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538’s Projections for the Utah Jazz (presumed) Starting 5

What do their models say about this lineup?

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020-2021 season is nearly upon us. The Utah Jazz All Stars are extended and locked in. Boy does that feel good to say. No drama, no distractions, no worry. Just Jazz basketball. With that in mind, FiveThirtyEight puts out NBA Player Projections every year, powered by their advanced RAPTOR statistic. It also tries to identify player comparisons based on their model.

So what do their numbers say about our Utah Jazz?

The (presumed) Starting 5

Rudy Gobert

Let’s just get straight to the highest paid center in the history of the NBA. None other than the stifle tower himself. Rudy is one of the most impactful players this league has ever seen, even if he doesn’t shoot threes or score 30 a game.

538’s model really likes Gobert. In fact, their 5 year market value is nearly identical to what the Jazz just signed him to. That’s got to be reassuring for those of you worried about the latter years of this deal (myself included!). He’s a bonafide star and All-NBA player. Getting him to sign that extension means a lot of wins coming Utah’s way. He’s in his prime and this statistical projections does not anticipate a steep drop off anytime soon. Has he reached his peak? I kind of doubt it, but time will tell.

Bojan Bogdanovic

Getting to watch Bogey in the preseason again was such a joy. I’ve said this before, but I don’t think there’s a player in Jazz history that I came to love so instantly than Bojan. And his new wrist is making that even easier!

What!? A rotation player!? That’s it! This guy has improved his scoring every single year in the league and averaged over 20 points per game last season. And made it seem ridiculously easy at times. A 5 year market value of 17.2 million. LOL. We are paying him more than that this next season alone. And it feels like very fair value. I’m just baffled by this and really struggling here. I expect big things from our favorite Croation, 538’s model be danged!

His list of 10 most comparable players is just laughable. Like, I don’t even know some of the names here and I’d consider myself a fairly informed NBA fan and history buff. O. Woolridge, Fred Roberts? Get outta here. Bojan is going to crush this rating...

Royce O’Neale

The numbers like Royce here. He had a solid 2019-2020, minus the bubble. He seemed to have lost his confidence in Orlando, so hopefully he’ll back on track this year. Royce is the type of player every team wants on their roster. He’s low maintenance. He shoots the 3 well. And he defends well. He’s gone from undrafted to a 5 year market value of 51.8 million. The Jazz are apparently getting a good deal next season by paying him 8.8 million for his production. He’s got to live up to that contract if the Jazz want to achieve their goals this season.

Royce’s 2nd closest player comparison? None other than Bryon Russell from 1999. Let’s hope that projects a similar ending to Utah’s season back then (minus the push off of course!).

Donovan Mitchell

Utah’s 2nd All Star on the roster. The ink is barely dry on his new deal, but I’m sure Donovan Mitchell is only getting started.

I think the question here is whether we will get the regular season Donovan, or the Orlando Donovan. Or even the bubble playoffs Donovan? Because that dude was on a different level. No, that dude was in a different galaxy. He was absolutely locked in and wanted that!

Some big time names come up on his comparison list. Gilbert Arenas (personal favorite of mine), Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, among others. Will Donovan be able to make the jump from star with a little s to Superstar in this league? That might be the biggest hurdle for the Jazz to join the true contenders.

Mike Conley

Similar question to Mitchell: Are we getting bubble Mike for good now? Let’s hope so. Bubble Mike looked more like Memphis Mike. And that’s a big deal. I mean just look at his model:

Do I expect him to get back to All Star status like he was in 2019. No, but I definitely expect than what he provided last year. In the bubble, for example, he got to 18 points and 5 assists per game. That’s what the Jazz are looking to get out of him. And experience tells us that point guards only get better with time in Quin Snyder’s system. I’m really excited to see what Conley can do in his 2nd year with a Jazz jersey.

In my opinion, the Jazz have one of the best starting lineups in the league. Statistics agree with me there as well to be honest. Among lineups in the league with at least 250 minutes played, the Jazz actually had 2 rank in the top 10 for net rating. One with this starting lineup, and one with Conley swapped for Joe Ingles.

And now the Jazz have bolstered their bench by bringing Derrick Favors back. Plus having Jordan Clarkson all season long. Not to mention the development of Miye Oni and Juwan Morgan. And the late free agency addition of Shaquille Harrison.

Let’s go!