Record: 51 – 31 (5th in the West)
Season Ended: Swept by the Warriors in the 2nd Round
Tony Bradley (C), Donovan Mitchell (SG)
Jonas Jerebko (PF/C), Thabo Sefalosha (SG/SF), Ekpe Udoh (PF/C)
Ricky Rubio (PG)
Gordon Hayward (SG/SF), Boris Diaw (PF/C), George Hill (PG)
Projected Starters (Last year averages)
PG: Ricky Rubio (11 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast)
SG: Rodney Hood (13 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast)
SF: Joe Ingles (7 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast)
PF: Derrick Favors (10 pts, 6 reb, 1 ast)
C: Rudy Gobert (14 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk)
Donovan Mitchell (SG), Joe Johnson (SG/SF), Jonas Jerebko (PF/C), Ekpe Udoh (PF/C)
Major Story lines
Gordon Hayward Leaves – The biggest story of the offseason was definitely the departure of the team’s leading scorer Gordon Hayward. Fans and the players (most vocally Rudy Gobert) alike were obviously disappointed by the move and the team will now look to the supporting cast to step up. Gobert has been a beast in the preseason as he looks to take on more of a role as a scorer this season as the face of the team. The question will be if Ingles and Hood can make up for Godon Hayward’s 22 missed points.
Donovan Mitchell a Steal – Hood and Ingles are not alone in trying to replace that production. Rookie Donovan Mitchell who became an immediate fan favorite during the new Utah Summer League will also be a piece to that puzzle. Mitchell is at worst a 3 and D specialist and at best a strong 2-way contributor. I expect that he’ll be the X factor for this team and could be what gets them over the playoff hump.
Mike Predictions (42 – 40) (9th in the West)
- Jazz just miss the Playoffs – In my initial projections I had the Jazz in the playoffs but I decided to swap them and the Nuggets when looking at it again. I love the Jazz and think that they will finish about .500 but think that they are the 1st casualty of the ridiculousness that is the Western Conference. Remember that I have the Thunder and Blazers as the 2 and 3 seed and they are in the same division as the Jazz.
- Rudy Gobert is an All-Star – I have mentioned Gobert being motivated to step up on the offensive end and if he gets close to 20 ppg and keeps his rebounding and blocked shots up I think he’ll be voted in by the coaches. Ricky Rubio lobbing the ball to him will benefit him greatly and as a glass cleaner he’ll continue to get put-back opportunities as well.
- Jazz beat the Celtics in Utah – Emotions will be high for Gordo’s return to Utah and I greatly expect that the Jazz will come to play. Gobert could have a 30-20 game in this one and Hood will likely take the matchup personally as well.
Josh Predictions (45-38) (7th in the West)
- Jazz outperform expectations – Finishing 7th in your conference doesn’t sound like excessively high expectations. But with their only All Star gone in the offseason, I don’t think people are expecting much from Utah this season. However, I think Rodney Hood can develop into a similar style of play as Hayward. Ricky Rubio running the point will make everyone else on the court better just by nature. Rudy Gobert down low makes driving to the basket terrifying for any opposing team. And Donovan Mitchell could be the surprise steal of the draft. Overall I think they have the pieces to maintain some of their growth from last season and still be competitive in the conference.
- Alec Burks traded – Mitchell is undersized for the 2-guard but he seems to play better off the ball. Having him come off the bench behind Hood pushes Burks further down the depth chart. Burks averaged 13+ PPG from 2013-2015, before regressing last year. I still think he has a lot of trade value though and will be sought after by plenty of other teams.