NBA season preview: Utah Jazz

NBA season preview: Utah Jazz


NBA season preview: Utah Jazz

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at Staples Center on November 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

STAYING: Alec Burks, Dante Exum, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Chris Johnson, Trey Lyles, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto and Jeff Withey.

ADDED: Joel Bolomboy (Weber State), Boris Diaw (San Antonio), George Hill (Indiana), Joe Johnson (Miami) and Marcus Paige (North Carolina).

GONE: Trevor Booker (Brooklyn), Trey Burke (Washington) and Tibor Pleiss.

STRENGTHS: Terrific frontcourt … The up-and-coming Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have yet to peak as NBA players, but they are excellent already … Great combination of skill, athleticism, size and toughness there … Hayward would have probably been an All-Star already had the Jazz won more … Pretty good mix of shooting, rebounding and passing skills … The underrated Favors is a physical specimen with talent … The freakishly long Gobert inflicts terror around the rim … A Defensive Player of the Year candidate right there … There’s a clear upgrade in terms of talent and depth with the addition of George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw … Hill gives the Jazz solid play at point guard, which was a weak spot for Utah in years past … Johnson and Diaw are in the twilight of their careers, but their experience can help Utah close out games … There’s a good mixture of young, athletic types and heady veterans on the roster … After a strong sophomore season, Rodney Hood will be a player to watch out for … They have probably just scratched the surface in terms of how good they can be defensively … Great rebounding squad.

WEAKNESSES: Even with the summer’s talent upgrade, don’t expect the Jazz to be offensive juggernauts all of a sudden … They were in the Bottom 3 in scoring last season … Not a lot of guys who can create off the dribble consistently …  Not a go-to scorer … They don’t get many easy baskets in the open court … Only 9.3 fast break points per game last year … While there’s been improvement there too, the Jazz will usually be overmatched at point guard in a conference with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, etcetera … How much can Dante Exum bring to the table after one year sidelined due to injury? … Some questions about the durability of Favors and Gobert, who have missed a combined 94 games the last three years.

PREDICTION: 3rd in the Northwest Division, 7th in the Western Conference.



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