Preseason Preview #7: Utah Jazz

Season Goal: Find a 3rd star

The Utah Jazz are going to be one of the most interesting teams in the NBA this season. After the rookie sensation, Donovan Mitchell shocked the league and led Utah to a 5th seed finish people still question how good this team is. Although their second star, Rudy Gobert, is a defensive star and reigning defensive player of the year, the Jazz lacks a second offensive creator. The lack of offense on this team is the only thing holding them back. They had the 2nd best defense last year and an amazing head coach in Quin Snyder, but still, lack offensive firepower.

Storylines:

Greatest Defense?

Last season, Utah ranked 2nd in the NBA in defensive rating, but they should be way better this season. First of all, the only team ahead of them was Boston who is now adding a subpar defender in Gordon Hayward. His offensive value makes them improve overall, but their defensive rating may suffer. For Utah, they will be adding the reigning DPOY in Rudy Gobert for an additional 26 games (assuming he stays healthy). Individually, Gobert boasts a 97.7 defensive rating and shortly after his return the Jazz went on a 28-6 streak. Obviously his defensive impact his huge, and if he isn’t injured this season Utah will be a nightmare for opposing offenses.

The Surprise Star

As mentioned before the Utah Jazz badly need another star player. Especially one who can do things on offense. There is a chance this star is Dante Exum. After being selected with the 5th pick of the 2014 NBA draft, Exum hasn’t had a chance to prove his value.

Despite playing in all 82 games his rookie year Exum has struggled to stay healthy. He missed the 2015-2016 season with a torn ACL and only managed to play 66 games in 2016-17 and just 14 games last season. His injuries issues have led to a lack of consistency, which has stunted his growth. He has made small improvements in his scoring and efficiency every season but hasn’t yet made a star-level jump. During the playoffs, he showed flashes of being an elite guard but also signs that he wasn’t ready. Hopefully, he can stay healthy this season and help the Jazz become a top-tier team in the west.

Depth Chart:

PG: Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Raul Neto

SG: Donovan Mitchell, Alec Burks, Grayson Allen

SF: Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal, Thabo Sefolosha, Georges Niang

PF: Derrick Favors, Jae Crowder

C: Rudy Gobert, Ekpe Udoh. Tony Bradley

Salary Cap Situation:

~119M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Ricky Rubio, Alec Burks, Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh

Bad Contracts: None

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