Monday, 24 Jun 2024

2020-21 Season Preview: Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell’s trajectory in the NBA has been nothing short of remarkable since his impressive rookie season in 2017-18. However, the Utah Jazz’s 2019-20 season ended on a sour note when they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. Despite the disappointment, Mitchell’s duel with Jamal Murray captivated basketball fans with its intensity and high-scoring performances. The loss raised questions about potential chemistry issues between Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, especially after the two became the first NBA players to test positive for COVID-19.

Moving forward, the Jazz have made some notable moves in the offseason. They drafted Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes while prioritizing consistency by re-signing key players such as Jordan Clarkson and Derrick Favors. Mitchell also received a five-year contract extension, solidifying his role as the team’s star player.

However, there are areas where the Jazz still need improvement. Their overall perimeter defense remains a concern, as highlighted by the Nuggets’ offensive exploits in the playoffs. Utah also lacks depth on the bench, particularly at the point guard position. Addressing these issues could help the team compete against the talented Western Conference.

Potential Starting Five:

  • Mike Conley: Needs a better start this season after struggling early in his first year with the Jazz.
  • Donovan Mitchell: Led the league in scoring during the postseason, showcasing his offensive prowess.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic: Trending toward a healthy return after a wrist surgery cut short his first season with the Jazz.
  • Royce O’Neale: Still motivated by the heartbreaking loss to the Nuggets in the playoffs.
  • Rudy Gobert: The former two-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year is eager to have his best season yet.
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Key Reserves:

  • Jordan Clarkson: Provides instant offense off the bench and can alleviate depth problems at the point guard spot.
  • Joe Ingles: Will contribute to havoc on the court, especially with Derrick Favors running the pick-and-roll in the second unit.
  • Derrick Favors: Expected to bolster Utah’s second-unit defense at the rim based on his performance with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Season Prediction

While the return of a healthy Bogdanovic is a positive, the Jazz may face challenges keeping up with the top contenders in the competitive Western Conference. Their lack of firepower compared to teams like the Lakers, Nuggets, and Clippers could limit their postseason success. Additionally, how the team handles negotiations for a new deal with Gobert will determine if they are committed to building a future around him and Mitchell.

Predicted finish: 40-32.


Note: This article was written by Michael C. Wright, a senior writer for NBA.com. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.