The Utah Jazz intentionally made their team worse during the offseason, but given the young talent they have, I believe it was the right move by management. The team is now without Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, meaning Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will be the core for this team going forward.
They may not have much experience, but the future appears bright for each of these players, indicating the Jazz are moving in the right direction.
It will obviously take some time for the new starters to get acquainted to their role and Burke is just a rookie, meaning this team could be brutally bad early on. The good news, however, is that the Jazz don’t intend to win now, and having a bad season will benefit the team given the anticipated talent entering the next NBA draft.
The progression of the players is important however, and if this team is winning games consistently at the end of the season, they could become a legitimate contender sooner than expected.
The Jazz play in the same division as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, two teams that made the playoffs last season and will be looking to do the same this year. The season will be long for the Jazz as they must play the Thunder and Nuggets a total of eight times, and they will also have a tough time competing with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trailblazers, the two other teams in the Northwest Division.
Not only will the starting five for the Jazz struggle on the court at times, but with one of the weakest benches in the league, the Jazz will have a hard time competing against the majority of teams. The bright spot for the Jazz and their fans will be the play of Hayward, who averaged nearly 17 points per game last season and will likely be the team’s biggest scoring threat this season.
Aside from Hayward, the offense has no other proven scorers as four of the team’s five leading scorers from last season are on a new team, and the most experienced player out of the core group besides Hayward is Favors, who averaged just nine points per game last season.
The Jazz could be a fun team to watch simply to imagine how good they could be in the future, but as for this season, things will be rough, and they may even finish with the worst record in the league if players don’t improve as the season goes on. For this reason, I will be rather conservative in my estimation, but a prediction of 22-60 is reasonable as it will place them among the worst teams in the league, which is the level they will likely play at.