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ESPN Doesn’t Rank Jazz Among NBA Contenders Next Season

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (R) garters in a pass as Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (L) defends during an NBA game in Salt Lake City, Utah on December 4, 2019. (Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP) (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz were mere inches away from beating the Denver Nuggets and advancing to face the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals. But that wasn’t enough to earn them respect as contenders when the next NBA season rolls around according to ESPN.

In their latest article, ESPN’s NBA analysts Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks each left the Jazz off of their top 10 contenders for the 2021 season. This comes despite the Jazz finishing tied for the NBA’s eighth-best record alongside the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Miami Heat, who just punched their ticket to the NBA Finals.

The Jazz were eliminated by the Nuggets in seven games after building a 3-1 series advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Jazz were without forward Bojan Bogdanovic, the team’s second-leading scorer who had season-ending surgery on his wrist in May.

Denver went on to defeat the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs, again erasing a 3-1 series deficit, before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

Who Made The NBA Contenders List?

Both Pelton and Marks listed 10 teams ahead of the Jazz as contenders for the 2021 NBA season, though their lists varied slightly.

Both analysts had the Lakers, Clippers, Heat, Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and Dallas Mavericks on their lists.

Pelton added the Philadelphia 76ers to his list of contenders despite a first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics. Pelton added the Toronto Raptors who were eliminated by the Celtics in seven games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

When Will Next NBA Season Begin?

The NBA Finals between the Lakers and Heat will get underway on Wednesday, but for the 28 teams that have already been eliminated, all eyes are on next season. Now, they just need to know when that will begin. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, his “best guess” is that the season will begin in January.

Silver joined broadcaster and current CNN contributor Bob Costas to detail the latest NBA news and when to expect the league return next year.

The NBA had originally targeted a December 1 beginning to the 2020-21 season when it announced its Orlando restart plans, but with the NBA Finals set to conclude in mid-October, the turnaround was deemed too aggressive.

The NBA has toyed with the idea of restarting next season in another bubble environment, or potentially hosting several secure playing environments across the US, though secluding players from their families for the second time in as many seasons may be a tough sell.

The continuing emergence of rapid testing limited travel may allow the NBA to avoid such a dramatic approach next year.

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