The Jazz are in a rebuild--they left no doubt when they traded away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Being a small market team, having two perennial all-stars was a rare commodity for a team like Utah. These teams don't have the glamour of LA, NY, or Miami, so obtaining A-tier players in free agency is incredibly rare, so giving them up when you have them is almost unthinkable. Unfortunately, that team had reached its ceiling, and they needed to try something new. Danny Ainge brought a new philosophy on team-building when he entered the picture as CEO of basketball operations, and that included blowing it up, retaining assets, and starting again from scratch.
So here we are two years later, sitting at 24-26 and 10th place in the West, and what do we have? What has the team become? At the moment, the Jazz have a collection of young players and a treasure trove of draft picks--all collected to slowly build a team capable of contending for the NBA Finals.
But that brings up an important question: how do you build a team that is capable of the highest level of basketball success? Without high-profile free agents, teams like Utah are forced to build a contender from the ground, rather than buy a contender. Let's take a look at the recent success of other small market teams, and see if we can develop a blueprint for winning.