ESPN personality thinks the Utah Jazz could “take a step back” this season

Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz.
Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz. /

Are the Utah Jazz set up for disappointment in 2023-2024?

The Utah Jazz surprised everyone in the 2022-2023 season. Without Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, and others, the Jazz were still able to amass a 37-45 record. Now, with a team built around Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Walker Kessler, Keyonte George, and the recently acquired John Collins, fans are thinking that the Jazz are going to take a step forward.

It’s very possible this happens, but without a true point guard at the moment, the Jazz’s season does seem to be one that has to be monitored closely. Sexton is the incumbent to start at the position but he’s not a true point guard.

It’s for this reason that ESPN’s Zach Lowe is worried about the Jazz taking a step back. Lowe, speaking on The Low Post podcast (transcript via Sports Illustrated), spoke about the concerns about the Jazz’s ’22-’23 season being an overachievement of sorts, and a regression being possible this year, saying;

"My gut on them is they’re at risk. They’re at major risk for a step back in the West next season. Their guard play and their playmaking, specifically with [Mike] Conley now long-gone makes me nervous, the lack of perimeter passing talent…37 wins feels like a big lift for this group.…The playmaking stuff also goes back to Markkanen. That is the next and maybe final frontier in his game. He makes other people better just by the sheer attention that he draws, both as a scorer and a shooter… but his passing vision just hasn’t been there, and Collins is a one to two assist per game max guy."

Lowe isn’t wrong about the team’s makeup. One of the biggest concerns we’ve addressed already is that Markkanen isn’t a Nikola Jokic type player, a passer who isn’t a conventional point guard. If that were the case, the concerns over the lack of a true point guard wouldn’t be a big dig deal.

Except, the Jazz don’t have that type of player, not anymore. With Mike Conley, the team had that, but without him, they do lack a true, traditional playmaker.

If someone like Markkanen or Collins can step up and become that, the Jazz doesn’t need a traditional facilitator. But if no one steps up, they may need to think about a true replacement.

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