The Utah Jazz are quietly building one of the more interesting and dangerous teams in the NBA. They have a promising young front court with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, some versatile wings in Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, and Alec Burks, and they have a very young point guard in Dante Exum who has a ton of potential. The Jazz also made a nice move to land a quality veteran point guard in George Hill by trading away the #12 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.
It is clear that the Utah Jazz are trending upward. But the question is how much? Some dude on Bleacher Report put them in the top 4 overall in the NBA next season. While I think that's a stretch to say the least, the Jazz should be projected to make the playoffs next season considering that they missed the playoffs by one game last season. Provided they continue to improve and stay healthy, they really have no excuse to not be one of the final 8 teams standing in the Western Conference.
What makes the Jazz so scary is that they are extremely versatile. Gordon Hayward is continuing to improve and turning into one of the best wings in the NBA, averaging 19.7 points per game last season on 34.9% shooting from beyond the arc and 82.4% shooting from the foul line. Rodney Hood also really came into his own, averaging 14.2 points on 35.9% shooting from beyond the arc and 86% shooting form the foul line. In regards to the front court, Derrick Favors continues to steadily get better, averaging 16.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game last season while Rudy Gobert averaged 9.1 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks.
The Utah Jazz can beat you out on the perimeter or they can beat you inside. They have wings who can shoot and big men who can control the glass and block shots. The point guard position remains a little iffy, but they did land George Hill and Dante Exum is expected to be healthy in time for training camp. Plus, Alec Burks will be back and he is capable of playing some point guard as well.
The only real concern for the Utah Jazz outside of health is their lack of a true superstar. Gordon Hayward has proven to be a really good player, but he's not turning into a guy who can lead a team to a championship. The Jazz have to hope that with time, one of their other young guns like Rudy Gobert or Dante Exum takes on this role and they also have to hope that they can win via a "Strength In Numbers" sort of way that has been working for the Warriors. I'm not confident that they have anybody on their team who will eventually be the best player in the NBA. But, I am confident that they are forming a core that can make up for that due to their depth and versatility.
The bottom line for the Utah Jazz is that provided they stay healthy and don't lose any key players, they will be a playoff team next season and they will threaten to win a playoff series. I don't see them advancing to the Western Conference Finals next season since that will likely be the Warriors, Spurs, or Thunder taking up two of those spots, but they should be able to put themselves in a position to win a series and make things interesting in the second round. The sky is the limit for this Utah Jazz team as we look ahead to the next three and four seasons. But for next season, they need to hope to make the playoffs and win a series. If they do that, they'll be right on schedule to accomplish what they are hoping to accomplish in seasons to come.