If it weren’t for Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors, there would have been a SLIGHT chance for the Jazz to have a sneak run to the NBA Finals. Utah finished the season 51-31 and to think that they only played a small percentage of games with their original starting 5 of George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. GM Dennis Lindsey has built this team from the ground up around Hayward and has done a really nice job in building this team. Utah has length, shooting, rebounding, and the defensive prowess to seriously contend in the Western Conference if it weren’t for the United States Olympic Team playing in the Bay Area. That is the only knock on the Jazz is that they do not have the firepower to keep up with the Running Guns of the Wild Wild West.
I don’t know why most people were surprised that Utah kept pace and eventually won the series against the Clippers even with The Stifle Tower (Rudy Gobert) being injured or in foul trouble. The Jazz are a legit team and they will be for years to come as long as they can keep Gordon Hayward in Salt Lake City. Utah literally has 10-12 guys that could see minutes on ANY NBA team because they all bring something to the table and they do not have any guys that take up unnecessary floor and cap space. Well, maybe Alec Burks. Their 2nd round series sweep at the hands of the U.S. Olympic team is an outlier. The way this team is built, there are not many teams that will be able to sweep them in a 7 game series. As long as Hayward stays and this core continues to grow, specifically Rodney Hood and Gobert, watch out for this team to possibly push 60+ wins.
Now for the future, it is very simple. Gordon Hayward stays, this is a formidable team for years to come, he leaves, then they are a fringe playoff team. The 2 key free agents outside of Hayward are George Hill and Joe Ingles. If George Hill commands too much money, then Utah should let him walk because they have an up and coming point in Dante Exum who is still only 21 years old and will have a decent backup in Shelvin Mack. Utah should strongly consider resigning Joe Ingles who will be due a large raise, but his salary bracket won’t be as high since he is almost 30 years old. They need his defense, shooting, and passing off of the bench to go along with Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw. If Gordon Hayward stays, which he most likely will, and their core can stay intact and healthy for most of the 82-game regular season, then expect the Jazz to be an uptick better than they were this year in 2017-18.
Written By: Nyck Young