It’s been a theme this offseason and even toward the end of last year that the Utah Jazz have left the wasteland that is NBA obscurity. Yes, there are still the occasional “Joe Ingles defends like a barstool” moments of ignorance, but it’s becoming an exception rather than the well established rule.
One example of this comes from how high the Jazz have made it in preseason predictions. They’ve made it as high as the second seed and usually no lower than fourth. And now, even the juggernaut Golden State Warriors are taking peeks over their shoulder at what may be a challenger to their dominance in the coming years.
Charlie Stanton over at Golden State of Mind wrote why he feels the Jazz are the “greatest threat” to the Warriors dynasty moving forward, even comparing Utah’s potential rise to what Golden State managed to do about five years ago.
Last season, the Utah Jazz finished fifth in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record. Like Steph Curry in the 2012-2013 season, the success of Utah’s squad was rooted in a young star, Donovan Mitchell. In any other year, Mitchell would have won Rookie of the Year. He is the type of transcendent talent that can ignite dynasties. His offensive growth and defensive tenacity will only improve in the years to come.
Mitchell is surrounded by solid veterans in Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio and almost-All-Star Rudy Gobert. The Jazz are still yearning for a Mitchell co-pilot who can score in bunches like Klay Thompson, but it seems Utah is just getting started. Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and rookie Grayson Allen could be the start of a formidable armada of sharp shooters.
This Utah team has something the 2013 Warriors did not. A good coach. Quin Snyder is considered one of the best coaches in the NBA, beloved by his players and assistant coaches alike. His teams play focused defense and team-first basketball. What the Jazz lack in three-point shooting ability, they make up for in grit and focus.
Now, the elephant in the room is that the gap between Utah and Golden State in terms of championship odds is larger than the roughly 730 miles between Salt Lake City and Oakland. However, it’s clear that a legitimate championship window former for the Jazz is on the horizon. That window is far from a guarentee, but the stars could be aligning just as they did (and continue to do) for the Warriors.
Going back to that point about Ingles guarding casual kitchen sitting equipment, he seemed to take pride in his blocking prowess with this retweet of a Jazz highlight reel.
After that I am confident I lead our team in blocks per game.... https://t.co/aEPQOwRn3o— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) August 16, 2018
Not sure what Rudy Gobert thinks about Ingles leading the team in blocks. Though it should be mentioned that Joe Ingles played 26 more games than Gobert and had 109 fewer blocks. But hey, there’s always a chance.
It didn’t take the Jazz long to replace David Stockton’s spot on the roster. On Thursday, the team signed former Purdue star Isaac Haas. The 7-foot-2 center was a member of the Jazz’s Las Vegas Summer League team. He didn’t put up much production, tallying just 15 points and 19 rebounds in four appearances.
Derrick Favors got a nod from the NBA with one of his 82 blocks being ranked 24th in their rankings.
At #24 of the TOP 60 SWATS from the 2017-18 season... @dfavors14 of the @UtahJazz! #NBABlockWeek #BESTofNBA pic.twitter.com/PSJqVcGQqA— NBA (@NBA) August 16, 2018
Keep in mind with this block, it was Giannis Antetokounmpo, that freakishly long and athletic guy. Really impressive swat, and there should be plenty more of that this season.
Speaking of Favors, he isn’t known for his social media presence. When he does poke his nose into that realm, it’s usually good (or really cryptic). And this time it was good.
You guys see this? Expand the pic to see Favs response to a troll. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/yohxMNoSUt— Jodi Fairbanks (@JodiFairbanks) August 17, 2018
Favors has shown undying loyalty and a hard-working attitude. If “Jazz DNA” were to be reincarnated into human form, it’d be Derrick Favors. This was just another small but notable example. And he owned a troll, so what more can you ask?