The Utah Jazz are a good team.
They’ve been a good team for most of their existence. This team has had many eras of high-level basketball, from Dantley and Griffith to Stockton and Malone, Williams and Boozer, and now to Mitchell and Gobert.
After Deron Williams was traded and the rest of that squad slowly went their separate ways, the Jazz went for a complete rebuild. They hired Quin Snyder as the coach to bring that team back to the playoffs. He accomplished that in two short years, fielding a 51-win team led by Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. That team won their first-round series and then fell to the dynastic Warriors.
Since that season, have the Jazz improved?
I know that seems like a strange question, but I think it’s worth exploring.
Utah’s win/loss percentage has consistently hovered around .600 since 2016-17. That’s good! They took a minor step back when Gordon Hayward left, which was also a year in which Gobert missed significant time, but they bounced back and won a playoff series.
The following two seasons consisted of building a new team around Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. The additions of Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson occurred during this time, and the team stagnated as they tried to fit in. Then, something changed in the 2020-21 season. The Jazz finally figured it out! They put it all together. What had been a middle-of-the-pack playoff team suddenly jumped to a dominant first seed. Utah was the best team in the league by just about every metric. They were elite on both ends of the court.
Utah quickly dispatched the young Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and then ran into trouble. One can blame it on injuries, coaching, or the players, but whatever the reason, the Jazz fell to an inferior Clippers team.
So what? That happens. Most championship teams have to take their lumps in the playoffs for a few years before they break through to the top. Why is this such a big deal for Utah?
Well, for one, they had been a top-five team in the league based on net rating for four out of the last five years and never made it passed the second round. But it isn’t just that. This season should have been a time to run it back and prove that last year’s dominance wasn’t a fluke. Instead, they’ve fallen back to the mediocre team they were before. A good team! Top five in net rating yet again. But not the contender they should be.
Today, the 2022 playoffs are almost here, and the Utah Jazz are once again looking at likely a fourth or fifth seed. They look significantly worse than the Phoenix Suns and some of the other top teams in the NBA. Could they go on a run and win a couple of playoff series? Absolutely they could. They’re a very good team. But it seems nearly impossible to envision them winning a championship this year, which seems significant considering the team they were a year ago.
What happens next?
The entire league is curious to see what will happen to the Utah Jazz if they have another disappointing playoff run this year. Rumors abound, including questions about Donovan Mitchell’s happiness, Rudy Gobert’s trade value, and Quin Snyder’s next destination. Utah is not known for making significant changes, but they did bring in “Trader Danny” Ainge to the front office this season. What might happen if these playoffs don’t go the way Jazz fans hope?
If the Jazz flame out in the playoffs this year, which is most likely?— Calvin Chappell (@CHALVIN2018) March 29, 2022
Opinions from fans are all over the place. Some believe big trades are on the horizon, even trades of star players. Some believe Quin Snyder could be fired or traded. The common ground most can agree on, though, is that the Jazz will need to make some changes. After so many years of similar results, there needs to be a change to the formula.
This offseason could be a huge one for the Utah Jazz.