The Jazz have firmed as a popular breakout candidate for this season after ending last season with a flourish after the All-Star break. This was mainly due to an incredible defensive effort with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert – two of the league’s best rim protectors – anchoring the frontcourt. They also have the most underrated player in the NBA on their team, Gordon Hayward. Once again, the Jazz will be relying heavily on Hayward’s Swiss-Army Knife offensive skillset to lead their offense and also to facilitate. This is especially critical this season with Dante Exum out for the season and no capable starting Point Guard on the roster. As such, it is likely the Jazz will be playing heavy minutes with Point Guard-less lineups including Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles types sharing the backcourt.
At stages during the pre-season Utah have experiment with such lineups with varying success (and overall not enough of a sample size to determine it’s effect), but you can expect them to implement them more often during the season once Trey Burke starts shooting 5% from the field. Interestingly, in this model, if you take out Trey Burke the Jazz improve by over one differential point, so the lesson for Utah is to give Burke less minutes, as he struggles on both ends of the floor. This team drafted Trey Lyles, a Power Forward out of Kentucky with a sweet mid-range shot and potential to stretch beyond the arc and Olivier Hanlan, a combo guard from Boston College in the mold of fellow alum Reggie Jackson. These two teams should be able to contribute next year to a Jazz team already loaded with young talent. With the continued growth of Hayward, Favors and Burks as well as the rapid improvement of Rudy Gobert the Jazz should once again be right in the thick of the playoffs race, but without a jump from Exum the ceiling on this team is limited this season. Expect the Jazz to once again finish 8th or 9th.
Projected Record: 40-42
Predicted Wins: 38-43
|2014||FGA Ratio||1||FTA Ratio||1|