For the last three seasons the Utah Jazz have made the playoffs and they’ve done it with different players being the lead offensive threat. Two years ago it was with Gordon Hayward. The last two seasons it’s been with Donovan Mitchell carrying the load.
As different as those teams were, they both had Rudy Gobert leading the defense and found success in the playoffs.
This shouldn’t be surprising. When you look at history, the Defensive Player of the Year has always found success in the postseason and the majority of them have been to the finals and/or won a title.
Of this list of the last 20 years the winners of the award, 9 of them have won titles. What’s interesting is that of the last 20 years with the MVP award, 8 of the winners have won the title.
This is obviously over-simplified but it’s clear that one of the easiest ways to predict a finals contender would be to pick the team that has the Defensive Player of the Year.
The next two weeks are going to let Jazz fans know if they have a chance to win it all or not. The defense is not going to be in question next year, or any year, with Rudy Gobert at the helm. What will determine the Jazz’s ceiling is how good can the offense become.
The Jazz ended the regular season with the 2nd best defense in the league and the 15th best offense. Although that ranking on offense is a little misleading. The Jazz ended the season with one of the easiest stretches of any team in the league. Before hitting their last few months of the season, the Jazz were ranked in the 20’s on offense for most of the year. In the playoffs the Jazz predictably saw that offense fail them time and time again leading to their first round exit against the Rockets.
The goal for the Jazz now should be to improve their offense the best they can or they will continue to see their team sputter when it matters most. Of the DPOY winners that won a title they were usually surrounded by either a dynamic offense or elite offensive talents.
As the current roster develops the floor for the Jazz is going to continue to rise. The Jazz’s success so far is a testament to how dominant Rudy Gobert has been on the defensive end because the offense hasn’t been close. If the Jazz want to ensure a chance of winning a title they need their offense to match the level of their defense and the way to do that now is adding more talent.
The Jazz have already found a star in Donovan Mitchell who has shouldered the load offensively remarkably well during his first two seasons. He should continue to improve. Adding a player of the caliber of Mike Conley ensures the Jazz will have a dynamic offense next season and it just might be enough to get to the top but it still feels like the Jazz could use another addition that takes them over the top.
If the Jazz are able to add another start-level player, or a combination of players that create a synergy on offense that puts it in the top ten, the Jazz should be considered a safe bet to make the finals next season, and maybe even win it all.