Will Donovan Mitchell take the next step?
In Team USA’s loss to France Donovan Mitchell had his best game of the tournament with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. All while shooting 12/23 from the field and 3/6 from three. It was the first time where Mitchell took the reigns and didn’t defer as much to Kemba Walker and Team USA was better for it. What happened in the 4th quarter? Team USA went away from Mitchell and we all know how that went.
In Utah, Mitchell will step back into the lead scoring role and this time with a playmaking guard in Mike Conley who will be a vastly better floor general than Walker. Conley will set up Mitchell with much better shots, along with everyone else on the Jazz, creating more opportunity for Mitchell to have more open looks.
The question is: will he make them?
According to NBA.com, Mitchell shot 40% on spot up threes. That was on 3 possessions per game and was good for 93rd percentile in the league. What if that ups to 5 possessions per game? Right there you’re looking at a jump. It’s reasonable to expect that now that defenses have to be honest with both Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Mitchell will also be playing with more spacing than he ever has. With last season’s starters, Mitchell was constantly running into clogged paint and double teams. This season, Justin Zanik has effectively removed all the hurdles.
Now it’s up to Mitchell to take advantage. My prediction? Mitchell is about to have an electric season.
Who plays the power forward?
The Jazz made some incredible additions this offseason that included Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Ed Davis. They’re filling the spots left by Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder. The only problem is that Favors and Crowder both filled minutes at the 4-spot and none of the players brought on have historically regularly filled that role.
This is probably the most talented Jazz roster, from top to bottom, in the history of the team, but no one knows who will fill the power forward spot except Quin Snyder. And he may not even know yet.
Obviously, Jeff Green has filled minutes at the 4-spot and perhaps this is a simple answer, but Quin Snyder has never been one to do the simple, easy solution.
My prediction is that we’ll see the Jazz play a style that may not incorporate a power forward at all and that they’ll simply play with 4 perimeter players and on screen-setting center for 48 minutes. It’s going to be a much different strategy than what we’ve seen, at least from the starters, but it has the potential to be incredible.
The key to all of this is Rudy Gobert who is so dominant on both ends of the floor, he makes the power forward position unnecessary. The Jazz’s best lineups last season were with Jae Crowder at the 4-spot. It spread the floor more effectively on offense (even with inefficient shooting from Rubio and Crowder) and they didn’t give up anything on the defensive end. This season we probably see a mix of Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’neale and Georges Niang filling that void and my guess is Gobert makes the transition seemless.
Will Joe Ingles keep up his play from the FIBA World Cup?
By the end of last season I had a scary thought. What if Joe Ingles decided to retire?
With everything Ingles went through last season with his son’s diagnosis of autism with his son it felt like basketball might be the last thing Ingles wanted to worry about. He looked lifeless at times last season when he was obviously dealing with more than was probably fair to ask of one person.
Compound all of that with the international travel and time away from his family and it’s easy to see Ingles wanting to step away. And who could blame him?
With all that said, I was a bit surprised that he wanted to play with the Boomers instead of choosing to stay at home.
But Ingles looks like he’s gotten joy from playing basketball again and it’s awesome to see. Not just in terms of what’s good for the Jazz, but for Joe Ingles the father and husband. I don’t know where he’s at mentally, and I’m just surmising, but maybe basketball is becoming an escape where before it might have felt like a vice.
Whatever is happening, Joe Ingles looks like his vintage self. He’s led Australia to an upset over Team USA and a victory over Rudy Gobert and France. If this version of Joe Ingles joins the Jazz this season, it’s just another elite weapon that will carry the Jazz deep into the playoffs.
Can the Jazz really win it all?
That’s the biggest story line of all. What if the Jazz forgot they’re the team from Utah and won it all?
With all the movement and injuries with players like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, the talent in the NBA has spread out more evenly than ever opening a door for anyone not named the Warriors to have a shot.
Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik believe they can make it because of that they’ve gone all in with all these moves.