Jazz Receive National Love In Preseason Predictions
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz continue to get preseason hype and attention. This time from ESPN’s Zach Lowe in his “Wild NBA Predictions” for the upcoming season.
Lowe highlighted the possibility of Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell winning the Most Valuable Player award and “The Stifle Tower” threepeating as Defensive Player of the Year.
Lowe previewed the 2019-20 NBA season with 35 random/bold predictions in his article published on Friday, October 18.
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Lowe forecasted Giannis Antetokounmpo to repeat as league MVP. Although it would take a great season and the odds are slim, the ESPN senior writer didn’t count out Utah’s two stars for the league’s MVP award.
“It would take a monster season from Utah and a leap from one of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert for either to emerge as a real candidate,” wrote Lowe.
In his third prediction for the upcoming season, Lowe chose Gobert as the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. It would be Gobert’s third DPOY honor in a row.
Later in his article, the NBA expert projected the Jazz would have a representative from their franchise in the NBA All-Star game this winter.
Lowe predicted one spot in the game would be for Gobert or Mitchell. He listed new Jazzman Mike Conley as an honorable mention for all-star status. Gobert, Mitchell, and Conley have never been league all-stars.
To the disappointment of Jazz fans, Lowe forecasted the Denver Nuggets as the number one seed in the Western Conference this season. That result would give the Nuggets home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs and the Jazz fighting for one of three remaining spots for home-court in the first round of the postseason.
Lowe listed the Jazz as one of the eight WC teams to qualify for the postseason. Other western squads were the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks.
He left out the Golden State Warriors who have made the NBA Finals each of the last five seasons but will be without Klay Thompson to start the season and no longer have Kevin Durant on their roster.
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The senior writer projected that Jazz will try to lock down new contracts with forwards Royce O’Neale and/or Joe Ingles.
“Given O’Neale’s potentially central role on a good team, there could be some mutual interest in an extension,” said Lowe.
O’Neale is in the last year of his contract with the Jazz and is scheduled to make $1,618,520 according to HoopsHype.
Lowe states that the October 21 deadline for NBA extensions “applies to Ingles due to a quirk in the rules, and so an extension to his deal — which runs through 2020-21 — seems unlikely. Don’t rule out some last-minute wrangling.”
Ingles will make $11,454,546 this upcoming season and $10,363,637 next year in his final season under contract according to HoopsHype.
Lowe forecasted the Dante Exum and Tony Bradley eras in Utah might be over sometime this season. Exum who has oft been injured is still working his way back from an injury he suffered late last season.
The senior writer threw out a possible trade between the Jazz and the New York Knicks involving Exum and Bradley. The Knicks would trade Utah a veteran forward in Marcus Morris.
“I like this trade for both teams, even if both would likely say “no” now. It’s an all-in move for Utah,” said Lowe. “Their means of nabbing another backup power forward and someone with a track record of jostling with the big wings in Los Angeles. New York gets a high-lottery talent who just turned 24.”
It will be interesting to see how many if any of Lowe’s predictions come to fruition this upcoming season.
The Jazz begin the regular season on Wednesday, October 23 when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 p.m. (MDT).