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2023 Utah Jazz recap: A year of transition

Phoenix Suns v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

As we begin 2024, it’s time to look back on the previous year for the Utah Jazz. After 2022 brought massive changes from the coaching staff to the roster, 2023 was the beginning of the rebuild and a year of transition.

January

The first month of 2023 featured a young Utah Jazz team embracing their youth combined with the remaining vets on the team. Lauri Markkanen had fully taken the starring role, and rookies Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji had earned rotation minutes. Walker Kessler was named to the Rising Stars team for the upcoming All-Star Weekend in SLC.

February

February was a massive month for the Jazz franchise. The trade deadline brought big news, as the Jazz traded Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to take on salary and receive a potentially valuable first-round pick from the Lakers.

Lauri Markkanen was officially named an All-Star and then promoted to the starting lineup following an injury.

Salt Lake City hosted the 2023 All-Star Weekend, and it was a massive success. The Jazz were well-represented, with Markkanen starting in the All-Star game, Kessler in the Rising Stars game (coached by Deron Williams), and a group of Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Walker Kessler winning the skills challenge. Weber State alumni and beloved NBA star Damian Lillard won the three-point contest and said he was happy it happened in a place so special to him.

Utah Jazz minority owner Dwyane Wade was named a finalist for the 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame and was later inducted. Jazz broadcaster Holly Rowe was given the Basketball Hall of Fame Curt Gowdy Award.

Utah also signed free agent guard Kris Dunn, who is now a vital rotation player for the team.

March

Walker Kessler was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for February. Kris Dunn signed a second 10-day deal and then a multi-year contract. Luka Samanic signed a 10-day contract with the Jazz.

April

The NBA and NBPA agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement. The NBA regular season ended, and Utah finished with a respectable 37-45 record despite some serious tanking late in the year. Walker Kessler took third place in the Rookie of the Year voting, and Lauri Markkanen won the Most Improved Player award.

May

Justin Zanik received the third-most votes for the NBA Executive of the Year. Walker Kessler was unsurprisingly named to the All-Rookie First Team. The Draft Lottery gave the Spurs the first overall pick, and Utah stayed in its most likely spot at ninth.

June

Salt Lake City Stars hired former Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski as head coach. The Jazz hosted many draft prospects for workouts and interviews. Walker Kessler was selected for the USA Basketball team for the FIBA World Cup. Jazz owner Ryan Smith put on an impromptu Draft Party for Jazz fans after being prompted by fans on Twitter.

The Utah Jazz selected Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George, and Brice Sensabaugh in the NBA Draft. I gave some thoughts that already look outdated. The Jazz traded Rudy Gay and a second-round pick for John Collins, then fully guaranteed Kelly Olynyk’s contract.

July

The Jazz agreed to a contract extension with Jordan Clarkson. Utah hosted the SLC Summer League, and Keyonte George showed his potential. He continued his hot play in the Las Vegas Summer League. Utah signed Paul Reed to a deal; the Philadelphia 76ers matched it. Utah signed Omer Yurtseven.

August

The FIBA World Cup began, featuring many Utah Jazz players, including Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Simone Fontecchio, Kelly Olynyk, and Jordan Clarkson. The NBA released the 2023-24 season schedule, including the In-Season Tournament.

September

The Utah Jazz announced throwback jerseys from the New Orleans era and purple ‘City Edition’ uniforms inspired by the ‘90s purple mountain uniforms. Ryan Smith announced Jazz+, the Utah Jazz streaming service.

Sacramento Kings v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

October

The 2023-24 season began. The lineups changed regularly, and the Jazz struggled, but Keyonte George impressed fans.

November

Keyonte George earned a starting spot. The Jazz gave themselves a chance to advance in the In-Season Tournament but ultimately didn’t make it out of group play. Injuries hit multiple Jazz players.

December

The Jazz found their footing. Will Hardy changed lineups regularly, but the Jazz won seven of their last ten games. Collin Sexton found his role. The trade deadline is approaching, and rumors abound, but there hasn’t been much news from the Jazz for quite some time.

Best of 2023 for the Utah Jazz

  • Best player: Lauri Markkanen. Honorable mentions to Walker Kessler.
  • Game of the year: Jazz vs Clippers October 27th, 2023
  • Play of the year: Lauri Markkanen dunk on the Bulls, January 7th, 2023
  • Quote of the year: Will Hardy: “That was a masterpiece of dogsh*t.” following the loss on December 6th, 2023.
  • GIF of the year: Kelly Olynyk and the Jazz celebrate missed free throws that result in free chicken.