Utah Jazz: The summer fanfare is over, but the new team will be worth the wait

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 09: Royce O'Neale (L) and Georges Niang (R) of the Utah Jazz pose together after a game at NBA Summer League on July 09, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 09: Royce O'Neale (L) and Georges Niang (R) of the Utah Jazz pose together after a game at NBA Summer League on July 09, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

The summer excitement is likely over for the Utah Jazz. But as we head into the offseason’s slowest stretch, Jazz fans can take heart in anticipating a thrilling season ahead.

The best thing about the NBA is that despite there being a significant period of time with no meaningful games played between the end of the season and the start of a new season, there really is no offseason. What I mean is, in a league so full of drama, unexpected trades, unforeseen player decisions and several other headline-grabbing tidbits, the excitement really carries on all summer long.

It’s one of the most defining aspects of the NBA and something that, whether it’s viewed as the favorite or not, certainly distinguishes it from the nation’s other professional sports leagues. Love it or hate it, even in the dead of the summer, you can never predict when some earth-shattering bit of news might drop and send a ripple effect throughout The Association.

That said, there’s no denying that there is a definite slow period in the NBA yearly cycle. Following the exhilarating NBA Finals, basketball fans are treated almost immediately to the NBA Draft. Shortly after that comes the wild and crazy NBA Free Agency period, which perhaps was as unpredictable as ever this summer. True, free agents will still be signed here and there, but all of the major dominoes have long since fallen.

Sprinkled in during the exciting first week of free agency comes Summer League, which is a nice display of summer hoops, albeit a far cry from the joy of the regular season. Nevertheless, it definitely helps fill a basketball void that’s difficult to satiate otherwise.

But now with the Memphis Grizzlies winning the Summer League Championship (thanks largely to Summer League MVP Brandon Clarke who they were able to acquire thanks to the Utah Jazz sending them their first-round pick in the Mike Conley trade), free agency fizzling out, and all meaningful moments of the 2018-19 season well behind us (save perhaps some unexpected blips of news here and there in the coming months), the fanfare of the NBA summer has largely dissipated.

That’s not to say it wasn’t exciting while it lasted. Not by a long shot. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up on the LA Clippers. Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kevin Durant, who we likely won’t see next season as he recovers from injury, teamed up with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Kemba Walker went to Boston, Jimmy Butler to Miami and D’Angelo Russell to Golden State while Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul shockingly switched teams with the former going to Houston and the latter going to Oklahoma City (at least for now).

But while those big-name stars got a lot of the attention, the Utah Jazz also had themselves a fine offseason. And while they may not have received the praise of some other teams, they’ve definitely had major national media members gawking at the team they were able to put together. Aside from their biggest splash of trading for Mike Conley, the Jazz added one of their best ever free agent signings in Bojan Bogdanovic as well as solid contributors in Ed Davis and Jeff Green, and a high-potential young talent in Emmanuel Mudiay.

Each of those players figures to play an important role in the upcoming season be it as a starter, promising depth, or simply to challenge and push the guys ahead of them on the depth chart.

As exciting as the start of filling out the roster was, the Jazz wrapped it up in rather quiet, conservative fashion. They signed their own former second-round draft pick Nigel Williams-Goss who had been playing overseas, the largely unknown (I admittedly had never heard of him) Frenchman William Howard, who had been playing overseas, and the lowest picked player of their second-round selections from this year’s draft – Miye Oni.

If you find yourself underwhelmed about any of those three additions, it would be wise to recall that the Jazz have brought in no-name players before that have bloomed into something special. Maybe you haven’t heard of them before, but the two that first come to my mind are Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale.

Sarcasm aside, it would be wise to not overlook any of the three guys at the end of the roster. Sure, they may very well just provide insurance or depth and rarely (if ever) find their way off the bench this season. But it’s also unwise to count out Dennis Lindsey and the development program of the Utah Jazz. They’ve struck gold in a dirt pile several times before.

But with the excitement and fanfare of summer largely over, Utah Jazz fans now face the daunting two-and-a-half month dreariness leading up to the start of the NBA season. Sure, we’ll get a few exciting tidbits such as the NBA schedule being released, camp signings and the start of training camp. Players like Andre Iguodala, Chris Paul or a grizzled vet like Joe Johnson, who’s currently tearing up the BIG3, might yet find a new home in the NBA, but other than that, the Utah faithful will largely be facing a calm before the storm for the next few months.

But what a storm it might be.

The Utah Jazz have improved their roster, shored up their weaknesses and bettered their chances of competing in a big way. The roster is littered with shooting prowess. Their depth is among the best in the Western Conference. Their stout defensive reputation still holds firm.

While a lot is being made of all the dynamic duos in the league – AD and LeBron, PG and the Klaw, Kyrie and KD, Brodie and the Beard, and so on and so forth, the Utah Jazz have a stunning Big 3 with Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and that’s not even mentioning Bojan Bogdanovic who proved last season he’s capable of leading a team to the playoffs as its leading scorer.

The Jazz don’t have the best duo in the NBA – we all know that – but they might just have the most well-rounded starting five with versatility to commence the game with a number of different impact players along the four aforementioned guys by starting any one of either Ingles, O’Neale, Green or even Davis if the matchup is just right.

So, while Jazz die-hards are facing a dreary time with the excitement of summer past and the long, exhausting haul of a wait until the start of the regular season upon us, I have a feeling that this new-look roster is going to be one of the best that Salt Lake City has ever seen. Come October, the Jazz may very well send shockwaves through the Beehive State and the entire NBA.

Because they are built expertly to make some noise and challenge any team in the league for a championship.

Next. Utah Jazz: Nigel Williams-Goss is back after inking three-year deal. dark

In other words, take heart, Jazz fans. We may be entering the slow stretch of Utah Jazz news. But you can take comfort in knowing one thing for certain as you cross off the days on the calendar until October.

This prolific 2019-20 Utah Jazz team is going to be worth the wait.