The Jazz finished up their season with a memorable playoff series with Denver that they ended up on the wrong side of. Utah won’t soon forget the defeat they endured and will look to replace those memories with better ones this season. Can they get farther than last season or will they face defeat again in the postseason?
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this team didn’t do much during the off-season. They had a couple of draft picks and shuffled things around slightly, but Utah is pretty much the same. Last season was one in which the Jazz faced some adversity. Mike Conley wasn’t the guy they thought they were getting early on, Bojan Bogdanovic disappeared when they needed him most, and there was an uproar of in-house fighting surrounding Covid-19 issues. All of that seems to be in the past and the Jazz are betting everything will run much more smoothly this time around. Utah was unquestionably talented enough to be a top seed in last year’s playoffs and their betting they can do it again. I think the continuity the roster has will be very helpful and could lead to them being a very tough opponent for anyone.
The team added Derrick Favors back into the fold, which seemed a bit odd. He is being limited to playing the backup center and I don’t necessarily like that for Favors. He’s put up solid numbers throughout his career and deserves to be a starter in my opinion. Derrick won’t be taking Rudy’s job since Gobert just inked a massive contract and I think this is a signing Derrick will live to regret. For Utah, it’s great. They’ve got one of, if not the best, backup center in the entire league. The other additions the team made were in the draft. Utah used their first-round pick on Kansas Jayhawk center Udoka Azubuike and their second-round selection on Elijah Hughes. Azubuike is an old school big who will hand around the rim on both ends. He has talent and has improved from year to year. He doesn’t seem like much more than a backup big longterm, though. Hughes won’t see much playing time this year, but that’s not what this pick was about. The wings Utah has on their roster are starting to get older and will need to be replaced in a year or two. If Elijah can learn the tricks of the trade from Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles, he could be a very solid wing in the league.
Utah really believes in themselves and I am inclined to do so as well. If things would have gone their way last season, people would be favoring them the way they do Denver. This is a playoff team. What seed they get and how they postseason shapes out is the unknown, but getting there is almost certainly a lock.