back!
Having the first “normal” offseason since the pandemic began, it’s felt like an eternity since the Utah Jazz lost four straight games to the Los Angeles Clippers last June.
Now, with Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley fully healthy after a much-needed offseason to get healthy, the Jazz are ready for one of the best chances they’ll ever have to go for a title.
Despite last season being derailed mostly by injuries to Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, the playoffs showed some glaring weaknesses with the Jazz’s defense. Against the Clippers the Jazz perimeter defense got exposed in a bad way. A player they’ve picked up to combat that is Rudy Gay. Gay will bring more consistency offensively but, and this might be more important, he’ll bring a solid defensive upgrade to Georges Niang who left for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Problem? It was just revealed that Gay had offseason surgery on his heel.
Rudy Gay is coming off left heel surgery in the offseason. He will miss the preseason and the Jazz expect him back early in the regular season. He is also going through portions of practice— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) September 30, 2021
It’s never good news to hear about an unknown offseason surgery, especially for one of your most important offseason acquisitions, but it’s clear that the Jazz won’t be missing him for too long this season. It’s a shame that Gay won’t be available this preseason because it would be nice for the Jazz to have opportunities in exhibition to try some different lineups, especially ones that have Gay at center. That will have to wait.
In the meantime it likely means a lot of minutes for Eric Paschall, the other new acquisition for the Jazz.
The other player to watch this game will be Jared Butler. The exciting young rookie fell way too far in the draft and in the the Jazz’s recent zoom practice he showed why.
pic.twitter.com/fufnTMNlOm better angle— Jeremy (@NBA_Jeremy1) October 3, 2021
In the open practice Butler showed fantastic patience and poise for a first-year player. He also showed an ability to handle the ball in an exciting way. This preseason is a chance for Butler to really show what he can do and the Jazz should give him every opportunity. He’s a perfect fit for what Quin Snyder and the Jazz do and could be a fantastic addition the Jazz.
When: 6:30 PM MDT - October 4, 2021
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: NBA League Pass, Illegal Streams because AT&T Sportsnet is choosing not to broadcast Jazz games still.
Radio: 97.5 FM, 1280 AM The Zone, KZNS / S: KTUB
What to watch for
The Jazz starters aren’t likely to play much this game and the Jazz young prospects need to show their talent. A lot of eyes will be on Jared Butler and what he does in live action. Will he show the “it” factor that he’s already shown so far? He’ll get that chance and if he has what it takes to contribute right away he should play well against a young Spurs team.
This is also a chance for Miye Oni to play and show some of the things he did in the Olympics. The Jazz need Oni to take a step. The perimeter defense for the Jazz last season left a lot to be desired and if they can have lineups that include Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gay and Miye Oni, it will give them another wrinkle to throw against opposing teams. Utah really needs a defensive lineup to throw out there when they have leads. Sl many times last season we saw the Jazz’s second unit not hold the lead when needed. If they can lock things down with a group that doesn’t have Rudy Gobert on the floor, it’s a huge bonus for this team.
Now, with the preview written, I just want to say thank you to all of you who come to this site and read our coverage. It’s a lot of fun and I hope everyone is as excited as the SLC Dunk team is for this season to get going. Thanks for joining us!