Lately the Utah Jazz have received praise – not just from the local writers who may be biased, but from experts across the nation
In what is shaping up to be the most anticipated season in Utah Jazz history, fans and media have high praise for the Utah Jazz. After making it to the playoffs for the first time in five years, and showcasing an All-Star for the first time in six years, the Jazz earned the league’s respect in 2017. But then their star forward Gordon Hayward left in free agency.
Since then the Jazz have had several ups and downs, but have bounced back nicely from losing their star. They are arguably better off now than they would be with Hayward.
The Jazz front office decided to retool their roster, upgrading several positions on an already respectable 50-win team. Because of these upgrades, several have pegged the Jazz as contenders since the early summer. The whole country has been hyping up the Jazz all summer long, and that only continued this past week.
While the Sports Illustrated Top 100 player rankings was old news, a week and a half later ESPN released their Top 100 player rankings, which also favored the Jazz. As many of you know, the Jazz were the only team to place five players in the top 70 in both websites’ rankings.
Three days later, Basketball Insiders did their annual preview of the Utah Jazz, where they received several compliments. They had five writers come together and predict how the Jazz would finish in the Northwest Division. Three picked Utah to win the division, and the others had the Jazz finishing 2nd in the division.
Some notable quotes, courtesy of basketballinsiders.com:
“Gobert is the quintessential example of what would make a defense-first player a franchise player”
“if the Jazz stay health[y], homecourt and a deep playoff run isn’t out of the question, in fact it should almost be expected”
“Defense wins championships as they say. For the last several years, with a healthy Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have boasted a championship-level defense. This season, it should be more of the same.”
That same day (Thursday), the Detroit Bad Boys blog of SB Nation published an article, titled “Hot Take: The Utah Jazz, your 2020 NBA Champions“. Their reasoning for such a bold statement was the hand-in-glove fit that Mike Conley will be for this team, as well as the offense catching up with the elite defense.
Early the next morning, The Ringer picked the eight NBA teams they consider to be contenders, and the Jazz were one of them. They again gave the common stickler most people have with the Jazz, that they don’t posses a top 5 or top 10 player, but still counted the Jazz as a team with a chance to win it all.
Dan Devine wrote: “Superstars playing musical chairs got more attention this summer, but landing Conley, Bogdanovic—as well as quality backup center Ed Davis, and versatile forward Jeff Green—might quietly be good enough to give teams with more star power fits in a series”.
Personally I love seeing two or three stars get shut down by a team of lesser players on fire. The Spurs did it to LeBron James in the 2014 NBA Finals, and the Dallas Mavericks also won a championship over LeBron in 2011. The fact that the Jazz have a chance to be one of those teams excites me!
That same day the Detroit Bad Boys raved again (from a different writer) about the Utah Jazz, this time considering Donovan Mitchell to be an MVP candidate for this upcoming season. I’m impressed their site wrote articles centered on the Jazz twice in the same week! Are we sure they are really Pistons fans?
To top it all off for the week, Bleacher Report published their latest NBA Power Rankings. Although they had the Los Angeles Clippers reigning at the top, the Utah Jazz placed third! In the entire league!
Since I first started reading Bleacher Report power rankings as a 7th grader, this is by far the highest I’ve ever seen the Jazz ranked among the NBA.
For those concerned about all the local hype, you can rest assured that it isn’t just Jazz fans with high expectations for this year – it’s fans, media, and players that are all excited. All eyes across the nation expect the Utah Jazz to make a deep playoff run and maybe even a Finals trip this year.
As media day kicked off yesterday, players expressed how excited they are for this season. Now that training camp has started and the NBA season is around the corner, it’s time to sit back and watch how this Jazz team performs against the best of the best. Jazz basketball is almost back!