I enjoy jazz music. Am I a connoisseur? No, so if I misrepresent the genre, don’t throw a hissy fit. With that said, jazz is so smooth to me. I especially love that it is primarily based on improvisation.
Very cool. So, it’s always funny to me that the Utah Jazz have been such a structured offensive team for so long. Except for a couple of Deron Williams years and the first four years of John Stockton, the Jazz have consistently been in the bottom third of the league for offensive pace. Conversely, they have been one of the more efficient offensive teams over the past 25 years and have routinely ranked high in offensive rating. Now that Gordon Hayward is gone and Ricky Rubio is in, will there be more improv in Utah this season? Will our own Viz throw internet tomatoes at me for my preview of his beloved Jazz?
2016 record: 51-31
- Donovan Mitchell via draft
- Ricky Rubio via trade
- Jonas Jerebko via free agency
- Thabo Sefolosha via free agency
- Ekpe Udoh via free agency
This is still a playoff team, but I have some doubts about whether this could be a 50-win team. Losing a player of Hayward’s caliber is going to hurt. Who can create offense outside the structure of the offense? Already, the team has suffered injuries to both Dante Exum and Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors is no bastion of health. How will Ricky Rubio fit in? Will Quin Snyder push the pace to get more early offense? There are questions, y’all. With all that said, there is talent and Snyder is a good coach, so the team will be competitive. Just how much is the question.
PG – It’s all about the J for Rubio. He shot 40% from the field for the first time in his career. From three-land, he shot 30%. The PnR with Rudy Gobert is going to be a staple and could be deadly, but you have to imagine that teams will just sag down and make Rubio shoot the J. I do have confidence in Snyder’s ability to design offensive sets with this in mind, though. The main thing for me is the pace at which the Jazz are going to play. They were dead-last and I do think they push the pace a little more this year. Rubio should be a nightly double-dub threat, grab around four boards, and pilfer close to two a game. He’ll be fine in Utah. Dante Exum was slated to backup Rubio, but unfortunately, he separated his left shoulder and is going to miss most of the season. Raul Neto will now be the primary backup. He’s a good shooter (career 38% from three-land), has been in the Utah system for two years, and could get some steals. Donovan Mitchell could also see some time at point.
SG – Rodney Hood is a popular come back candidate, as he shoots 36% from three-land and is expected to be an integral piece of the offense. Unfortunately, he injured his neck in the preseason. While it doesn’t sound serious, Hood missed 23 games last season and 32 game his rookie year. Hood doesn’t contribute much in the ancillary categories, but he’d get plenty of shot opportunities. He averaged 11.3 and 12.3 the past two years with that number expected to increase with the departure of Hayward. Donovan Mitchell is really good. The rookie balled out in Summer League and has continued the impressive play in the preseason. He plays really good defense, can shoot from outside, break people down off the dribble, and is tough as nails. If given the minutes, he could potentially challenge for ROY honors. He’s that good. Alec Burks. Often hyped, he’s never been able to put it together. Injuries have been a factor, but he’s just been inconsistent. He shoots well from the outside and, with the injury to Exum, could find some more minutes.
SF – And your replacement for Hayward is……….drum roll please……Joe Ingles.
Ok, that wasn’t fair. Ingles is a good player. He shoots 40% from three-land, will grab some boards, dish out a few dimes, and will get his pilfer on. He’s not flashy or sexy, but his hoops IQ is high. Joe Johnson and Thabo Sefolosha will back up Ingles. Snyder called Johnson a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate. Uh…..no. This is what I wrote about Johnson in my player rankings:
When it’s all said and done, Joe Johnson is going to go down in NBA history as the greatest anonymous non-superstar. Hmm, I don’t even know if that makes sense to me, but hear me out. First, the name. Joe Johnson. Seriously? It doesn’t get more generic than that. Second, there was a stretch in his career when he was really good. Like really, really good. But he was never a superstar, yet he got paid like one. Did you know that JJ was an All-Star for six straight seasons? Now, this will be his 18th year in the league. Only 17 players have played in more NBA seasons. Do you think future generations will ever speak about Joe Johnson? Shit, we don’t even talk about him now! Anyways, I just wanted to give props to Joe.
He can still shoot (41% from three-land last season), grab a couple of boards, and dish out a dime or two here. Can’t imagine him getting too many minutes, though. Low-20s. Sefolosha is a decent player. Can shoot the three (34%), grab boards, and get his pilfer on. If Johnson ain’t getting many minutes, where do you think that leaves Thabo?
PF – Derrick Favors is the starter. And it looks like he’s healthy! I think Viz just jizzed in his pants. Or maybe he’s been jizzing all preseason. Anyways, when healthy, Favors is a beast down low. 16 and 8 with a steal and 1.5 blocks is what he’ll probably put up. And he won’t kill you in FT% (70%). Just know that the injury risk is high. Jonas Jerebko is the backup. He can board and shoot the three (35%). If Favors goes down, he could be of some value.
C – Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! Gobert is a beast. Sky-high FG%, nightly double-dub, and an insane number of blocks. FT% is in the 60s, but he is so dominant in the other categories that it doesn’t really matter. Ekpe Udoh is the backup. He’s been playing in Europe the past two years. He’s only here to give Gobert a break.