NBA 2023-2024 Preview: What Will Year Two of the New Utah Jazz Look Like?

Utah Jazz NBA Preview 2023 2024

Who will succeed the Nuggets as NBA champions? Over the next month, our editorial team will delve into all 30 teams in the American premier basketball league. Today, we head to the city of the Great Salt Lake to talk about the Utah Jazz.

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2022/2023 Recap: A Promising Start to Reconstruction

In the summer of 2022, worn out by the internal strife between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz management chose… not to choose at all. Everyone was out, and they started with a clean slate with the acquired players. The result: 9 wins in 12 games. Is Utah on the path to becoming a darling of the league? The answer is likely no, as the element of surprise rarely lasts an entire season. However, the Jazz remained in contention for the play-in tournament until just ten days before the end of the regular season.

This remarkable performance was made possible by the explosion of Lauri Markkanen. The Finnish player, riding the wave of a simply monstrous EuroBasket performance, delivered a stellar season, earning him a spot as a starting All-Star and, most notably, the Most Improved Player award. Supported by Walker Kessler, a new presence in the paint who proved surprisingly reliable for a rookie, and a group of players with chips on their shoulders, he laid the foundation for a promising reconstruction. So far, so good…

Offseason Moves

Departures:

  • Rudy Gay (Hawks)
  • Damian Jones (Cavaliers)
  • Vernon Carey Jr (Free Agent)
  • Udoka Azubuike (Suns)
  • Jarrell Brantley (Free Agent)
  • Micah Potter (Free Agent)
  • Juan Toscano-Anderson (Free Agent)

Extensions

Johnny Juzang (Two-Way)

Arrivals

  • John Collins (Hawks)
  • Omer Yurtseven (Heat)
  • Taylor Hendricks (9th overall pick in the 2023 Draft)
  • Keyonte George (16th overall pick in the 2023 Draft)
  • Brice Sensabaugh (28th overall pick in the 2023 Draft)
  • Joey Hauser (Two-Way)

Utah Jazz Starting Lineup

  • Ochai Agbaji
  • Talen Horton-Tucker
  • Lauri Markkanen
  • John Collins
  • Walker Kessler

Bench Rotation

Point Guards:

  • Collin Sexton
  • Kris Dunn

Shooting Guards:

  • Jordan Clarkson
  • Keyonte George
  • Johnny Juzang (Two-Way)

Small Forwards:

  • Brice Sensabaugh
  • Simone Fontecchio
  • Luka Samanic
  • Joey Hauser (Two-Way)

Power Forwards:

  • Taylor Hendricks

Centers:

  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Omer Yurtseven

Weaknesses/Strengths Analysis

Weaknesses

Lack of a Floor General: The team is clearly missing an experienced playmaker and floor leader in the point guard position. While there’s a surplus of talent in the backcourt, there isn’t a true facilitator or passer. The presence of both Collin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson may be redundant in this regard, especially with Ochai Agbaji likely securing a spot due to his defensive potential. The management will need to address this deficiency.

Inexperience: The team is relatively young and lacks a seasoned veteran to provide effective guidance to this inexperienced group. In the absence of a strong locker room presence, the development of young talent might face challenges.

Strengths

Scoring Depth: The Jazz boast at least five players capable of scoring 20 points per game, giving them a potent offensive arsenal on paper. The addition of John Collins provides versatility for small-ball lineups. With an expanded roster and contributions expected from rookies, shooting should be a focus.

Low Pressure Environment: Utah currently doesn’t face significant pressure, allowing them to play freely while refining their playbook for future seasons. This less pressured situation could facilitate their growth and development.

Player to Watch: John Collins

After being involved in approximately 1,500 trade rumors (unofficial figure), John Collins left the Hawks for a seemingly modest return this summer. His stats and influence had declined in Atlanta, but he now has a golden opportunity to rejuvenate his career in Salt Lake City. If Utah pursued him, it’s with the intention of giving him significant playing time, and nestled comfortably between Markkanen and Kessler, he can prove himself.

Collins’ best season in his career featured over 20 points, 10 rebounds, and a 40% three-point shooting percentage. While Utah may not offer as much passing quality as Atlanta, there should be enough to help him shine. Moreover, the motion offense favored by Will Hardy appears to suit him perfectly. The key question is whether he will integrate effectively, given his reputation for having a substantial ego. Nevertheless, he holds the cards.

Season Prediction: 12th in the Western Conference

The Jazz isn’t in a hurry; it’s only the second year of the rebuilding process, and the foundation is already solid. This season should serve to determine if Lauri Markkanen can be a primary or secondary option for a franchise making deep playoff runs, if John Collins can regain his form and contribute to the rotation, if someone can truly establish themselves in the backcourt, if Walker Kessler will continue his ascent, and if the management will take risks, especially at the trade deadline, to push for a postseason spot. There are many questions to be answered, which is why the Jazz is expected to be on the cusp of the play-in tournament.

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