2014-15 IN REVIEW
3rd in Northwest Division
11th in Western Conference
Last year's Utah Jazz fell seven victories short of a chance at making the playoffs, but they showed a lot of signs of growth, winning 38 games and improving on 2013-14's 25-27 mark.
From an individual standpoint, Utah had a lot to be excited about. Gordon Hayward stepped up the leader of the team and put together his best year as a pro, averaging a career high 19.3 points to go along with over four rebounds and four assists per game. Hayward's all-around game is really starting to round into shape as his versatility allows him to do a lot of damage all over the court.
Two-way threat Derrick Favors made a bit of a leap, playing the most consistent ball of his career on his way to a career high 16.2 points per game while gobbling up eight boards and making plays defensively. Favors has become a much more reliable offensive option as of late, and he is really beginning to show why everybody was so high on him coming into the 2010 NBA draft.
The most promising Jazz performer last season, however, was Rudy Gobert. The active 7'2" manchild not only won the starting center position and made a leap, he established himself as one of the most impactful defensive presences in the NBA. As a starter in 37 games, Gobert exploded behind 10.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game and there is no question that he is a piece that all 30 teams would love to have.
Gobert's value on the floor as a paint protector is not something many guys can match.
SUMMER OF 2015
The Jazz didn't see a whole lot of action this summer, opting to generally stand pat with their young core. No meaningful deals were made and especially in their rebuilding situation, they weren't major players on the free agent market.
Utah got decent value in the lottery with the 12th overall pick in June's NBA draft, selecting Kentucky's Trey Lyles. The athletic, long-armed four-man is a very active body that can disrupt defensively with his length, and really do some damage as a face-up big. He has already shown signs of being able to shoot the ball from mid-range, and Lyles could turn out to be an excellent pick n' roll target.
The bad news of the summer came in early August, when Dante Exum tore his ACL playing in Australia and will likely miss the entire 2015-16 season. It's a real shame, because Exum has a lot of tools and appeared to be ready to make a leap.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
C - Rudy Gobert / Tibor Pleiss
PF - Derrick Favors / Trevor Booker / Trey Lyles
SF - Gordon Hayward / Elijah Millsap / Cristapher Johnson
SG - Alec Burks / Rodney Hood / Joe Ingles
PG - Trey Burke / Dante Exum
X-FACTOR - Development of Youth
The Jazz are going to have a tough year in the standings, but on the bright side, they have an outstanding cast of young talent and are working towards building something for the future. This season isn't so much about winning for the Jazz, but they've got a look to look forward to when in Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood, not to mention having Exum in their back pocket.
As long as the Jazz see improvement from the core along with positive signs from prospects like Trey Lyles and Tibor Pleiss, the season will be viewed as a positive.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2015-16
Utah is going to struggle in 2016, but you can expect the youth movement to give Jazz fans something to be excited about. They may lose a lot of games, but they will fight and the roster is full of a bunch of hungry competitors looking to improve.
You can count on Gordon Hayward to continue to add to his well-rounded game while Rudy Gobert further solidifies himself as a dominant defensive presence, Derrick Favors gobbles up double-doubles, the return of Alec Burks reinserts another quality shot creator and don't be surprised if Rodney Hood makes a big leap as a performer.
Be patient, Jazz fans. Goooosfrabba.
PROJECTED 2015-16 STANDINGS
5th in Northwest Division
15th in Western Conference
I wish to see the team both improve the defense, while also making bigger strides on offense. I’d love to see the team get even more national recognition – but I’d rather that they still maintain the chip on the shoulder that they play with. Most of all, even more than wanting them to make free throws, is that I’d want to see them remain as healthy as possible. The wins will come when the team is ready. Development is still needed. And while I do think this team can reach 45 wins we shouldn’t be hung up on wins alone. It’s about being a team that can one day win a title. And this season that means playing like they can, while improving all season long. I trust in what Dennis Lindsey is doing. I am completely on board with Quin Synder’s coaching, teaching, mentality, and Xs and Os. Combined, those two aren’t bringing in washed up guys to keep our highest potential players on the bench anymore. And the sins of previous seasons (being infatuated with wins) are almost all washed off by the sustained and rational growth that we’re seeing. This is a fun team. And it’s fun to be a fan again. And just having another 82 (+) games to watch is going to be great.