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
Utah Jazz (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /

Any claims of bias in these rankings should be readily dismissed. The Utah Jazz project as the best team in the Northwest Division in the 2021-22 season, and it isn’t particularly close.

As mentioned, they finished with the best record in the NBA last season, and it’s hard to see how any of their divisional rivals made any moves this offseason with the potential to offset the gap between them. The above discussed Trail Blazer additions are not significantly splashier than the Jazz’s additions of Rudy Gay, Eric Paschall and Hassan Whiteside, and here’s the rub: the Jazz had a substantially less urgent need to improve.

In fact, the Utah Jazz merit comparison to NBA teams outside of the Northwest Division. Questions about whether they can conquer the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets or reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks are entirely legitimate. Questions about whether they can beat the Portland Trail Blazers or Murray-less Denver Nuggets feel hollow.

The Jazz enter the upcoming NBA season with real title aspirations, and no other team in the Northwest division can realistically make that claim. The Trail Blazers, while potentially improved, are unlikely to stride towards serious championship contention given how far off that mark they appeared last season, and the moves they did make this offseason. The Nuggets are down an All-Star, and it will likely show. The Timberwolves are a talented young team, but they’d have to make a quantum leap to get to the Utah Jazz’s level.

The Thunder…yeah.

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The Utah Jazz are the only team in the NBA’s Northwest Division with any likelihood of finishing atop the NBA’s Western Conference. They’re #1 in these rankings by a very comfortable margin.