Much like the season before, the Jazz had a top 3 defense and ended with a middling offense (#2 overall defense and the #14 offense according to NBA.com). It was almost too predictable.
For most of last season, that #14 offensive rating was sitting in the lower 20’s. A softer schedule to end the season helped bump that up until the Jazz faced the Rockets and, well, we all know what happened then.
This offseason the Jazz are faced with multiple crossroads and decisions. Of all the things that may happen, one thing’s for sure, they need to improve their offense or they’ll never get over the hump.
From the moment Rudy Gobert stepped on the floor as a starter the Jazz have been one of the stingiest defenses year after year. The identity of the Jazz has been Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert crushing penetration at the rim year after year. It’s led to multiple years of regular season success.
But in the playoffs it hasn’t been a formula to get past the elite level teams. Every time the Jazz have been faced with either the Warriors or Rockets the last three years, the Jazz have gone home.
Now’s the time for that identity to change some. If the Jazz are going to get over that hump they have to provide scoring help to compliment Gobert’s DPOY defense. This may mean conceding a few spots in the team defense rankings but if the Jazz can get that offense in the top ten, there’s a chance they are contenders next season.
Here are some options for the Jazz in free agency this offseason.
Harris would be the perfect fit for the Jazz. This season, despite Jae Crowder only shooting 33% from three, Utah’s most successful lineup had Jae Crowder at the 4 spot. Now, imagine plugging Tobias Harris into his role and see what happens.
On top of Harris getting even more chances to shoot the three, consider the spacing that would create. Because defenders have to at least respect Crowder, it opens lanes for other Jazz players to get to the rim and run plays.
Easily the Jazz’s biggest rising star is Donovan Mitchell. His best skill? Getting to the rim and scoring. So what do teams do? Force him to beat them with pull up threes by packing the paint and going under on screens. Having Tobias Harris would eliminate the opposing 4 from sitting in the paint.
The biggest issue for the Jazz offense is that it creates easy gameplans for opposing defenses. With Tobias Harris, the defensive gameplan just got a LOT more complicated.
Another issue for Utah this season was Donovan Mitchell struggling with playmaking at times. There were moments where his passing shined but carrying the entire load looked like too much at times.
In the Future, Mitchell may be able to carry the entire load but, for now, he needs help carrying the offense.
Kemba Walker, a multi-year all-star, is more than ready to step in and take on part of the scoring load.
Walker is a clutch scorer who has never been surrounded by an elite defense like he would have in Utah. He’d also play off of a young superstar in Mitchell and it’s easy to see his game taking a small step in terms of efficiency when defenses can’t solely focus on him.
Utah would instantly have one of the premier backcourts in the league and could score in bunches night in and night out.
Brogdon isn’t the sexiest name on the market, but his numbers might be.
Here’s a list of all the 50/40/90 seasons in NBA history: Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Malcolm Brogdon.
On top of historic shooting, Brogdon is a solid defender that contributed to the #1 defense in the league this season. Brogdon has shot the three at a high level for three seasons in a row and has improved his game each year.
He’s not the playmaker that Kemba Walker is but his shooting is inarguable and it has only gotten better each season. Having a lights out shooter like Brogdon who would fit nicely in a team defensive scheme with Rudy Gobert makes this a sure thing to help improve the team.
Brogdon in the clutch this season (defined as teams within 5 points with 5 points left) is shooting 65% from the field and 75% from three. I’m okay with those numbers coming to Utah. That’s pure silliness.
These aren’t the only options but, for me, if Utah ended up with any of these players in free agency it would be a home run.
What players would you be hoping for the Jazz to pick up?