Utah Jazz: ranking the team among Northwest Division rivals

Utah Jazz (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder Media Day) /

We just called the Oklahoma City Thunder the NBA’s “face of tanking”. You couldn’t hire a professional actor to feign surprise at their placement on the bottom of this list.

Of every team in the Northwest Division, the Thunder threaten to challenge the Utah Jazz less than any other. That doesn’t mean they won’t be fun to watch.

Do you love long, lanky playmakers? Aleksej Pokusevski loves you back, and recent 6th overall pick Josh Giddey would like a word too. Are 3-and-D wings more you speed? Luguentz Dort is already a folk hero, and his legend stands to grow. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is already a bonafide star, and if you’re just a diehard Utah Jazz fan, watching former longtime Jazzman Derrick Favors mentor this group should be enjoyable as well.

There are plenty of reasons to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. Watching them win is simply not one of them.

Last season, the Thunder were one of the worst teams in the NBA at 22-50, and that doesn’t stand to change in 2021-22. This collection of intriguing but unpolished young talent will likely lead the NBA in the unofficial category of highlights-to-losses per game.

Perhaps they’ll surprise us. If the young players mentioned above, plus Darius Bazley, Theo Maledon and others take substantial leaps forward, the Thunder could add more wins to their ledger than they possibly even want to. Improved health for SGA could go a long way towards accomplishing that feat as well.

Nonetheless, it’s unclear whether this Thunder team would even want wins in 2021-22, and without digressing into a lengthy discussion about the efficacy of tanking, that means they won’t challenge the Utah Jazz this season. They won’t even have enough to challenge the next team listed in this article.