2016/17 in review: 51-31, 5th seed in the West. Lost to the Golden State Warriors in four games in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Key Offseason Acquisitions: PG Ricky Rubio, SG Donovan Mitchell, SF Thabo Sefolosha, PF Jonas Jerebko, C Epke Udoh
2017-18 Projected Starting Lineup: PG Ricky Rubio, SG Rodney Hood, SF Joe Ingles, PF Derrick Favors, C Rudy Gobert
— kristen kenney (@kristenkenney) September 19, 2017
2017-18 Season Outlook: Entering the 2017-18 season there are a lot of questions to be raised regarding the Utah Jazz and if they are a playoff team this year. During the offseason the Western Conference got significantly stronger and teams that weren’t in the playoffs last season, are merging their way into playoff talks. That leaves the Jazz as the odd man out. They still have most of their core from last season besides all-star forward Gordon Hayward who left the Jazz to join the Boston Celtics this offseason.
Another thing to look at is their young pieces in the back court. Rookie Donovan Mitchell who was drafted with the 13th pick, has already shown his versatility in the Summer League and could step in right away and make a difference for the Jazz. Dante Exum has a lot to prove this season expecially since it’s his contract year. He suffered a torn ACL in the 2015-16 season and missed the entire year, the following season (2016-17) he mustered 66 games. Exum has to make a name for himself this season if he wants to continue to play in the NBA.
The addition of Ricky Rubio is going to have a huge impact for the Jazz this season. Rubio hasn’t been able to prove himself as a top-tier point guard in the NBA as of yet. Rubio has gotten a lot of criticism in the past few seasons that he has yet to live up to being a top-five pick and being selected before two-time league MVP Stephen Curry. The Jazz aren’t in a different position than what Rubio’s last team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, were in.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) September 16, 2017
Fifth year center out of France, Rudy Gobert, also has a lot on his plate this season. He now has a point guard who is a pass-first player and can help him score in the post, where he is the most effective. The top of Gobert’s list has to be an All-Star appearance this season. He has never made an All-Star team before and this is the year he can prove himself. The offense is going to be ran through Gobert and Rubio, while the former will be expected to anchor the defense from the interior.
There is a chance that the Jazz do make the playoffs this season. If they do, they shouldn’t make it very far, with a first-round exit the most likely scenario. It would be great for the young players and even some veterans to make the postseason, but it just isn’t plausible with the roster they currently boast.
Projected Strengths: Mix of veteran and youth players, three-point scoring.
Projected Weaknesses: All-around defense, athleticism.
Projected win total: 35-41 wins.