The Utah Jazz are a team in motion, and it’s impossible to know where they’re going.
The Utah Jazz are a team that could, quite honestly, wind up anywhere and everywhere in the final standings and you’d have a sizeable portion of the fanbase not surprised. They could finish with the best record in the west, or barely make the Play-In Tournament, or end up in the lottery and each event will see a group of people going “See, I told you.”
But why? Well, it’s because the team is in a unique place where the powers that be are both trying to rebuild the franchise to win a title, as well as keeping the younger assets they have and building around them. That wasn’t always the plan, however.
When the team landed Lauri Markkanen, the plans changed. They knew he could be a piece to build around, but they didn’t know he’d be a 25-point-per-game scorer, capable of carrying the franchise on his back better than expected. Had he not been sat for as many games down the stretch as he was, it’s likely the Jazz would have ended up in the play-in game.
He missed nine of the 12 final games, and the Jazz finished 37-45. Had he won, let’s say six games, that would put them at 43-39. They would’ve been in the Top 8 of the Western Conference and right smack dab a member of the Play-In Tournament. That’s how close they were to competing.
So Markkanen threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings and may have kicked off the team’s rebuild faster than expected. And now the franchise in a position where they have to decide to expedite the rebuild around Markkanen, stay the course, or trade away more assets and get worse.
Meaning this season has three distinct ways it can go; but what would those look like?