Utah Jazz: 2021-2022 Western Conference Preview

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Tier 2: Who could be a threat to make a move on the Utah Jazz this year?

Portland Trail Blazers

This is assuming that Damian Lillard stays with the team the whole season. The Blazers had a quiet off-season, in terms of adding and subtracting players, until they just made a move to grab Larry Nance Jr. Even then, they still didn’t make a splashy move this offseason or shake things up as many expected.

This is a really solid roster still with Lillard, McCollum, Powell, Covington, Nance, and Nurkic, among others. If Powell and McCollum can take the pressure off of Lillard some, this could be a very good regular season team, and I expect that they will. On top of that, this front office is desperate to keep Lillard and will make whatever moves they need to in order to compete this year. They should be a middle-of-the-pack team in the West with the upside to move into the top tier of the standings behind a great Lillard season.

Golden State Warriors

This is the team with the greatest chance to jump into the top tier and be able to contend for the Western Conference crown. Stephen Curry carried the Golden State Warriors throughout last season by himself and they still almost made the playoffs. They added two lottery picks in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody and they are getting Klay Thompson back from injury. The reason they are not in a higher tier is because of the amount of time it may take for Klay Thompson to get himself going again and we are not entirely sure how good he will be coming back from an ACL and Achilles tear. Give this team time to round into form.

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas is another team that could be all over the place due to the fact that they have Luka Doncic and not a whole lot else. Luka has shown that he is good enough to carry a team and he still seems to be improving. With the right pieces around him, this team could ascend into the top tier as well because Luka is that good. They re-signed Hardaway Jr and they signed Reggie Bullock. This team should be better than last year. But they are also a Luka injury away from falling out of the playoffs altogether.

Denver Nuggets

Denver would be in a higher tier as well if it wasn’t for Jamal Murray being expected to miss most of the season. Jokic is good enough to get this team to playoffs (and win a playoff series as we’ve now seen) by himself but there is definitely a ceiling on this team without the emergence of the second star in Murray’s absence. If Murray comes back faster than expected, look for this team to move up in the West from this projection.