How Far Have The Jazz Come Since 2016?
Jul 4, 2019, 11:00 AM | Updated: Jul 5, 2019, 12:10 pm
(Photo by Christian Petersen and Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s been an unusual off-season for Jazz fans to experience with what the front office led by vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey and general manager Justin Zanik has done so far.
They have been aggressive in free agency and going after quality talent and using their cap space to turn the franchise into a championship contender.
After multiple reports of Utah acquiring Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies as well as free agents Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Jazz are in prime position to go into unfamiliar territory as contenders in the Western Conference.
It amazing how different the team is now compared to the 2015-16 season, where they finished with a 40-42 record and ninth place in the conference standings. Here is a look back at the last four seasons.
Quin Snyder was in his second season as the head coach of the Jazz and was just beginning the rebuild of the franchise after the firing Ty Corbin after the 2013-14 season. The opening day starting lineup included rookie Raul Neto, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
Their bench was filled by Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, Jeff Withey, Chris Johnson and Trey Lyles. They made one trade during the season when they sent a second round pick to the Chicago Bulls, the Atlanta Hawks sent Justin Holiday to the Bulls and Shelvin Mack to the Jazz with the Hawks acquiring Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls.
After that season, Gordon Hayward was the leading scorer with 19.7 points per game. Derrick Favors was second with 16.4 points per game. Rudy Gobert recorded 9.1 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Utah started to progress to getting back into the playoffs by picking up George Hill in a three-team trade. The Jazz traded the draft rights to Taurean Prince to Atlanta and the Hawks sent Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. Utah also traded Trey Burke to the Washington Wizards.
They also signed longtime NBA veteran Joe Johnson to a two-year deal.
The Jazz finished with a 48-34 record and was the fifth seed in the Western Conference. They knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games.
Gordon Hayward had an all-star season with 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Rudy Gobert improved significantly to 14 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
The usual starting lineup featured George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Shelvin Mack, Dante Exum, Trey Lyles, Alec Burks, Raul Neto and Boris Diaw occupied the bench.
But, Utah experienced injuries to multiple players. Johnson played 78 games, Gobert played in 81 games and Ingles played all 82 regular season games.
The off-season would change the franchise for hopefully the next 10 years.
On draft night, they traded their first round pick (Tyler Lydon) and Trey Lyles to the Denver Nuggets for the 13th pick, who turned out to be Donovan Mitchell.
They also traded a first round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio.
The off-season was the “Summer of Gordon Hayward” as the Jazz brass met with the free agent along with Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles to try and convince Hayward to return to Utah. After spoiling the fourth of July for Jazz fans with the leak of his departure to Boston and the second thoughts that took long enough for him to finish his Players’ Tribune piece that confirmed the leak, Hayward left for Boston.
July 4th marks the two year anniversary since Hayward’s departure from the Jazz to the Boston Celtics.
"After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics." – Gordon Hayward makes announcement via The Players' Tribune pic.twitter.com/cDjGZo7VHm
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) July 4, 2017
That left Jazz fans in shock and worried about starting at square one until Summer League rolled around at the Jon M. Huntsman Center when Donovan Mitchell stole the hearts of Jazz fans with his spectacular performances in Summer League.
Utah also signed Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko and Royce O’Neale.
In February, the Jazz were involved in a three team trade that sent Joe Johnson and cash to the Sacramento Kings, Rodney Hood to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland sent Dimitrios Agravanis, Iman Shumpert, cash and a 2020 second round pick to the Kings, Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz as well as a 2024 second round pick.
The Jazz released Derrick Rose.
Mitchell backed up his Summer League play with a fantastic rookie season, where he finished second in the voting for Rookie of the Year.
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) June 23, 2017
Rudy Gobert won his first Defensive Player of the Year award.
He averaged 20.5 points per game and led the team past the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
How much of an impact would Donovan have had as a rookie if Gordon Hayward re-signed with the Jazz? Hayward had the ball in his hands a lot which would have taken touches away from Mitchell.
This past season was even better than 2017-18, Mitchell had another great year, averaging 23.8 points per game.
During the season, management made one trade, sending Alec Burks to Cleveland and acquiring Kyle Korver.
Gobert won his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Jazz front office believed that bringing the same players back from the 2017-18 season would put out a really good product but Utah ran into the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Playoffs and lost the series in five games.
After losing to the Rockets, Lindsey said that the Jazz were a really good team but not a great team and that they would be aggressive in free agency. On paper, it looks like they have accomplished that.
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