Are the Utah Jazz tanking the season?

It's a valid question.
Jan 8, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts fans sit in the stands wearing sad face
Jan 8, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts fans sit in the stands wearing sad face / Robert Scheer-USA TODAY Sports

Based on the Utah Jazz's front office actions leading up to the NBA trade deadline, I previously speculated that the Jazz decided to tank the rest of the year, and keep their first-round draft pick, rather than convey it to the Oklahoma City Thunder, to complete the Derrick Favors trade from 2021.

Others have pointed to recent play, including a 1-8 skid that has seen increased playing time given to the three rookies - Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh, while continuing to give significant minutes to Lauri Markkanen, John Collins, Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson, as a sign that the team has gone in the tank.

So, are the Utah Jazz tanking?

After further consideration, my short answer is no, at least not a traditional tank.

If the Jazz were indeed doing a traditional tank and hoping to land in the Top 5 of the 2024 NBA Draft, they would have shut Markkanen, Sexton, and Clarkson down for the season by this point with some type of injury designation.

You would see Luka Samanic, Omer Yurtseven, Micah Potter, Jason Preston, and Kira Lewis Jr. getting significantly more minutes.

All 3 rookies would have significant roles and be starting at their respective positions. While Keyonte George has settled in as the starting point guard, Hendricks and Sensabaugh are still getting less minutes than one would expect, if the team was fully embracing a tank job.

Also, veterans like Talen Horton-Tucker and Otto Porter would have been bought out by now, and the Jazz would be taking late-season fliers on young players who could come in and fill minutes, but not create wins in the process, much like they did with Luka Samanic last season.

For now, the Jazz aren't tanking. They're struggling on the court, and with one of the hardest remaining schedules, it's not going to get easier going forward.