The Utah Jazz are coming off a pretty successful season. Utah finished with a record of 48-34, which was good enough to secure the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Jazz met up with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs last season. Utah pulled off the series upset in six games. The Jazz then went on to play the Houston Rockets, where they lost in five games.
Utah is in the Western Conference, which saw a three-win difference between the ninth seed and the third seed. The Jazz were in the middle of that close finish. Utah had a lot of players step up last season and they will need that to continue if they want to make it back to the postseason.
The Jazz did not do much in the offseason. Overall, they seem to have decided to stick with last season’s core to lead them back to the playoffs. I believe that this is a risky move as multiple teams made moves to improve upon last season. The Jazz will look for their core to get even better to keep up.
Ricky Rubio will start at Point Guard for the Jazz. Rubio averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game last season. He played a big part in the Jazz’s success. His court vision really helps open up the floor for players to get open and get good looks. He is not the most consistent scorer, but he has the ability to go off.
Dante Exum and Raul Neto should come in off the bench at the Point Guard spot. Exum averaged 8.1 points and 3.1 assists in 14 appearances last season. Neto averaged 4.5 points per game in 41 appearances. Both players should see some time throughout this season. Exum is the better option in my opinion though.
The Jazz have Thabo Sefolosha and Alec Burks to come in at the Shooting Guard spot off the bench. Burks played in 64 games last season and averaged 7.7 points per game. Sefolosha averaged 8.2 points per game and 4.2 rebounds in 38 appearances. Like the bench Point Guards, both players should see plenty of time.
Utah drafted Shooting Guard Grayson Allen in the first round of this year’s draft. Allen has been a staple part of Duke for the last couple seasons. He was a good leader and a constant contributor on the roster. I do not expect him to get a lot of minutes this season, but if he can develop his game to the NBA, he could be a solid roster player in future years.
Overall, the Jazz have a strong core of Guards. I believe that Rubio and Mitchell create a strong starting duo, especially if Mitchell continues to develop his game. The depth on this Guard core is really strong as well. With a lot of options to rotate through as players struggle or get hot, the Jazz should be able to match up well with most Guard cores in the league.
Joe Ingles will start at Small Forward for Utah. Ingles started 81 of 82 games last season. He averaged 11.5 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. Ingles is a real solid role player in the starting lineup. He fills in a nice support role for the rest of the players around him.
The Jazz’s starting Power Forward is Derrick Favors. Favors averaged 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season. He is really solid on the defensive side of the ball as well. Like Ingles, Favors is a good support player on the roster.
Utah has Jae Crowder, who will likely fill in at a sixth man role this season. Crowder came over in a trade with the Cavaliers last season. He averaged 11.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game with Utah last season. He should be a really good player off the bench for Utah. Crowder can fill in both at Small Forward and Power Forward.
Royce O’Neale and Ekpe Udoh should be coming off the bench at the Forward spots as well. O’Neale averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season. Udoh averaged 2.6 points per game last season. I expect similar roles from both players this season as well.
Utah also picked up Tyler Cavanaugh in free agency this offseason. Cavanaugh was with the Atlanta Hawks last season. He averaged 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game last season. He probably will not see too much time unless injuries or struggles set in.
The Forward core for the Jazz is not as good as their Guards, but they still have a solid lineup. The Forwards are set up more as a supporting cast. I believe that they should benefit the team, but I do not expect them to carry the roster.
Rudy Gobert will start at Center for the Jazz. Gobert won Defensive Player of the Year last season. He averaged 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. Gobert is a lethal defender and can help contribute offensively as well. He is a key player on this roster.
The Jazz also have Tony Bradley as a Center on the roster. Bradley did not play much last season but could earn an increase in minutes this season.
This Jazz roster is definitely strong with its starters and has some solid depth throughout the lineup. I believe that this could be a playoff team, but I do not see them going much further than the second round. Utah is stuck in the Eastern Conference, which is extremely competitive.
BetOnline has Utah listed at a win total of 49 ½ wins. The Jazz would need two more wins than last season to beat that total, which I do not see happening. Utah has a playoff roster in my opinion, but I do not believe they are a top seeded team. The best bet for the Jazz is under the win total.