The new Jazz team this year is surprisingly like the team we saw in 2017/2018. Management didn’t make many moves this summer. This is unusual in the NBA. Summer is typically the time that teams are looking to rebuild or revamp their lineups. But the Jazz chose to stick largely with the same players from last year.
But instead of tanking without Hayward, the Jazz did quite well this past season. They did indeed win fewer games than the year before but the drop in record was not dramatic. They even had a better point differential than they did the previous year with Hayward on the team.
Much of Utah’s success has to do with Donovan Mitchell. The rookie put the team on his back and played an amazing rookie season, scoring about 20 points per game.
Chances In 2018
The Jazz may not have added any big time players to their roster for the 2018 season but that doesn’t mean we can count them out. They proved last year that they can be a contender. With Mitchell in his second year, the young star may have more confidence and ability to lead his team and compete with the powerhouse teams in the West like the Rockets and Warriors.
Perhaps the best sign for the Jazz is how they ended last season. They simply went on a tare, winning 29 of their last 35 games. Their defense, headed by Gobert in the center, is practically impenetrable. The ended the season letting teams score only 96 points per 100 possessions. This put them in first place in this category. Second was Philadelphia, another team on the rise, who allowed 4.8 more points per 100 possessions.
Another force on defense is guard Dante Exum. Exum has had trouble remaining healthy but if he can, the combination of him on the perimeter and Gober inside could be a very difficult prospect for other teams.
A big question for the Jazz is how Ricky Rubio might perform. He can be a deadly scorer but is notoriously hit or miss. Teams like to ignore him on the perimeter and Rubio has trouble if he can’t penetrate.
But Utah is not reliant on Rubio. Gobert can create offense as well. If he plays a solid center and Rubio can create options for Exum up top, the Jazz could be a very effective team on offense.