It would appear that every team in the NBA is far behind the Golden State Warriors, but if the Utah Jazz can accomplish these three feats, they could potentially have a chance to compete with them next season.
Although it’s still far from over, so far the 2017 NBA Finals and for the most part the 2017 NBA Playoffs as a whole, have been somewhat disappointing. That isn’t to say there haven’t been some exhilarating series along the way – of course Utah Jazz vs. LA Clippers is the first to come to mind along with some others – but the fact that both Finals participants were so predictable from the onset has been a bit of a let down to say the least.
And barring some absolute miracle performances from LeBron James and some major improvements from his teammates, most notably Kyrie Irving, it would appear that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in deep trouble. Unless the Cavs produce another unforeseen comeback, it looks as if the Golden State Warriors will cruise to an NBA Championship, just as many fans predicted before the season got underway.
Whether that truly comes to fruition or not, though, it’s still certain that Golden State is the standard of excellence in the Western Conference and more than likely in the entire league. With that being the case, if teams in the West hope to even have a shot of qualifying for the NBA Finals, let alone winning a championship, they’ll have to find a way to compete with and ultimately defeat the Warriors.
The Utah Jazz had their shot to match-up against them this season in the second round of postseason action and unfortunately, much like every team that has faced them in the playoffs so far, they failed to win a game. Although many had predicted that Utah’s personnel could give Golden State some issues, the fact that they were so severely banged up, were without their starting point guard and continually got off to slow starts ended up being their undoing.
That’s not to say that if the Jazz hadn’t had to deal with those issues, they would have gone on to defeat the Warriors, because I in no way believe that to be the case. Golden State is so star-studded and so spectacular, that even at full-strength, Utah’s current roster would not have been able to keep up.
However, despite that evident gap between the two teams, the Jazz are closer to competing than some people might think. Surprisingly enough, up to this point they have held Golden State to the smallest average margin of victory of any team they’ve faced. Sure, it was an enormous 15-point differential across the four games showing just how far away Utah is, but hey, at least it’s something.
The point is, while the Jazz aren’t in the same galaxy as the Warriors, at least they’re in the same universe. And if they hope to make the jump to hyperspace and get to a point where they can actually put up a fight against an overloaded Golden State team, then, operating under the assumption that the Jazz do indeed retain Gordon Hayward next season, these are the three things that will have to happen between now and the start of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.