Five Teams The Utah Jazz Should Face On NBA Opening Night

Jul 11, 2019, 10:28 AM
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Now that the roster is almost wrapped up and finalized for the Utah Jazz, fans are getting really excited for October to roll around and get the 2019-20 season going.

The Jazz have had a busy off-season with the acquisition of Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen and two first round draft picks.

They also signed free agent Bojan Bogdanovic and reports say that they have agreed to terms with Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay and Ed Davis in free agency.

That has led to the Jazz trading longtime big man Derrick Favors to the New Orleans Pelicans and cutting ties with Ricky Rubio.

One of the most exciting nights in the NBA is opening night that is typically on a Tuesday night and is broadcast on TNT with a doubleheader.

Last season, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics squared off in a rematch of their playoff series the previous season and the defending champion Golden State Warriors hosted Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Jazz started their season on the road against the Sacramento Kings.

With an upgraded roster that many think is a top-3 team in the Western Conference should definitely be considered to be a part of the TNT doubleheader to open the 2019-20 season.

Here are five teams (plus an honorable mention) that would make for a really exciting opening night clash.

Honorable Mention: Golden State Warriors

A lot has changed with the Warriors organization, beginning with the departure of Kevin Durant, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. They lost to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals and won’t have Klay Thompson to start the season after tearing his ACL in the Finals.

Whether it was a home or road game for the Jazz, it would be fun to watch. If it was on the road, the Jazz would play the Warriors in their first regular season game in their new arena “Chase Center” in San Francisco.

Golden State acquired D’Angelo Russell via sign-and-trade from the Brooklyn Nets, but haven’t had the cap space to bring in more talent. They had to trade Andre Iguodala and waive Shaun Livingston on top of losing Durant. The Warriors are not favorites to win the west, with most predicting the team to finish with a 5-7 seed in the postseason.

Last year, the Warriors won two of the three regular season matchups against the Jazz. Starting with their buzzer-beating tip-in from former Jazzman Jonas Jerebko to give the Warriors a one-point win at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Utah won the next game at home by five points and lost in Oakland by seven in February.

5. Denver Nuggets

National NBA media members have labeled the Nuggets as the team to beat in Western Conference even though they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in seven games in the second round of the playoffs and basically bring back the exact same team.

They picked up the option on former Jazzman Paul Millsap and acquired forward Jerami Grant from the Oklahoma City Thunder and have rescinded the qualifying offer on former Jazz forward Trey Lyles.

The Jazz will match up very well against the Nuggets

  • Mike Conley vs. Jamal Murray
  • Donovan Mitchell vs. Gary Harris
  • Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Michael Porter Jr. or Will Barton
  • Jeff Green vs. Paul Millsap
  • Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic

Last season, Utah won three of the four regular season meetings against the Nuggets.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

This is more appealing to the national television audience because it would be the first game that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be playing on the same team. The Lakers lost out on Kawhi Leonard but has put together a good roster despite trading Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram to New Orleans for Davis.

They signed All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and was able to keep former Ute Kyle Kuzma despite interest from the Pelicans in adding him to the Davis trade. Their backcourt will be talented as well with two-time NBA champion Danny Green signing as a free agent as well as Avery Bradley.

But ultimately, all eyes will be on Davis and James to see how they play together on the floor. Also, if the reports are true that LeBron James will be the starting point guard, that creates a size disadvantage for the Jazz. Here is how they match up with the Lakers:

  • Mike Conley vs. LeBron James (Might have to put taller defender on James)
  • Donovan Mitchell vs. Danny Green
  • Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Kyle Kuzma
  • Jeff Green vs. Anthony Davis
  • Rudy Gobert vs. DeMarcus Cousins

This will be a very fun game to watch whenever they play each other.

3. Los Angeles Clippers

All of the off-season hype has shifted from the Lakers to the Clippers after Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers and had the organization trade for MVP finalist Paul George from Oklahoma City. They have quickly turned into the favorites to win the NBA title, which would be their first in franchise history.

The duo will be paired with elite perimeter defender Patrick Beverley and NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. The matchups are intriguing.

  • Mike Conley vs. Patrick Beverley
  • Donovan Mitchell vs. Landry Shamet
  • Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Kawhi Leonard
  • Jeff Green vs. Paul George
  • Rudy Gobert vs. Ivica Zubac

Much like the Lakers, the national NBA audience will want to see the Clippers on opening night.

2. New Orleans Pelicans

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the possibility of seeing the New Orleans Pelicans on opening night is the debut of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. That is to Jazz fans and the entire NBA but in Utah, it would be the first time that they would face Derrick Favors since trading him to New Orleans.

Favors spent 8 seasons in Utah and Jazz fans have been upset that the former Jazz big man had to go, so why not put this on opening night? It appeals to the national audience and to the local fans in the Beehive state.

Here is how they will match up:

  • Mike Conley vs. Lonzo Ball
  • Donovan Mitchell vs. Jrue Holiday
  • Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Brandon Ingram
  • Jeff Green vs. Zion Williamson
  • Rudy Gobert vs. Derrick Favors

Seeing Gobert facing Favors as opponents is sad to think about but that would be fun to watch what they probably did in practice.

1. Houston Rockets

After all of the moves and upgrades to the Jazz roster and the Houston Rockets bringing back the same team, at least right now, this matchup is to show the Rockets that the Jazz are a completely different team than the squad that they eliminated in the postseason the last two years.

The attention from the NBA world with national television is watching James Harden, that’s why this is No. 1 on the list, but mainly for the revenge factor. Here is how they fair on the court. Also, Gobert might have a chip on his shoulder after comments made by P.J. Tucker on Instagram after the Jazz center won his second consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

  • Mike Conley vs. Chris Paul
  • Donovan Mitchell vs. James Harden
  • Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Eric Gordon
  • Jeff Green vs. P.J. Tucker
  • Rudy Gobert vs. Clint Capela

Both teams won two games last season during the regular season before the Rockets eliminated the Jazz in five games in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

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Utah Jazz home floor at Vivint Smart Home Arena (Photo: Ben Anderson/KSL Sports)...
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