NBA analyst sets reasonable goal for Utah Jazz in 2021-22 season

Utah Jazz (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Recently, Bleacher Report analyst Mo Dakhil released an article dividing every NBA team into tiers, setting reasonable expectations for the Utah Jazz and every other team across the Association in the process. The Jazzmen’s tier was aptly named “prove it in the playoffs”.

Last time we addressed a Bleacher Report writer, the objective was to politely air a grievance about a criticism he’d levelled against the Jazz’s roster construction. In this case, we’ve got no complaints: Dakhil is right on the money with his evaluation of the Utah Jazz.

“Utah has made the playoffs each of the last past five seasons but has not gotten to the conference finals. The Jazz haven’t made it out of the second round since 2007” observes Dakhil in his article.

In other words, the bar for success is quite clear for the Jazz heading into the 2021-22 season: make the Western Conference finals.

Of course, Quin Snyder’s group has loftier ambitions. The Jazz boast a deep, talented roster of veterans with a real chance at making, or even winning, the NBA Finals. Certainly, that’s the goal, as it is for every team in the National Basketball Association that isn’t flagrantly tanking for in pursuit of lottery luck.

That means, for give-or-take 26 NBA teams, the Larry O’Brien trophy is the target heading into the 2021-22 season. In all likelihood, the Utah Jazz have better odds of reaching that target than 23-or-so of those teams, but the point stands: only one team per season wins the NBA championship.

On the other hand, four teams make an appearance in the conference finals. This season feels like a particularly ripe opportunity for the Utah Jazz to be one of those four teams. Their notoriously competitive Western Conference may be weaker than it has been in a considerable amount of time.

The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are both without All-Star talents for the majority of the season in Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard. The Dallas Mavericks did precious little to improve heading into the season. The Portland Trail Blazers seem to be in disarray. The Golden State Warriors will be heavily relying on a group of underdeveloped prospects to bolster their formerly dynastic core, and there are no guarantees regarding Klay Thompson’s form.

Indeed, the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers should be the only groups standing between the Utah Jazz and a trip to the NBA’s ultimate showdown.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference appears uncharacteristically stacked. The Brooklyn Nets stand to redefine super-team, the Milwaukee Bucks will be hoping to repeat their NBA championship performance, the Miami Heat’s addition of Kyle Lowry stands to disrupt an otherwise-clear hierarchy.

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Whoever emerges from the Western Conference will inevitably have a challenge ahead of them. The Utah Jazz need to at least put themselves in a position to be that team for their 2021-22 season to be considered a success.