Who’s Got Power Over The Utah Jazz After Stellar Offseason?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz were the talk of the NBA offseason when they traded players and picks to Memphis for Mike Conley, Jr. Experts all over the internet and airwaves said the Jazz were one of the top contenders in the Western Conference.
All that talk seemed to go by the wayside in the following weeks.
Kahwi Leonard picked the Clippers. That other Los Angeles team renting the Lakers home also traded for Paul George. Russell Westbrook was shipped to Houston and the Lakers finally completed the deal for Anthony Davis to pair up with LeBron James.
The bluster of amazingness had turned to other teams and it was topped off by ESPN’s latest NBA offseason power rankings. Utah received respect but barely made it into the top third of the best teams at number nine.
On the latest Jazz Notes podcast, Jeremiah Jensen and Cleon Wall listed each team and gave them a favorable grade of “Booyah” or an unfavorable grade of “Boo” for the eight teams ahead of the Jazz.
The Denver Nuggets
It didn’t take long for the guys to disagree. It came on the 2nd ranked team and top squad from the West Jensen gave a “Boo” ranking to the Jazz’s neighbor to the east, the Denver Nuggets.
“The Jazz are better than the Nuggets,” according to Jensen. “The Jazz were better than the Nuggets last year even though the Nuggets finished with a better record…Rudy Gobert is a tough match-up for them. I still think the Jazz are better than the Nuggets right now.”
Wall gave a resounding “Booyah” to Denver due to consistency in the roster.
“They were good last year. They are going to be good again this year…They add Jeremi Grant and lose Trey Lyles…and it’s mainly because of consistency. Now, do they make the Western Conference Finals? I think that’s a different thought process, but I do think they should be the top team right now because of all the guys they are bringing back. And I think Jamal Murray makes a little leap to justify the new contract he received,” said Wall.
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The Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia was another team the guys haggled over.
“This is really hard for me because the Sixers had no trouble with the Jazz last year in the regular season. They only lose Jimmy Butler, but I like the addition of Al Horford, a nice solid vet to balance out the youth the team has. Signing Tobias Harris…I like their lineup…But I’m going to say ‘Boo.’ I could be very wrong on this, but I also have worries about what goes on in their locker room, including some immaturity from (Joel) Embiid and Ben Simmons. They had a weird thing going on last year even though they were really good. So we will see how that plays out,” Jensen argued.
“I’m going to say ‘Booyah!'” Cleon said when it came to Philly. “I really like what Philadelphia can do on defense…I like what Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can do on defense. I like what Al Horford can do on defense, even though he is getting older. He’s crafty. I like that they picked up Josh Richardson from Miami Heat. He won’t bring it to you offensively like Jimmy Butler, but he’ll be good on defense…I think they may have to put a lot of their eggs in the basket on the defensive end and they’ll have to figure it out as the season goes along how they will do on offense.”
The Houston Rockets
The guys disagreed on the Houston Rockets being ranked ahead of the Jazz. Wall still thinks the Rockets are better, but not because of a deal for Westbrook.
“I’m (ranking the Rockets ahead of the Jazz) because of James Harden and because of what’s happened the past few seasons…and also because of what we talked about before: continuity. Right now you cannot stop James Harden unless he is tired, and the Jazz have not been able to do that. So maybe it’s a slight edge, but I’m going to give it to the Houston Rockets,” said Wall.
Jensen didn’t buy Wall’s logic of Harden and continuity.
“The Jazz made some huge changes in the off-season. Mike Conley is a huge upgrade over Ricky Rubio. Bojan Bogdanovic has been added…But it’s more about Houston honestly. I think they are worse without Chris Paul. While Russell Westbrook is a more dynamic player than Chris Paul, I don’t think he makes the Rockets better. He and James Harden are two of the most ball-dominant players (in the NBA) and Westbrook is one of the most inefficient 3-point shooters in the NBA,” said Jensen.
So how many other teams deserved “Boos” and “Booyahs” in front of the Jazz? Listen on the latest Jazz Notes podcast powered by KSL Sports below.
The Jazz Notes podcast drops at least weekly and can be found at KSLSports.com, the KSL Newsradio App, Apple Podcasts or other podcast providers.