Utah Jazz: Stacked backcourt might be NBA’s best

Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Necessary pieces are falling into place to power the Utah Jazz’s perimeter.

With news this weekend of Mike Conley’s anticipated return in free agency — reported three-year deal worth $60 million — it seems the Utah Jazz will boast one of the NBA’s premier casts of backcourt talents next season.

And there’s a reasonable chance that the group in Salt Lake City outright outshines all others in the league.

Altogether, barring any unexpected offseason moves, the perimeter weapons should constitute the team’s No. 1 strength. Together, their prowess may force eighth-year Jazz head coach Quin Snyder to implement three-guard lineups regularly.

Proven Utah Jazz production plus one champion

Presumptive backcourt starters Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley are reigning All-Stars. Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the 2020-21 Sixth Man of the Year race.

Now, by adding Baylor national champ Jared Butler via a slick steal at Thursday’s NBA Draft, Utah ought to have two promising young guards at its disposal. The other is a projected second-year Jazz reserve in Trent Forrest, who often looked like a fast learner while filling in when Mitchell and Conley sat out the homestretch of the regular season.

In helping the Jazzmen to the league’s best 2020-21 record (52-20) and record-breaking 3-point party (16.7 makes per outing), Mitchell, Conley, Clarkson, and Ingles combined to score more than 4,000 points while splashing 707 shots from downtown at a 39.3 percent clip.

Sure, the collection showed room for improvement on defense, particularly during its season-ending Western Conference Semifinals series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Fortunately, Butler should provide a boost there, considering he led the national champs with 2.0 steals per game.

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Factoring in continuity, this six-deep crew of Jazz guards, ranging in age from 20 to 33, will be a challenge for any other backcourt to top.