Will the 2021-22 Utah Jazz team have the power to pull off a 60-win season?
The full schedule is out. The Utah Jazz roster looks roughly 95 percent complete. And those two facts alone call for prediction time.
First, let’s consider that seven returning regulars, including the entire starting lineup, appear ready to roll with the 2021-22 Jazz bunch. And those seven — Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale — are the top seven scorers from a collection that finished atop the NBA standings with a 52-20 mark.
Several promising youngsters from last season’s group are on tap as well. Yes, guys like Trent Forrest and Udoka Azubuike could be in line for increased playing time after performing admirably this month in Summer League.
However, healthy competition for minutes ought to be prevalent in Salt Lake City due to the offseason acquisitions of Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, and Eric Paschall.
Deep talent aside, the Jazz’s regular-season slate ranks as the easiest in the NBA, according to the Positive Residual formula.
Sure, some would argue that the escalating number of superpowers dramatically decreases Utah’s chances of repeating as regular-season kings.
On the other hand, though, the world only has room for so many A-list weapons at a time. Yes, it seems the basketball gods always make sure of that. Therefore, with so many premier players joining forces across only a handful of franchises, one might expect the league’s weakest foes to be even a touch punier this go-round, meaning penciled-in W’s may become a bit easier.
Moreover, despite Utah’s unforeseen regular-season dominance in 2020-21, folks are likely to overlook the Jazz once again in light of their sudden disappearing act in the playoffs. No doubt that should aid in squeaking out a couple of sure-to-be-called “upsets” over the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
Foretelling another slight Utah Jazz upswing
Without delving into the postseason woes, let’s talk briefly about Quin Snyder’s growth and consistency as the 54-year-old Duke basketball alum enters his eighth season as Utah Jazz maestro.
Snyder has orchestrated winning records five years in a row.
Meanwhile, Utah has seen a year-to-year gain the past three regular seasons, improving its win percentage from 58.5 percent in 2017-18 to the most recent 72.2 percent. Crunching the numbers, the Jazz averaged an annual 4.6 point jump in win percentage in this span. So adding 4.6 to 72.2, we get 76.8 percent.
Now, because most of the above reasoning supports the notion that Utah possesses all the necessary ingredients to raise the bar again, the forecast here is that Snyder’s next gang will prevail in almost 75 percent of its outings during the regular season.
The predicted Jazz record? 60-22.
There’s no guarantee that 60 dubs would secure a No. 1 seed from the loaded Western Conference. But such a feat would mark the franchise’s fourth 60-victory regular season in history and its first this century.
As for the Utah Jazz’s 2022 playoff prophecy, well, we better leave that discussion for another time.