Utah Jazz: Ranking the 5 biggest challengers in the West

Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
LeBron James vs Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

We’ve already made the argument that the Utah Jazz may be specifically designed to counter the ultra-talented, veteran-heavy Los Angeles Lakers. Having said that: good god, are these Los Angeles Lakers talented.

The addition of human triple-double Russell Westbrook to a squad already featuring GOAT candidate LeBron James and elite big man Anthony Davis feels like an occurrence you might deem unrealistic in NBA 2K22. One wonders whether this offseason development finally confirms that yes, we do live in a simulation. Regardless, it happened, and it’s terrifying.

There are concerns in Tinseltown. Russell Westbrook is effectively the antithesis of the point guard we’d typically expect a front office to pair with LeBron James (essentially a point guard himself). His 30.2% Usage Rate from last season was 15th overall in the NBA, and was actually the lowest percentage he’s posted since his 2009-10 sophomore season. Meanwhile, James’ Usage Rate of 31.9% clocked in at 9th in the Association.

The “only-one-ball” criticism that is frequently applied to the NBA’s most talented rosters usually feels like an overblown concern, however, it may apply in this case. Westbrook’s career 30.5% three-point accuracy begs a simple question: what is he going to do when LeBron James has the ball?

His cuts to the basket can be devastatingly effective, but that feels like a part-time answer. Ultimately, modern NBA teams tend to run, at a minimum, four-out spacing. That would necessitate a full-time switch to the 5 for Anthony Davis, a move he’s allegedly willing to make: however, with Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan both on the roster, it remains difficult to picture these pieces fitting together.

Still, talent has a way of working itself out in the NBA, and one more time for the people in the back: these Los Angeles Laker have a whole lot of talent.

dark. Next. Ranking every Jazz player under 25

Whether it’s enough to challenge the better-fitting Utah Jazz remains to be seen.