Utah Jazz: One area of improvement for every player on the roster

Utah Jazz (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /
1 of 4
Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz enter the 2021-22 NBA season with a plentifully stacked cupboard. With the additions of Rudy Gay, Eric Paschall and Hassan Whiteside, this team features improved positional versatility and better general depth than last year’s NBA-leading 52-20 squad.

Optimism abounds in Salt Lake City, as the Jazz figure to be in the mix for championship contention once again. In spite of the key marginal additions mentioned above, this team looks relatively similar to last year’s outfit. As such, internal improvement could be a meaningful avenue to an overall improved team performance in 2021-22.

Here’s one area that every member of the Utah Jazz should aim to improve leading into next season.

Udoka Azubuike: Fouling 

In all likelihood, the addition of Hassan Whiteside portends Azubuike’s status as a benchwarmer for the second consecutive season. Such is life for prospects on NBA contenders.

Nonetheless, the Utah Jazz will be in need of his services should Whiteside find himself injured, and Azubuike should have an opportunity to challenge the veteran for backup 5 minutes in practice throughout the season.

Azubuike is an athletic marvel with strong shot-blocking and rim-running instincts. However, his 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes last season hint at a lack of discipline that could limit his (already limited) opportunities. He’ll need to learn to defend without fouling in order to advance his NBA career.

Bojan Bogdanovic: Playmaking

We know the Bogey man strikes fear in the hearts of opponents with his ability to score the ball. Last season, he did so to the tune of 17.0 points per game on a tidy, efficient 58.8% True Shooting (TS%). That figure actually marked a downward swing for Bogdanovic, who’d posted 60.3% and 61.3% accuracy by the same measure in his previous two seasons.

Efficient scoring always has value, but defenses have an even more difficult time accounting for a player who is a dual threat to create shots for his teammates. Bogdanovic’s 1.9 assists per game last season reflect a player who is uninterested in doing so.

If Bogdanovic can nudge that figure in an upward direction, it should only serve to diversify the Utah Jazz’s attack.

Jarrell Brantley: Consistency 

Like Azubuike, Brantley is unlikely to crack Quin Snyder’s regular rotation as a raw 24-year-old on a contending team. Still, Brantley should get plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills for Utah Jazz G-League affiliate Salt Lake City Stars. It’s imperative that he make the most of those opportunities.

Over the course of the last full G League season, Brantley was generally great for the Stars, but could have stood to remain aggressive in a bid to score consistently. Viewing his game logs from that season reflects considerable unpredictability: a 26 point game here, an 8 point game there, and so forth.

A 6’5, 250 pound athletic freak, Brantley is one of the more intriguing long-term prospects on the Utah Jazz roster. He needs to maximize every opportunity he can to prove exactly that.